Eight minutes into the first free practice of the inaugural race weekend on the streets of Las Vegas, Sainz suffered massive damage to his Ferrari’s chassis, floor and powertrain after tearing up the concrete frame of his car. ‘a manhole cover on the iconic Strip.
In another incident, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon also suffered significant damage, necessitating chassis replacement.
Sainz’s incident prompted a red flag, with the session quickly abandoned as track workers had to check every manhole cover on the 6.2km street layout, with discussions taking place to extend FP2 by Thursday evening.
When asked to comment on the damage to Sainz’s car, team principal Vasseur said: “The situation is that we have completely damaged the monocoque, the engine and the battery. And I think that This is simply unacceptable.”
“We had a very difficult time. It’s going to cost us a fortune. We screwed up the session for Carlos. We won’t make FP2, that’s for sure, we have to change chassis.”
“Okay, the show is the show and everything is going well, but I think it’s just unacceptable for F1 today.”
Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images
Carlos Sainz’s car, Ferrari SF-23, is swept away after hitting a sewer blockage
The incident caused a major disruption on the first day of racing, but could have ended much worse had it occurred on the fastest part of the circuit, a 1.9km flat-out run on the Strip.
Initial investigations by Ferrari concluded that Sainz’s seat was also damaged by the loud noise.
Asked if he thought F1 had its priorities straight after touting its glamorous return to Las Vegas but being plagued by teething problems related to the security of the circuit itself, Vasseur wanted to keep the two subjects separate.
“We don’t need to mix it up. I think the show is mega and I’m very happy with what Liberty (Media) has done around race. And I think it’s a huge step forward for F1,” he replied.
“We have to separate what is the spectacle and the sporting side, and the spectacle is mega. But it is not because we do that that it is not necessary to do the work on the sporting side.”
McLaren team boss Zak Brown also thought it was unfair to suggest the series had taken shortcuts to try and get the event to happen in a compressed timeframe.
“I think first of all, whenever there is an incident, we have to fix it first,” he added. “And then look back and ask yourself, ‘How did this happen?’, whether it was a track problem or a problem you had with your car or whatever it was.
“I think it would be unfair and quick to judge that shortcuts have been cut. This has happened before.
“I don’t think it’s because effort wasn’t made or corners were cut. It’s just because they got it wrong.
“Right now we just need to focus on fixing this problem. I’m sure it was an engineering issue that they will fix.”
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