Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff hopes Formula 1 can find a way to “pay back” the fans who missed out on watching practice at last weekend’s Las Vegas Grand Prix.
F1’s return to Vegas for the first time in 41 years got underway on a torrid note when the first practice hour was abandoned after eight minutes as two cars sustained extensive damage from a loose water valve cover.
The second session, extended to 90 minutes, was delayed for two-and-a-half hours as the relevant parties carried out checks of other drain covers around the new 6.2km circuit.
However, FP2 finally commenced at 2:30am local time without any spectators in attendance due to federal laws dictating working hours for public safety officials.
While Wolff accepts it wasn’t the ideal way to begin the inaugural weekend at the Las Vegas Strip Circuit, he cites how the circumstances couldn’t be prevented.
“Thursday was so difficult with the drain cover coming loose, the driving from 2:30 to 4am also to see whether everything was fine for the following day,” Wolff said.
“I think it was unforeseen circumstances. You can’t make people work [at the] track that late. And I think for next year, maybe we can create some kind of buffer. But it was unforeseen circumstances.”
The fans who had remained throughout the delay were only informed that the grandstands would be closed around an hour before second practice eventually started.
Wolff admits better communication should have been used, adding that he hopes those impacted will be suitably compensated.
“Often communication can do a lot to make the situation better,” the Austrian highlighted. “I hope for the people that ended up upset for the right reasons we can find a good package for next year so they can enjoy the race and in a way maybe we can pay them back for the unfortunate situation.”
Speaking after the incident that curtailed FP1, Wolff proceeded to embark on a tirade that disagreed with the notion that the episode had been a “black eye” for the event.
With Sunday’s race featuring a thrilling three-way tussle for the race lead and a total of 99 overtakes, Wolff believes the 50-lap encounter vindicated his earlier comments.
“That was an awesome weekend,” he contended. “The drain cover was nothing, like I said.
“When you look back at tonight on Sunday, spectacular race, great audiences, mega event. Some good racing at the front, that’s what I will remember [with the] inaugural Las Vegas race. Ticked all the boxes.”