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Formula 1 Las Vegas GP

F1 fans tear down view-blocking screens during Las Vegas GP

Formula 1 fans watching the Las Vegas Grand Prix tore down controversial track view-blocking screens along the public areas of the city’s famous Strip during the race, Autosport has learned.

Fans tear holes in netting on the catch fence for a better view

Unlike F1’s first attempt at racing in Vegas in the early 1980s with the Caesars Palace GP, the new showpiece event for the championship promoter and its owner, Liberty Media, incorporates a 1.4-mile-stretch of the Strip on the Las Vegas Boulevard.

The race had already courted some controversy in the weeks leading up to this weekend on this element, when view-blocking filters were applied to areas of pedestrian bridges running over the Strip that prevented people without tickets from seeing the track.

When attempts were made to remove this by local residents, it was replaced in the relevant areas and had cage-like structures added, that also covered the bridges’ upper elements to stop anything being thrown down onto the track.

Shops along the Strip were also prevented from selling glass items during specific times around the F1 track sessions as part of a bid to prevent anything dangerous somehow ending up on the track.

As is the case at many permanent tracks F1 visits, view-blocking screens were also added to many of the fences that lined the tracks’ perimeter on the Strip’s pavement, which remained accessible to the public even during live sessions.

During the Vegas race, as can be seen in the photos above and below, some fans – some clad in team wear merchandise but thought to be without tickets – successfully tore through this to gain a view of the track on the Strip beyond.

Event staff attempted to replace the screens after they were damaged but were unsuccessful.

Fans watch from behind a catch fence

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Fans watch from behind a catch fence

The area of concern was opposite the Planet Hollywood casino and hotel, which sits close to Turn 14 – the main overtaking point – on the track layout.

Following the Australian and Brazilian races this year having their organising bodies summoned to explain incidences of spectators breaching security lines to the respective stewards panels at those events, fan interactions with track infrastructure has been a point of focus for F1 itself and the FIA.

But Autosport understands that no safety concerns regarding fan behaviour was raised in race control during the action-packed proceedings eventually won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

The fences in question also sat away from the barriers lining the track’s edge across the Strip and therefore fans congregating there would not have been in any danger and nor would the drivers racing – as was the risk in Melbourne and Sao Paulo.

The fan action on Saturday night in Vegas followed what had been a controversial first event back in Sin City after the FP1 disaster of the concrete around a water valve cover on the Strip failing and badly damaging Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari.

This led to lengthy delays to the opening day of track action as the valve cover in question and another 30 along the Strip were filled in to stop them moving as the cars shot down the Strip at top speed.

As a result of the work, a 2.5-hour delay to the elongated FP2 session ensued, during which fans were removed from the venue as security shifts ended.

Fans watch from behind a catch fence

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Fans watch from behind a catch fence

Fans that only had tickets for Thursday’s action were offered $200 vouchers to spend in the event's online merchandise store after they only witnessed eight minutes of live track action.

This has been followed by a high-profile Nevada law firm launching legal action against the Las Vegas GP organisation to try and secure refunds for the impacted spectators.

The F1 organisation – which owns the Las Vegas GP organisation event promoter – has been approached for comment regarding the screens being torn down.

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