Formula One's first practice for the Las Vegas Grand Prix was cut short after just nine minutes due to a car being severely damaged by a loose manhole cover. The incident caused a delay of 2 1/2 hours before the next practice session could start. Attendees were asked to leave the fan viewing areas in the meantime. Workers rushed to fix the issue by removing all drain caps along the four-mile track and filling them with asphalt and sand. However, the track had to be closed later on to reopen the streets for morning commuters.
Organizers explained that the delay was necessary for the safety of drivers, staff, and participants, but did not apologize to the fans. In an attempt to make up for the inconvenience, Thursday-only ticket holders were offered a $200 credit to the official merchandise store.
This incident comes at a crucial time for Formula One, as it makes its debut in Las Vegas. The event is expected to bring in more than $1 billion to the local economy, and Formula One has signed a $500 million contract to bring the race to Sin City annually for the next 10 years. However, the opening-night debacle raises questions about the viability of the event and Formula One's ability to recover.