The first practice session for the Las Vegas Grand Prix ended in a trick-or-treat on Thursday evening (local time). The session was stopped after eight minutes because Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz drove over a loose manhole cover.
“The session will not be resumed because it takes some time to understand exactly what is happening on the track,” the FIA said in a short statement.
Sainz stopped after only a few minutes on one of the many straights. Pictures later showed a hole in the asphalt. Esteban Ocon’s car was also seriously damaged. The Frenchman from the Alps has to get a new chassis because his flooring is damaged beyond repair.
It is unclear to what extent the suspension of training will affect the rest of the weekend. The FIA will investigate all other manhole covers at the Nevada Street Circuit in the coming hours.
This is not the first time a loose manhole cover has caused problems on a street circuit in Formula 1. The same thing happened in first practice in Baku at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in 2019. Manhole covers were also loosened at the Grand Prix major in Monaco in previous years.
Stopping first practice is another blow to GP Las Vegas
The fact that the first free practice was canceled is a new blow to the organization of the Las Vegas Grand Prix. There has been a lot of criticism in recent weeks, especially from local residents. Major access roads have been closed for months, and race ticket prices — the cheapest tickets cost just over $1,000 — are unaffordable for many people.
Max Verstappen was also highly critical of the event earlier this week. “This Grand Prix is 1 percent sporting event and 99 percent entertainment,” said the Dutchman, who claimed his third world title earlier this year.
Formula 1 returns to Vegas this weekend after 41 years. This is the third race in the United States after Miami and Austin. The organization spent half a billion dollars to make this event a success.
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