Lawsuit filed against F1 Las Vegas GP organizers after FP1 incident

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 16: The car of Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari is removed from the circuit after stopping on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Las Vegas at Las Vegas Strip Circuit on November 16, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

A class action lawsuit has been filed against F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix organizers after fans were forced to leave early Thursday morning after only getting to see less than 10 minutes on car on track for a practice session.

When cars hit the street course for the first practice session Thursday Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz hit a water valve cover damaging his car. Officials stopped the session to repair and inspect the course. The practice session practice commenced again at 2:30 a.m. local time. Officials, however, decided to close the spectator areas early to start preparing the streets to reopen for the morning commute.

“There is no higher priority at a Formula 1 race than the safety and security of drivers, fans and staff alike,” a joint statement issued early Friday from race officials said. “Given the lateness of the hour and logistical concerns regarding the safe movement of fans and employees out of the circuit, LVGP made the difficult decision to close the fan zones prior to the beginning of Free Practice 2.”

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali and Las Vegas Grand Prix CEO Renee Wilm, said the decision to clear everyone out by 2 a.m. was done in interests of safety, security and staffing needs.

“We know this was disappointing. We hope our fans will understand based on this explanation that we had to balance many interests, including the safety and security of all participants and the fan experience over the whole race weekend,” the joint statement read. “We have all been to events, like concerts, games and even other Formula 1 races, that have been cancelled because of factors like weather or technical issues. It happens, and we hope people will understand.”

There was no apology given by officials and later Friday the sanctioning body sent out emails with $200 voucher codes to the Las Vegas Grand Prix official shop.

That move didn’t sit well with fans and some drivers. When F1 world champion Max Verstappen was told by Dutch television that fans who were sent home before second practice were offered $200 in vouchers for the race merchandise store as compensation, he said: “If I was a fan, I would tear the whole place down.”

Saturday the first of what could be many, lawsuits was filed.

The lawsuit alleges breach of contract, negligence, and deceptive trade practices against the defendants.

“We will vindicate the rights of the fans that traveled great distances and paid small fortunes to attend, but were deprived of the experience,” said Dimopoulos Law Firm owner and lead attorney, Steve Dimopoulos.

Las Vegas resident John Megna and his two adult children each paid $2,258 for three-day race tickets. To only catch a few minutes of F1 drivers practicing before being forced to leave left a bad taste in Megna’s mouth, calling it “an absolute disaster for the fans.”

“All the fans were kicked out prior to the second practice session,” Megna told the Las Vegas Review Journal via email. “Most fans wouldn’t leave after announcements were made, so police were used to clear the stands.”

Megna also said all the bathrooms were locked as fans made their way out of the area.

“Many people commented that this would be like the Raiders or Golden Knights playing for five minutes, then stopping, kicking all the fans out and then resuming play,” Megna said.

The lawsuit’s defendants are Liberty Media Corporation DBA Formula One Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix and TAB Contractors, Inc.


Greg Engle