Toto Wolff believes F1 should have done a better job communicating last Thursday’s events in Las Vegas to fans on site and hopes the latter will be offered as compensation a “good package” for next year’s race.
Formula 1 is facing a class action lawsuit on behalf of an estimated 35,0000 spectators who were walked out of the grandstands and prevented from watching the event’s delayed FP2 session.
The troubles kicked off just eight minute into the first practice session when Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari struck a loose water valve cover, causing significant damage to the Spaniard’s car.
The session was red flagged as it was quickly determined that it would not be safe to continue. But the subsequent track inspection delayed the start of FP2 until 2:30 am, or well past the time when the circuit’s unionized security staff was scheduled to end its shift.
Without the latter on site, F1 was compelled to eject from the premises those fans who had patiently waited for the action to resume, leaving the session to take place behind closed gates.
Wolff deplored the situation but the Mercedes F1 boss reckoned that no one could have predicted such an unfortunate turn of events.
“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.”
After the cancellation of FP1, the fans that remained on site were informed of their obligation to leave the track just one hour before the start of FP2.
F1 announced the following day that one-day ticket holders would be compensated with a $200 voucher to be spent at F1’s official Las Vegas merchandise boutique.
Wolff believes that F1’s communication could have bene better while additional compensation should be granted to Thursday’s spectators.
“Often communication can do a lot to make the situation better,” the Austrian said.
“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.”
In the aftermath of FP1’s water valve cover drama, Wolff forcefully dismissed suggestions that the incident was a “black eye” for F1, arguing that the event’s rocky start would be quickly forgotten by the time race day rolled around.
Wolff believes his stance was validated by Saturday’s thrilling, action-packed spectacular in Las Vegas.
“That was an awesome weekend,” he said. “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.”