Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur found himself in the eye of a storm during the first free practice session of the Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend. The cause of his frustration? A loose drain cover that wreaked havoc on Carlos Sainz’s car and left the Formula 1 paddock buzzing with concerns about track safety.
The unexpected incident unfolded on the opening day of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, casting a shadow over the eagerly awaited race. As the cars hit the track for the first practice session, a loose drain cover made its presence felt, leading to an early halt in proceedings. While such occurrences are rare in Formula 1, the consequences were far-reaching.
Carlos Sainz, piloting the scarlet Ferrari, bore the brunt of the mishap. The loose drain cover severely damaged his car, forcing the team into action. It meant that the Scuderia had to undertake the daunting task of changing the car’s chassis on short notice, an extraordinary feat of teamwork and precision under the immense pressure of a race weekend.
But Ferrari wasn’t the sole victim of this unforeseen obstacle. Alpine’s Esteban Ocon also fell prey to the rogue drain cover, adding to the mayhem on the track. His car suffered substantial damage, necessitating swift repairs to ensure the French driver could continue his quest for glory in Las Vegas.
Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu was another casualty of the incident, compounding the misery for the teams involved. The ripple effect of this incident was felt throughout the paddock, prompting discussions on how to prevent such mishaps in the future and ensure the safety of all drivers.
While other team principals, including Toto Wolff, Zak Brown, and James Vowles, provided more measured responses during the press conference, Frederic Vasseur’s frustration was palpable. His impassioned reaction to the incident drew attention, even if it was fleeting, as the interviewer quickly redirected the conversation. The incident served as a stark reminder of the unpredictable nature of Formula 1 and the challenges faced by teams and drivers in the pursuit of excellence.
During the post-session FIA press conference, all eyes were on Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur’s impassioned response. Clearly shaken by the incident, Vasseur strongly criticized the unfortunate occurrence, highlighting the extensive damage inflicted on the Ferrari car and the significant financial strain it brought about. His remarks were characterized by their straightforwardness and intensity:
“We damaged completely the monocoque, the engine, the battery. I think it’s just unacceptable.
“It cost us a fortune. We f***ed up the session for Carlos. We won’t be part of FP2 for sure…. I think it’s just unacceptable for F1 today.”
In the wake of this incident, Formula 1’s stakeholders will undoubtedly be reviewing safety protocols to prevent a recurrence of such unfortunate events. As the Las Vegas Grand Prix continues, all eyes will be on the track, hoping for a safe and thrilling race weekend that showcases the resilience and determination of the teams and drivers.