Las Vegas Grand Prix officials attempted damage control on Friday after fans were sent home and missed most of Thursday night's practice sessions, offering $200 merchandise vouchers to single-day ticket holders.
The highly-anticipated first look at the track along the famed Las Vegas Strip lasted a mere eight minutes before Carlos Sainz's Ferrari was badly damaged by a loose drain cover, leading to the swift cancellation of the session.
What followed was a five-and-a-half-hour break while crews removed all 30 covers along the 3.8-mile circuit and filled the holes with sand and asphalt as drivers blared Lionel Richie's "All Night Long (All Night)" from their garages.
Finally, a second, 90-minute practice kicked off before empty grandstands at 2:30 a.m. on Friday morning, long after fans had been cleared out in a move officials said was a necessary safety precaution.
"Following last night's incident involving a water valve cover, the Las Vegas Grand Prix, F1 and the FIA were faced with the difficult decision to close the fan zones prior to the beginning of Free Practice 2," said a message to holders of tickets for Thursday's practice.
"We appreciate your patience while we remedied the situation. This was not a decision we took lightly. As a thank you for your support, we would like to offer you a $200 voucher to the Las Vegas Grand Prix Official Shop.
"With a full round of practice successfully completed, we look forward to providing a safe and entertaining race weekend for all."
The decision to send fans home was made out of concern for public safety and security officials, who had been on duty for a long time, LVGP CEO Renee Wilm and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, said in a joint statement.
Transportation employees responsible for driving guests back to their hotels were bumping up against the amount of time they could legally and safely drive buses, and hospitality staff needed time to clean and resupply guest areas, they said.
The vast majority of fans in attendance at the inaugural event are on three-day passes and will be attending Friday's practice and qualifying as well as Saturday night's race. They are ineligible for the vouchers.