Ferrari fastest in Las Vegas after drain damage drama
Charles Leclerc led Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz in practice one and two on to cap an extraordinary first night at the Las Vegas Grand Prix as the action ended on track at 4am and in front of empty stands after after an earlier play.
Sainz’s performance was all the more remarkable considering the Spaniard’s car was destroyed by a loose drain cover which forced the cancellation of the first practice after just eight minutes of action.
White smoke and sparks erupted from the Ferrari and the cover punctured through the floor, leaving a trail of destruction that prompted an automatic 10-place grid penalty for Saturday night’s race.
The life cell, engine, battery and control electronics were damaged during an incident that Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur called “unacceptable.”
“I think it’s hard for a team to come to Vegas and have this kind of incident,” he said as mechanics rebuilt Sainz’s car.
The action began more than five and a half hours later at 2:30 am after repairs were made to the 3.8 mile course that runs down the famous Strip and against a backdrop of neon-lit hotels and casinos, but with cleared fans from the stands.
Despite the ruling FIA recognizing “extremely unusual external circumstances,” Formula One stewards said Sainz would still incur a 10-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.
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