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F1: Las Vegas Grand Prix practice halted after Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz hits manhole cover at around 200 mph

The controversial Las Vegas Grand Prix has been hit by delays after a car was damaged by a loose manhole cover.

The opening practice round of Formula One The event was interrupted just eight minutes into the session when driver Carlos Sainz broke down in his Ferrari after hitting the object at around 200 mph on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Competitor Esteban Ocon also then hit the debris in his Alpine vehicle.

Ferrari described the damage to Sainz’s car as “significant”, while Alpine said Ocon would need a new chassis.

No injuries were reported.

Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari team principal, said: “He (Sainz) said he hit something on the track, and he didn’t know what it was. This is simply unacceptable for F1 .”

Sainz’s damaged car is taken off the track. Photo: AP

The training session was suspended, while the second session was delayed by two and a half hours as staff rushed to make emergency repairs.

Second trials resumed at 2:30 a.m. local time (10:30 a.m. UK time).

A spokesperson for FIA, F1’s governing body, said: “Following an inspection, a concrete frame around a manhole broke.

“We now need to check all the other manhole covers, which will take some time.”

Viewers described the disruptions as a “mess” in their social media posts, and many also expressed fears for the safety of drivers taking part in the event, which cost the country half a billion dollars to organize. organizers.

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports: “They’re going to have to check all the manhole covers and weld them or do something because you can see the damage it’s caused.”

“It’s a real shame for the fans, but safety comes first. We have to get this right and I hope it doesn’t take too long.”

A worker fills a hole before the start of the second practice session for the Las Vegas Grand Prix Formula One auto race, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, in Las Vegas.  (AP Photo/Nick Didlick)
A worker tries to repair some of the damage caused to the track. Photo: AP

It is the first time in four decades that the city has hosted a Grand Prix, with F1 chiefs vowing the high-profile event would be the “greatest spectacle on earth”.

It kicked off with a glittering opening ceremony featuring music stars including John Legend.

But there was also criticism over whether the city was a suitable venue to hold the event.

Three-time world champion Max Verstappen is among those who have expressed concerns about the track, which he described as “not exciting”.

The rider also told reporters that he thought the event was “99% spectacle and 1% sport.”

November 16, 2023;  Las Vegas, Nevada, United States;  Charles LeClerc, driver of Scuderia Ferrari de Monaco (16 years old), during free practice on the Las Vegas Strip circuit.  Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Organizers spent $500m (£402m) on the event

However, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has offered a passionate defense of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

“It’s not a black eye, it’s nothing,” he said. “They’re going to seal the pipe covers, and no one will talk about it again in the morning.

“It’s completely ridiculous, completely ridiculous. FP1 (Free Practice One) – how can you even dare try to speak ill of the event that sets new standards, new standards for everything.”

He added: “And then you’re talking about a drain cover being undone. It’s happened before, it’s nothing. It’s FP1. Let’s pay tribute to the people who organized this Grand Prix, who made this sport much bigger than it ever was.”

This is not the first time that street matches have disrupted the sport.

Jenson Button hit a dislodged drain during training in Monaco in 2016, while George Russell also crushed a drain cover in Azerbaijan four years ago.

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