The first-ever running of the modern Las Vegas Grand Prix is one of the most expensive tickets in all of sports, but fans who visited the city theoretically had a more affordable chance to see the cars and stars of Formula 1 during practice day on Thursday. The day's first practice session was canceled after eight minutes, and fans who stuck around for a long-delayed second session that eventually started at 2:30 AM local time were kicked out by event organizers.
Fans with a ticket to only Thursday's running were not given a refund by organizers, just a $200 voucher to the event shop. Three-day ticket holders don't even get that. A lengthy joint statement includes no apology to fans at the track, something that Motorsport's Jon Noble notes may be a form of legal protection against a future lawsuit.
A fan who traveled to Las Vegas just to use their Thursday ticket would have seen less than eight minutes of cars on track and could have waited five hours in the late night desert cold before being told that they would not be allowed to watch the second practice session of the day. With inflated pricing for event-specific apparel, their $200 is not even enough to cover an entire McLaren jacket before taxes.
Unsurprisingly, fans who spoke to the Athletic about the ordeal were unsatisfied with the deal and confused by the whole situation. Their ire is shared by an unlikely voice, three-time F1 world champion Max Verstappen. The sport's superstar, already vocally unhappy with both the events around the race and the track itself, was asked by Dutch TV about the refund situation. He responded, simply: "If I was a fan, I would tear the whole place down."
Friday's practice and qualifying sessions ran without an issue and the track's drainage problem appears to have been solved ahead of the Saturday night race. Whether or not fans forget how they were treated on Thursday is another story, but the race itself can still be a success.
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