Las Vegas Grand Prix finishes third practice, set to roll

The third practice run of the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix ended prematurely late Friday when the red flags came out in the final minutes of the session, capping a chaotic lead up to Saturday night’s race.

Mercedes’ George Russell completed the trip around the Las Vegas Strip Circuit in 1 minute 34.093, with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri 0.398 back and Williams’ Logan Sargeant 0.552 behind.

The opening practice session Thursday night was red-flagged after just eight minutes when Spain’s Carlos Sainz drove over a cover that had become dislodged.

Emergency repairs to 30 drain covers around the 1.3 mile circuit on the Vegas Strip delayed the second practice session from its original start time to 2:30 a.m. local time.

The second session was completed without incident, but also without spectators, who were sent home after 1:30 a.m.

The day of troubles led Renee Wilm, the CEO of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, and Stefano Domenicali, the CEO of Formula 1, to issue a joint statement Friday night addressing the issues and explaining why fans and staff were not permitted at the second practice.

“Our top priority at Formula 1 is the safety and security of our drivers, employees, and fans,” the statement read. “Responsibility for the oversight of a Formula 1 event falls with Formula 1 as the commercial rights holder of the sport, the FIA as the regulatory body, and the local promoter, in this case the Las Vegas Grand Prix.”

The statement added that fans were unable to watch practice because of staffing issues, largely due to staffing issues.

“We know this was disappointing. We hope our fans will understand based on this explanation that we had to balance many interests, including the safety and security of all participants and the fan experience over the whole race weekend.

“We have all been to events, like concerts, games and even other Formula 1 races, that have been cancelled because of factors like weather or technical issues. It happens, and we hope people will understand.”