Las Vegas Track Incident Damages F1 Cars

f1 circuit manhole fixing

A street circuit’s charm turned into a nightmare for Ferrari and Alpine during the first practice session in Las Vegas. The session was cut short due to a loose manhole cover that caused significant damage to Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari and Esteban Ocon’s Alpine.

Catch up quick:

  • The Las Vegas practice session was halted after a manhole cover came loose.
  • Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari suffered severe damage, affecting the monocoque, engine, and battery.
  • Alpine’s Esteban Ocon also encountered similar damage to his car.
  • Both teams may need special permission to use new chassis due to the incident.

Go deeper:

The excitement of Formula 1’s first practice session in Las Vegas quickly turned sour when a manhole cover disrupted the event. Ferrari’s team leader, Fred Vasseur, expressed strong frustration over the incident, which caused extensive damage to Carlos Sainz’s car. The loose ‘water valve’ structure on the track not only led to a red flag but also forced the cancellation of the session.

The damage to Sainz’s Ferrari was not minor. The team’s inspection revealed that the monocoque, engine, and battery were all ruined. This means a lot of work and expense for Ferrari, as all these parts need replacing. Vasseur didn’t hide his anger, stating the situation was “unacceptable” and costly, and lamented the lost practice time for Sainz, who would miss the second practice session (FP2).

The Alpine team faced a similar challenge, with Esteban Ocon’s car also taking a hit from the same manhole cover. The damage was severe enough that Alpine had to work on building a new chassis for Ocon. This kind of repair is a big deal in F1, as teams usually stick to one chassis for a race weekend. Now, both Ferrari and Alpine might need to ask for special permission to use a new chassis in the same day, which is usually allowed only in exceptional circumstances, like this one.

Despite the setback, Vasseur remains optimistic, acknowledging that such incidents can happen in sports. He emphasized the importance of track time, especially on a new circuit, and assured that the team would do their best to recover over the weekend. The incident highlights the unpredictable nature of street circuits and the need for thorough track inspections to ensure the safety of drivers and the integrity of their vehicles.

As the Las Vegas track undergoes a comprehensive check of its drains, the FIA has delayed FP2 until it’s safe to proceed. This incident serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between the spectacle of street racing and the rigorous demands of F1 safety standards. Ferrari and Alpine now face a race against time to prepare their cars for the rest of the weekend’s events, hoping for a smoother ride on the streets of Vegas.