Formula 1 was returning to Las Vegas for the first time since 1982; Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz suffered significant damage to his car due to a broken drain cover on an all-new track; The FIA has not yet confirmed whether a second practice session will take place
8:08 UK Friday 17 November 2023
Formula One’s return to Las Vegas was thrown into chaos as the opening practice session was called off after just eight minutes of action due to a broken drain cover damaging Carlos Sainz’s car.
With F1 returning to Las Vegas for the first time since 1982 on an all-new track, the red flag was thrown by race director Sainz, the Ferrari suffering significant damage after going over the damaged part of the track on the main straight.
Ocon’s Alpine then suffered damage under the red flag when he hit the scattered debris left by Sainz’s incident.
A further 11 minutes passed before the decision was made to cancel the session, with the second practice subsequently postponed from its scheduled 8am start time.
An FIA statement said: “Following the inspection, the concrete frame around the pit cover failed.
“We now need to check all the other manhole covers which will take some time – we will discuss with the local engineering team the length of time it will take to remove them and update with any resulting schedule changes.”
Speaking at the team principal’s press conference immediately after the session, Ferrari boss Frédéric Vasseur described the incident as “unacceptable” while confirming damage to Sainz’s monocoque, engine and battery.
Meanwhile, Alpine has confirmed that the chassis will need to be replaced on Ocon’s car.
The other Ferrari of Charles Leclerc was leading the grid when the session was halted, but the extremely limited running offered no clue as to what the running order would be for the rest of the weekend.
The incident is not the first time in recent history that a Formula 1 session has been stopped due to a similar problem.
The first practice session of the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix was canceled when George Russell’s Williams hit the trunk lid and broke down.
The opening session of this season’s Canadian Grand Prix was also abandoned after just four minutes due to CCTV problems on the track.
Wolff launches fiery defense of Vegas GP organisers
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has offered a fiery defense of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, which is the first event that F1’s commercial rights owners, Liberty Media, have staged and promoted themselves.
Wolff reacted angrily when asked if the event was a “black eye” for F1.
He said: “It’s not a bruised eye, it’s nothing. It’s Thursday night, we have a free practice that we won’t be doing.
“They’re going to seal the drains and nobody’s going to be talking about it tomorrow morning.”
“This is completely ridiculous, completely ridiculous. FP1 – how dare you even try to talk bad about the event that sets the new standards, new standards for everything.
“And then you’re talking about a drain cover that’s undone. This has happened before, it’s nothing. This is FP1.
“Give credit to the people who created this Grand Prix, who made this sport so much bigger than it has ever been.
“Have you ever spoken well of someone and written a kind word? You have to do it for all those people who have been here. Liberty did a great job and just because the drain cover came off in FP1 we shouldn’t moan.
“The car is broken. This is really a shame for Carlos. It could have been dangerous. So between the FIA and the track, everyone has to analyze how we can make sure this doesn’t happen again.
“But talking here about the blue eyes for Thursday night sport, nobody’s watching that on European time anyway.”
When to watch the Las Vegas GP live on Sky Sports
Friday November 17
- TB: Las Vegas GP Practice Two
- TBC: The F1 Show: Las Vegas
Saturday November 18
- 4:15 am: Las Vegas GP Third practice session (session starts at 4.30am)
- 7am: Las Vegas Grand Prix Qualifying Build-up (also on Sky Showcase)
- 8am: Las Vegas GP Qualifying (also on Sky Showcase)
- 10am: Ted’s qualifying notebook
Sunday 19 November
- 4.30am: Grand Prix Sunday: Las Vegas GP Build-up (also on Sky Showcase)
- 6am: LAS VEGAS GRAND PRIX (also on Sky Showcase)
- 8am: Checkered flag: Las Vegas GP reaction (also on Sky Showcase)
- 9am: Ted’s Notebook (also on Sky Showcase)
Get ready for the big one: Formula 1 in Las Vegas! See drivers race down the Strip and past landmarks like Caesars Palace and Bellagio on F1’s newest street circuit. Watch the entire Las Vegas GP weekend live on Sky Sports F1 starting this Friday with lights out on Sunday at 6am. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW