Formula 1 drivers recently found themselves facing an unexpected and potentially perilous situation at the start of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, sparking calls for the FIA to address what they deem an “unfair” and “unacceptable” condition of the starting grid—oil spillage.
One of the cherished traditions before every race is the introduction of the 20 drivers to the enthusiastic grandstand crowd, a moment made even more special with vintage cars chosen for this grand presentation.
However, this time, just 90 minutes before the race was set to commence, classic cars carrying Oscar Piastri and Lewis Hamilton inadvertently leaked oil onto the grid, specifically on the side closest to the pit wall. While marshals promptly sprang into action, spreading cement dust over the affected area to absorb the oil, questions linger about whether this response was sufficient to mitigate the issue.
The incident has raised concerns among Formula 1 drivers who had to contend with the slippery conditions on the starting grid. The Las Vegas Grand Prix, being a relatively new addition to the Formula 1 calendar, has quickly gained popularity among fans and racers alike. Still, the oil spill incident serves as a stark reminder of the challenges that can arise on unfamiliar circuits.
Drivers are adamant about the need for a more permanent solution to prevent such situations from recurring. The unpredictability of oil on the grid can have serious repercussions, not only compromising the drivers’ safety but also impacting the overall race dynamics.
The Formula 1 community now looks to the FIA for swift action to address this issue and ensure that the starting grid remains a fair and safe platform for all drivers. It’s clear that while tradition and spectacle are integral to the sport, safety should always be the top priority.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz disclosed that the presence of oil on the grid led to an unfortunate incident where he slid into Lewis Hamilton at Turn 1. Expressing his strong dissatisfaction with the compromised track conditions due to the oil spill, he emphatically called upon the FIA to investigate and address this issue, emphasizing its unacceptability.
“I saw a lot of oil from the cars that we used to do the drivers’ parade, which is another thing for the FIA to look at.
“It is not fair that all the oil was on the inside line. Apart from the dirty track already being there, we put cars on that are leaking oil on the track an hour before the race. Again, this is unacceptable.
“That probably cost us with the crashes into Turn 1.”
Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, who secured the 11th position, echoed similar sentiments. He expressed his concerns, remarking:
“It wasn’t nice, especially lining up on the best spot of the year for us [in fourth].
“I’ve discussed it already with FIA, and I’m sure we’ll change a few things, because it doesn’t feel really fair that some guy’s got to start on oil and some others have clear Tarmac. I’m sure they’ll fix it.”
George Russell, Director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association and the driver who began from the third position, offered his perspective, stating:
“It’s not the first time we’ve seen these historical cars dropping oil.
“It was pretty shocking to see how bad it was. But they did a good job to clear it up for the race.”