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Everything that has gone wrong at the Las Vegas Grand Prix

Here’s the blow-by-blow of the biggest disaster in the desert since the family-friendly resort era.

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Carlos Sainz of Spain driving the Ferrari SF-23 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Las Vegas at Las Vegas Strip Circuit on November 17, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

In case you aren’t on social media, or stuck trying to exit I-15 in Southern Nevada, Formula 1’s return to Las Vegas for the first time in 41 years hasn’t exactly gone swimmingly.

And when you’ve spent over $600 million on preparations, but forgot to pay someone to go to Home Depot and pick up an angle grinder and some cement in a five-gallon bucket, it doesn’t feel great. Not after the calamity it took to get to this point in the first place.

The most expensive manhole cover in history

Eight minutes into the first practice, the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz went over a manhole cover that wasn’t ready to deal with the downforce of one of the most expensive pieces of engineering on the planet. His was one of two cars to be damaged in under 600 seconds of what was projected to be the biggest event Las Vegas has ever hosted.

Also Sainz will get a race start penalty for something that clearly isn’t his fault. Well that seems arbitrary and capricious. Who enforces the rules in this sport? The NCAA??

We’ll gently describe that start as inauspicious, but it got worse for the fans that decided to wait out the weather and extremely late night, as they weren’t allowed to watch the qualifying session they paid for after all the security folks just left because their shift was over. Plus the track is required to be opened to non-200 MPH traffic during the day so people can get to work, school, and wanton degeneracy.

Update November 18: A class-action lawsuit has been field on behalf of ticket-holders who were forced to leave the practice. They were offered a $200 F1 merchandise voucher as compensation, which is not enough according to the attorneys claiming the case.

The bridge to nowhere

But even those that did get to see some that glorious eight minutes of practice had to suffer to get there: A pedestrian bridge failed on the east side of the circuit, and people had to walk through the Venetian and Palazzo just to get to their seats they were hastily removed from later.

Let’s hope they can get these bridges operational by the race on Saturday night, otherwise the Canyon Ranch Spa might be overrun with ticket holders in need of some relaxation after all this unnecessary stress. Don’t miss the eucalyptus showers, racing fans.

The drivers hate the race as much as casino VIP hosts

Practice did run for 90 minutes from 2:30-4:00 a.m. PT, with all the lights turned out in the fan zones, and let’s just say the 2023 World Champion Max Verstappen seems to be having as much fun as the race organizers at present.


We’re not going to lie: This is one of the most beautiful shots of the Las Vegas Strip we’ve ever seen:

F1 Grand Prix of Las Vegas - Practice Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

And the proletariat did find a way to watch the cars go vroom vroom around 3:00 a.m. PT anyway. Because Vegas eventually finds a way to take care of people there for the right reasons.

It’s not looking like we’ll consider the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix a success. But the question is can they get through the race this weekend and learn enough to get everything fixed operationally before tearing up the town again next year?