Las Vegas GP Opening Practice Cancelled After Manhole Covers Damage Cars – The initial practice session of the Las Vegas Grand Prix was halted after just eight minutes due to a significant and perilous collision involving Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari and a dislodged drain cover. Multiple drain covers are suspected to have become displaced, prompting the FIA to assess the safety of all covers along the street circuit for confirmation of their integrity.
The occurrence marked a humiliating start to the Formula One race, organized and promoted by the sport’s owners, who aim to grow its presence in the US market. The expenses for hosting the event in downtown Las Vegas are estimated to be as high as US$700 million. F1 characterized the incident as a “water-valve cover” failure. Sainz was navigating the main straight along Las Vegas Boulevard, known as the Strip, where cars reach speeds exceeding 200mph.
His car experienced a significant impact from below in the vicinity of the Bellagio casino. Following the incident, he came to a stop near a marshal post. Images of the car’s underfloor revealed substantial damage, and the drain cover was observed to have been completely dislodged from its intended concrete surround meant to secure it in place. “It is just unacceptable,” said a furious Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur.
“It cost us a fortune. We fucked up the session for Carlos. We won’t be part of FP2 for sure. I think it’s just unacceptable for F1 today.” The session was stopped three minutes after the incident for safety reasons. An FIA spokesperson said: “Following inspection, it was the concrete frame around a manhole cover that 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 will update with any resultant changes to the schedule.” Esteban Ocon’s Alpine is reported to have sustained damage from a drain cover as well. The commencement of free practice two is contingent on ensuring the safety of the track, leading to a delay in its start, and the session’s exact time remains unconfirmed.
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Upon the suspension of the session, disapproving sounds echoed through the grandstands along the start-finish straight, where weekend tickets, at their most affordable, were priced at $1,700. The absence of support races and the lack of prior F1 practice on the track were notable due to the logistical challenges posed by closing the city’s roads. This unexpected turn of events left spectators in anticipation, as the uncertainty surrounding the track’s safety prompted cautious deliberations.