By John Ensor •
Updated: 17 Nov 2023 • 16:42
Ferrari's Carlos Sainz.
Credit: cristiano barni/Shutterstock.com
With preparation for the Las Vegas Grand Prix underway, Carlos Sainz’s first practice session ended up going down the drain.
In a significant setback, the first practice session for the Las Vegas Grand Prix was abandoned. The reason behind the incident has meant a considerable amount of embarrassment for Formula One management, writes Metro.
The disruption occurred under the dazzling lights of the Las Vegas strip. Spanish Formula One driver, Carlos Sainz encountered a mechanical failure in his Ferrari, causing the session’s suspension with just eight minutes having elapsed.
Sainz’s Ferrari came to a halt due to an unforeseen issue. After a wait of 11 minutes, it was declared that the session wouldn’t continue. The cause of the stoppage was later identified as a dislodged manhole cover.
Sainz was clearly seen being jolted as the cover struck his vehicle with speeds approaching 200mph on the Las Vegas Boulevard.
In what many see as an unduly harsh sanction, the Independent reported that Sainz was subsequently given a 10-place grid penalty by F1 stewards following the incident. Ferrari’s mechanics replaced the chassis and the engine, something that according to the letter of the law is not allowed in such circumstances.
The incident had a ripple effect, with, French driver, Esteban Ocon colliding into the scattered debris. The collision which took place amidst the iconic Caesars Palace, Bellagio, and Venetian hotels, and resulted in considerable damage to his Alpine car. Ferrari reported ‘extensive’ damage to Sainz’s car, and Alpine announced the need for a new chassis for Ocon.
Frederic Masseur, Ferrari’s team principal, expressed his dismay, stating, ‘He (Sainz) said “I hit something on track,” and he didn’t know what it was. It is just unacceptable for F1.’
Meanwhile, an FIA spokesperson revealed, ‘Following an inspection, a concrete frame around a manhole cover has failed. We now need to check all of the other manhole covers which will take some time.
‘We will be discussing with the local circuit engineering team about the length of time it will take to resolve and we will update with any resultant changes to the schedule.’
The second practice, initially scheduled to start at midnight local time faced a delay. There were significant doubts about any further activity at the 3.8-mile temporary street circuit for the day.
Former driver and F1 pundit Martin Brundle, commented on Sky Sports, ‘That’s it for today from my experience. Fixing that and checking everything else, letting it dry and making sure it won’t come out again is going to be a big job.
‘Theoretically, they are going to re-open the Strip (for public use) after the F1 practice sessions. That is a very, very big issue if there are other areas like that around the track.’
The incident underscored the unpredictable nature of street circuits, especially in a high-stakes environment like Formula One. Madrid-born Sainz is currently lying sixth in the overall drivers championship.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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