Las Vegas GP Opening Practice Cut Short After Manhole Cover Comes Loose
The Las Vegas Grand Prix got off to an embarrassing start when the first practice session on the new circuit was abandoned after nine minutes of racing on Thursday due to a loose drain cover. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz’s vehicle was stopped after hitting the cover, causing him to be red flagged and damaging the front of his vehicle. After some delay the organizers announced that the session would not resume.
“After inspection, it was the concrete frame around the manhole cover that failed. We now have to check all the other manhole covers which will take some time,” the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement.
“We will be discussing with the local circuit engineering team the time it will take to resolve and will update any changes to the schedule as a result.”
The second practice session was scheduled for midnight local time in Vegas and the organizers faced a race against time to complete the checks and any necessary repairs in time.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc posted the fastest lap with a time of 1:40.909.
The Italian team said they were checking the damage to Sainz’s car but said it “appeared to be quite extensive”.
Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur, clearly angry and using profanity in a news conference, had no chance of Sainz taking part in the second session.
“We completely damaged the Monaco, the engine, the battery. I think it’s just unacceptable,” he said.
“It cost us a fortune. We will not be part of FP2 for sure. I think it is unacceptable for F1 today,” he said.
Mercedes team chief executive Toto Wolff responded angrily to a reporter’s question about whether the incident was a “black eye” for the sport’s organisers.
“That’s not a black eye, this is nothing. We’re Thursday night, we’ve got FP1 we’re not doing, they’re going to seal the rain covers and nobody’s going to talk about that tomorrow morning,” said the German.
“It is completely ridiculous. How can you even dare to talk badly about an event that sets new standards in everything. You are talking about a drain over which was canceled, which happened before and there is nothing, ” he said.
“Between the FIA and the track everyone needs to analyze how we can make sure this doesn’t happen again but talking about a black eye for the sport on Thursday evening, nobody sees that in European weather anyway ,” he said.
Esteban Ocon’s Alpine also suffered damage and the team had to start changing the chassis on his car.
A similar incident occurred at the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix when George Russell, then racing for Williams, had his car hit by a loose manhole cover and the first practice session was cancelled.
Thursday’s opening practice was the first time the new circuit was run.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)
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