Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff says that canceling Free Practice at the Las Vegas Grand Prix and having no fans in the grandstands for the second practice is not a black eye for Formula One. There was widespread criticism of the sport following the delay to the start of the second practice and the fact that fans were asked to leave the fan areas however, LVGP organizers later explained that this was to ensure the safety of fans and team personnel given the late hour.
While Ferrari Team Principal Frederic Vasseur said that the damage done to the track was unacceptable, speaking during the team principal press conference, Toto Wolff said the situation should not be blown out of proportion.
Speaking in response to a question put him during the press conference, Wolff said:
That is not a black eye. This is nothing. We are Thursday night, we have a Free Practice 1 session that we’re not doing. They’re going to seal the drain covers and nobody’s going to talk about that tomorrow morning anymore…
In a follow-up question, a clearly irritated Wolff said:
It’s completely ridiculous, completely ridiculous! FP1, how can you even dare trying to talk bad about an event that sets the new standards, new standards to everything. And then you’re speaking about a fucking drain cover that’s been undone, that has happened before. That’s nothing. It’s FP1. Give credit to the people that have set up this Grand Prix, that have made the sport much bigger than it ever was. Have you ever spoken good about someone and written a good word? You should about all these people that have been out here. Liberty has done an awesome job. And just because in FP1 a drain cover has become undone, we shouldn’t be moaning. The car is broken, that’s really a shame. For Carlos, it could have been dangerous, so between the FIA and the track and everybody needs to analyse how we can make sure that this is not happening again. But talking here about a black eye for the sport on a Thursday evening. Nobody watches that in European time anyway.