It was a reward for fans who turned up to hopefully see an exciting bout of FP3 and Qualifying on Saturday, who unfortunately saw no action whatsoever.
There was limited running in FP3, and then the rain got continuously heavier on Saturday, leading to several delays by the FIA as they waited for the bad weather to cease, in an attempt to begin Qualifying. However, the rain did not ease, and at 4pm local time, race control announced that they were forced to postpone Qualifying to 9am on Sunday morning.
It was unfortunate, and also meant that for those who arrived in the afternoon, hoping to see Qualifying, they did not see a single active car that day, as the circuit was shut earlier in the morning to ensure that not one of the fans’ safety was threatened. Therefore, that meant that the FP3 session took place in front of empty grandstands, with fans only arriving later to see Qualifying.
To make up the lack of action to the fans, and to reward their patience, the pit lane was opened to all at 4:20pm local time, with a message from Bernie Eccelstone and circuit chairman Bobby Epstein. At 5pm, the drivers came into the pit lane to meet the fans.
Of course, the drivers and teams were more than happy to meet the fans.