The troubled Las Vegas Grand Prix has been hit by a lawsuit on behalf of 35,000 fans.
Already controversial for its price tag, comparisons to non-league English football and an incident with a manhole cover, Formula One’s return to Sin City has hit another sharp curve.
The race is expected to begin at 6.00am UK time on Sunday, with Britain’s George Russell starting in third position for Mercedes, behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in pole position.
Sunday’s contest has been hit with a class action lawsuit after the highly anticipated first action on the neon-lit circuit – Thursday’s practice session – lasted less than nine minutes.
Fans who had bought tickets to the event hoping to see drivers tearing down the Las Vegas Strip at breath-taking speeds instead watched as a loose manhole cover tore a hole in Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari, bringing proceedings to a screeching halt.
What followed was a five-and-a-half hour delay while crews removed all 30 covers along the 3.8-mile layout and filled the holes with sand and asphalt.
A second 90-minute practice session began in front of empty grandstands in the middle of the night, long after fans had been cleared out in a move officials said was a necessary safety precaution.
Las Vegas Grand Prix officials attempted damage control, offering $200 (£160) merchandise vouchers to single-day ticket holders, but the compensation did not extend to those who had purchased three-day passes.
“There are a number of issues with that (compensation)”, lawyer Steve Dimopoulos said.
“A lot of fans probably don’t even want that, they want their money back.
“There are also peripheral issues of what about the people that came in from out of town and paid for substantial air fare and hotels.”
News of the lawsuit comes after Verstappen – reigning world champion – compared the Las Vegas Grand Prix to the fifth tier of English football, while suggesting fans just want to get “s***-faced”.
“Monaco is Champions League and this is National League,” he said.
“I feel like the show is important, but I like emotion. When I was a little kid, it was all about the emotion of the sport that I fell in love with and not the show. As a real racer, the show shouldn’t matter.