Las Vegas FP1: Leclerc tops a 10-minute session

Las Vegas FP1: Drain cover damages F1 cars cuts session short

Las Vegas FP1: Leclerc tops a 10-minute session

The hyped 2023 Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix had the worst start possible with FP1 cancelled after 10 minutes of running.

The session was stopped when Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz stopped on the straight ahead of the pit entry after hitting a loose drain cover that caused his SF-23 to stop with damage.

After a few minutes under the Red flag, the session was not resumed to give time for the marshals and stewards to check the track.

Alpine also confirmed that Esteban Ocon’s Alpine would require a chassis change as it also sustained damaged from a loose drain cover.

That meant Leclerc was fastest with a 1:40.909, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in second and 2.5s behind, while Kevin Magnussen was third.

The top three all used Soft tyres to set their times, while Max Verstappen, fourth in the session, set his time on Mediums.

Unfortunately, nothing at all could be read into these times. We wait for FP2.

Buildup towards FP1

Here we are, at the most anticipated Grand Prix of the 2023 Formula 1 season, the Las Vegas Grand Prix. Naturally the anticipation has nothing to do with the Championship as Max Verstappen and Red Bull have already wrapped up the Title double.

But the nail-biting is for Liberty Media and Formula One Management, who have gone all in on this one, investing $500-Million of their own money without having an organizer doing the hard work for them, so they need to make sure it is a success.

Other than that, the race this time is on a proper street circuit, not in a parking lot like back in 1981/82, bit will the new track deliver good racing? We wait and see.

As for all the show and razzmatazz surrounding the event, well we know they can put up a great show stateside and the opening ceremony was one of those, but will that be enough for Liberty and Formula One to get a decent return on their huge investment?

There has been a lot of mixed talks around the race in Las Vegas, some people with, others against, some saying ticket sales have not been up to the expectations, others highlighting the locals’ disgruntlement with the construction and the disruption the event has caused to their lives and businesses.

Tyre-wise, Pirelli have their softest range in Vegas: C3 (Hard), C4 (Medium), and C5 (Soft)

Las Vegas FP1 session highlights

No so many teams brought upgrades for this race. McLaren have a new beam wing and rear wing, while Alpine have brought a new beam wing, a revised a front wing and a revised rear corner with rear drum upper flicks removed.

Aston Martin, who have been struggling with their latest upgrade package from Austin, even racing with a mix of old and new components in Sao Paulo, brought a new front wing and upgraded engine cover/coke bottle.

But the teams went all out with their liveries with Red Bull, AlphaTauri, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Williams and McLaren all bringing custom liveries for Las Vegas.

The session, a night one, started in cool conditions, ambient temperatures at 17 degrees Celsius, track temperatures at 19 degrees.

The teams started practice with a mix of choices in terms of tyres, some opting for Hards, others for Mediums, as George Russell soon broke radio silence informing his team: “Grip is very low.”

Lance Stroll seemed to have car issues, as he was soon out of his car almost eight minutes into the session, not even setting a time.

Lando Norris on the other hand was out of shape going into the chicane at Turns 7 and 8.

Sainz brought out the the first Yellow flag of the weekend, then the first Red one as his SF-23 ground into a halt on track on the long straight, just meters before the pit entry.

The replay showed Sainz going over a bump before stopping, while after the Red flags marshals were on the track inspecting that section of the trac. The session was not resumed…

FP1 Results