‘Shambolic’ Las Vegas Grand Prix hit by delays after F1 car damaged by manhole cover | US News

The controversial Las Vegas Grand Prix has been hit by delays after a car was damaged by a loose manhole cover.

The opening practice round of the Formula One event was halted just eight minutes into the session when racer Carlos Sainz broke down in his Ferrari after it struck the object at 200mph on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Competitor Esteban Ocon also then smashed into the debris in his Alpine vehicle.

Ferrari described the damage to Sainz’s car as “extensive”, while Alpine said Ocon will require a new chassis.

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur said: “He [Sainz] said [he] hit something on track, and he didn’t know what it was. It is just unacceptable for F1.”

November 16th, 2023, Las Vegas Street Circuit, Las Vegas, FORMULA 1 HEINEKEN SILVER LAS VEGAS GRAND PRIX 2023, in the picture The damaged car of Carlos Sainz Jr. (ESP), Scuderia Ferrari is recovered with a crane. Photo by: Hasan Bratic/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Sainz’s damaged car is removed from the track. Pic: AP

The practice round was suspended, while the second session was pushed back by at least two hours while staff rushed to carry out emergency repairs.

Second practice resumed at 2.30am local time (10.30am UK time).

A spokesperson for F1 governing body FIA said: “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.”

Viewers described the disruption as a “shambles” in posts on social media, with many also expressing fears for the safety of the drivers taking part in the event, which has cost organisers half a billion dollars to set up.

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports: “They are going to have to check all the manhole covers and weld them or do something because you can see the damage that it has done.

“It’s a great shame for the fans but safety comes first. We have got to get this right and hopefully it won’t take too long.”

A worker fills in a hole before the start of the second practice session for the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix auto race, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Nick Didlick)
A worker tries to repair some of the damage to the track. Pic: AP

It is the first time in four decades that Las Vegas has held a Grand Prix and criticisms have been raised about whether it is a suitable location to host the event.

Triple world champion Max Verstappen is among those to have raised concerns about the quality of the track, which he described as “not exciting”.

The racer also told reporters he believed the event was “99% show and 1% sport”.

However, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff offered an impassioned defence of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

“That is not a black eye, this is nothing,” he said.

“They’re going to seal the drain covers, and nobody’s going to talk about that tomorrow morning anymore.

“It’s completely ridiculous, completely ridiculous. FP1 – how can you even dare trying to talk bad about the event that sets the new standards, new standards to everything.”

He added: “And then you’re speaking about a drain cover that’s been undone. That has happened before, that’s nothing. It’s FP1. Give credit to the people that have set up this Grand Prix, that have made this sport much bigger than it ever was.”

It is not the first time that street fixtures have caused disruption to the sport.

Jenson Button struck a dislodged drain in practice in Monaco in 2016, while George Russell also ran over a drain cover in Azerbaijan four years ago.


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