Las Vegas GP: Loose manhole cover forces FP1 cancellation!

© XPB 

It was an inauspicious start to the Las Vegas GP weekend, with Thursday’s opening practice concluding after just nine minutes following an incident involving the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz.

Sainz was cruising down Las Vegas’ Strip on an early reconnaissance lap when a loud thump was heard, jolting the Spaniard’s SF-23 and forcing the car to an immediate halt and triggering a red flag.

Shortly after, it was reported that the underside of Esteban Ocon’s Alpine had also suffered a massive impact with an unidentified object while passing Sainz’s car.

Damage to the underside of the Alpine was considerable, with the team suspecting that a chassis change was in order.

Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur also indicated that the underside of Sainz’s car had also been heavily damaged.

It was immediately found that a loose manhole cover had been the culprit of the destruction, which justified the cancellation of the remainder of FP1 as a thorough track inspection was scheduled.

“Following inspection, it was the concrete frame around a manhole cover that has failed," the FIA explained in a statement.

"We now need to check all of the other manhole covers which will take some time - 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 prospect of a lengthy process to verify the hundreds of manhole structures around the track did not bode well for the remainder of the day.

The situation recalled the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, when George Russell’s Williams sustained heavy damage after hitting a loose drain cover.

Ahead of the FP1 stoppage, Charles Leclerc had set the fastest lap in 1M44.019s.

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter