Manhole Cover on Las Vegas Grand Prix Course Halts First Practice of the Weekend


LAS VEGAS (AP) — The first Formula One practice of the Las Vegas Grand Prix was halted less than 21 minutes into Thursday night’s session after Carlos Sainz Jr. ran over a manhole cover on the track.

Race officials released a statement that an inspection by Formula One and FIA determined “a single water valve cover … failed.” They added that F1, FIA and local engineers were working to resolve the problem, but didn’t provide a potential time frame.

“We will provide an update on the race schedule as soon as possible,” the statement said. “During this review period, all tickets, food and beverage and entertainment options will continue to be honored, and we remain focused on providing our patrons with a great experience.”

The FIA later said Sainz hit the concrete frame around a manhole cover and the governing body must now inspect every manhole cover on the course.

“We will be discussing with the local circuit engineering team about the length of time it will take to resolve and will update with any resultant changes to the schedule,” the FIA said.

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There is a second practice scheduled for midnight.

Sainz appeared to run over the manhole cover just nine minutes into the practice on the street course that stretches down the famed Strip. It caused the Ferrari to bottom out and potentially destroyed his engine.

Sainz had climbed from his car and was already walking back toward the garage when the FIA went out onto the track to start an inspection. The session never resumed, but it took about 11 more minutes for the FIA to cancel the session.

Ferrari was inspecting the damage and said it appeared to be “quite extensive.”

Ferrari Principal Fred Vasseur called the incident “just unacceptable for F1” and that Sainz would not be participating in the second practice round.

The 3.85-mile (6.2 kilometer) street circuit utilizes a large portion of the Strip and passes several Las Vegas landmarks on the 17-turn layout. Because much of the course is open to traffic during the day, the FIA was not able to inspect the track and approve it for racing until early Thursday morning after the course had been closed overnight. It appeared the initial inspection began around 3:30 a.m; FIA rules require a track to pass inspection one day before cars are on track.

Esteban Ocon also had a problem before the session was called, and apparently also ran over something because the chassis of his Alpine was heavily damaged. Ocon said as he passed Sainz on the track, he believed he hit the dislodged cover.

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