19 Nov 2023

Las Vegas GP hit with lawsuit after practice cancelled

1:20 pm on 19 November 2023
Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing Honda   during qualifying of Austria GP, 10th round of Formula 1 World Championship in Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Osterreich, Austria, 30/06/23 (Photo by Andrea Diodato/NurPhoto) (Photo by Andrea Diodato / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP)

Dutch driver and Formula One champion Max Verstappen was one of many drivers to criticise the Las Vegas event. Photo: ANDREA DIODATO

The troubled Las Vegas Formula One Grand Prix has been hit with a class action lawsuit on behalf of the 35,000 people who bought tickets for Thursday's practice session which was cancelled when Carlos Sainz's Ferrari was damaged by a loose drain cover.

The highly-anticipated first action on the neon-lit circuit, which includes a section along the famed Las Vegas Strip, lasted a little over eight minutes before coming to a halt.

What followed was a five-and-a-half-hour break while crews removed all 30 covers along the 3.8-mile (6.1-kilometre) layout and filled the holes with sand and asphalt.

A second 90-minute practice session began in front of empty grandstands at 2.30am on Friday, long after fans had been cleared out, in a move officials said was a necessary safety precaution.

Las Vegas Grand Prix officials attempted damage control, offering $200 merchandise vouchers to single-day ticket holders.

The compensation did not extend to those who had purchased three-day passes.

Dimopoulos Law Firm and co-counsel JK Legal & Consulting said they had filed a class-action lawsuit against the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix (LVGP) in Nevada state court on Friday on behalf of the people who purchased tickets for the practice run.

The lawsuit named Formula One owners and race promoters Liberty Media Corporation, DBA Formula One Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix and TAB Contractors Inc as defendants.

"There are a number of issues with that (compensation)," Steve Dimopoulos told Reuters in a phone interview on Saturday.

"Clearly that ($200 merchandise voucher) is not a refund that is sufficient.

"A lot of fans probably don't even want that; they want their money back.

"There are also peripheral issues of what about the people that came in from out of town and paid for substantial air fare and hotels."

The decision to send fans home was made out of concern for public safety and security officials who had been on duty for a long time, LVGP CEO Renee Wilm and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, said in a joint statement.

Qualifying took place on Friday and was completed without incident.

Formula One did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

- Reuters

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