Formula 1 is one of the most exciting car racing events, and the Las Vegas Grand Prix was a highly anticipated competition. Vegas shut down its streets and put up barricades to prepare for the influx of fans and super-fast race cars. Unfortunately, all was not well - several attendees sued Formula 1 after being kicked out of the stands after a delay on day 1.
Interested in learning more about the chaos of the Formula 1 Las Vegas event? You’re in the right place. Unfortunately, many felt they were wronged at this phenomenal spectacle, and someone will have to pay for it. We’ll dive into the details around the event, why fans are suing, and what the Las Vegas venue is doing about it.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix took place the weekend of November 19th, 2023, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Well-equipped vehicles raced through the streets of Vegas, offering intense action and some of the loudest engines ever heard on the Strip. The endeavor ended with team Red Bull member Max Verstappen grabbing first and Charles Leclerc gaining second.
The event drew thousands of fans, capturing the attention of those in Las Vegas for different reasons, too. Already, there were complaints surrounding the Formula 1 race’s handling thanks to large barricades put in place on the Strip and an overabundance of security for pedestrians - but that’s not where the legal action came from.
The controversy sprung to life after several days of fans and residents complaining about the disruption to city life that came with the arrival of racers, fans, and their teams. Unfortunately, some missteps sprung to life when unexpected troubles appeared before the event began.
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Before the race, drivers arrived early to complete practice sessions on the track. On the Thursday before the event, Ferrari racer Carlos Sainz Jr. slammed into a water valve cover on the road. He was in the driver’s seat for less than ten minutes before he seriously harmed the street and his car.
Thanks to this disruption, the practice session received a red flag, and the track closed so the team could make necessary repairs before the big day. Water valve covers had to be taken off, and the holes filled with asphalt and sand - repairs stretching across the streets of Las Vegas.
Fans could watch the practice sessions from the stands, so many waited patiently for the racing to resume on Thursday after Sainz Jr. crashed. Unfortunately, officials told fans to leave the stands before the second practice sessions kicked off - almost two and a half hours later than it was supposed to on the official schedule.
Many fans were understanding about the situation. Like many well-attended events - concerts, theater shows, and beyond - unforeseen circumstances can lead to cancellations. While unfortunate, it’s a part of seeing a live event.
Unfortunately for the event, many Formula 1 fans were unhappy with their removal from the stands because they had paid so much money to attend (over $2,500 per ticket in some cases). A group of individuals taken from their seats are suing Liberty Media and the Las Vegas Grand Prix for up to $30,000 in damages.
There is limited information from the representation of the plaintiffs, Dimopoulos Law Firm and JK Legal & Consulting, or Formula 1 itself. Seeing how the dilemma plays out for the fans suing and Formula 1 will be interesting.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only complaint at the Formula 1 event.
Many fans tore down protective screens surrounding the track, irritated with how much effort employees put into ensuring non-paying individuals couldn’t see the race. These fences also got in the way of typically free and accessible walkways as well as some resident's homes—leaving some Las Vegas residents unable to work all weekend or even go out for groceries.
It wasn’t just fans who were upset at the event - business owners were also irritated. Their shops experienced extreme congestion and loss of potential customers who could not see or get to their storefronts thanks to the insanity of the crowded sidewalks, full of people inching along to get a glimpse of the racecar drivers.
F1 racers themselves were reportedly irritated with the tactics chosen by the organizers of the event. Lewis Hamilton, world champion and Mercedes driver, reportedly called the event a circus, disrupting the lives of regular people with all the glitz and glamor.
The champion, Verstappen, also had some negative things to say about the event in Vegas. He revealed that he thought the city put far too much focus on the spectacle without showing any respect for the sport itself.
From the fans to store owners to racers, there was frustration with how the event came together. It isn’t too much of a surprise that a few irritated individuals chose to sue the organizers as a result.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix did try to make amends with the fans who had to leave their seats after the incident in the practice run. Those who had single-day tickets to the Thursday event received $200 vouchers to the Grand Prix gift shop. However, those whose passes were good for more than one day got nothing in return.
Attending the Las Vegas Grand Prix is no cheap matter and losing a whole day’s worth of money on a seat can be frustrating. It seems like the gift cards were a hasty coverup - which many were not thrilled about, especially if they had weekend passes.
Overall, it was a chaotic time at the Las Vegas Grand Prix. There were successful races, but tensions were high for pedestrians, fans, and businesses as everyone made their way through the busy Las Vegas streets.
Opinions aren’t too high for the Las Vegas Grand Prix. It will be interesting to see how the situation goes down in future years and how organizers change their strategies to appease fans. It seems the event might benefit from a shift to appeal to the sport and fans – not the spectacle.
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