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drain f1 las vegas covere sainz ferrari hit

Vasseur and Wolff angry after Las Vegas F1 practice drama

drain f1 las vegas covere sainz ferrari hit

For very different reasons, Ferrari Formula 1 team principal Fred Vassuer and his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff reacted angrily during the drama and anxiety-packed opening day of the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix.

With FP1 stopped after less than ten minutes, and FP2 delayed later in the day, extended by 30-minutes to 90 so as to make up for valuable lost time on the all-new street track that runs through Las Vegas’ fabled strip.

But the streets did not play ball, as a drain cover popped out to see what all the fuss was about, only to cause extensive damage to the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz when he drove over it. Ditto Esteban Ocon who reportedly did similar damage to his Alpine.

The FIA F1 Stewards added insult to injury by slapping a ten-place grid drop for the Spaniard, for an incident that was out of his and his team’s control. In fact, it would have not happened if the FIA track inspection had picked up the drain covers as potential show-breakers. Which they nearly were.

Ferrari could ask the FIA and F1: How was this missed? When speaking to reporters in Las Vegas after the FP1 was abandoned, Vasseur was not a happy boss: “Carlos hit something on track and he didn’t know exactly what it was. The situation is that we damaged completely the monocoque, the engine and the battery. I think it’s just unacceptable.

Vasseur: They did shit on the sporting side because they did the show

For very different reasons, Ferrari Formula 1 team principal Fred Vassuer and his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff reacted angrily during the drama and anxiety-packed opening day of the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Asked to”look at the bigger picture” Vasseur retorted: “This one is a good one, I don’t need to have a bigger picture than this one. I’m not sure that is the topic for me today. We had a very tough FP1. This will cost us a fortune.

“We fucked-up the session for Carlos. We have to change the chassis out of the car, to set up the car. OK, the show is the show and everything is going well but I think it’s just unacceptable for the F1 today,” explained Vasseur

At which point, seated in the press conference along with McLaren’s Zak Brown and James Vowles of Williams, Wolff said: Toto “You’re putting yourself in more trouble…”

After telling his Mercedes counterpart that he would be upset too if it happened to him, Vasseur added: “I think that the show is mega and I’m very happy with what Liberty did around the race and I think it’s a huge step forward for F1 and we have to separate what is the show and the sporting side.

“The show is mega. I was in the Paddock Club yesterday when they did the ceremony and it was something that I never saw before, perhaps in Magny Cours in 2008. But no, seriously, I think it was something mega for Formula 1.

“But it’s not because you are doing this that you are, that you don’t have to do the job on the sporting side and so on. I think it’s two separate things. And I don’t want to mix everything and say that, sorry for the expression, but they did shit on the sporting side because they did the show. It’s not true.

“You can do the show and do a good job on the sporting side. It’s two separate things,” declared Vasseur before adding: This happened in Monaco couple of years ago. I remember Baku 2019. I remember that we had a couple of occasions like this.”

Vasseur: For sure I’m frustrated

Las Vegas GP: First practice cancelled after broken manhole cover damages car of Carlos Sainz | F1 Vasseur: For sure I'm frustrated

“But again, I was already convinced before FP1 that the event was mega for F1 and I’m still convinced of that and we have to continue in this direction. I remember also at Zandvoort, when they started to have the music into the grandstand, everybody had to copy them the race after, and I think probably we will do a step forward in the right direction, from Vegas.

“And everybody perhaps won’t be at the same standard but we’ll go in this direction in terms of show and entertainment and so on. But we have to take care of the sporting side. It’s a completely different story. And it’s not because you are doing a show that you know what I mean…

“For sure I’m frustrated. I’m also scared because Carlos hit a metallic part at 320 kph and it could have been much worse,” said Vassuer, who told reporters his team would investigate further before seeking damages for the incident.

During the session, the floor was asked if the drain cover incident was “a black-eye for F1” which triggered Wolff’s wrath:  “That is not a black eye. This is nothing. We are Thursday night, we have a Free Practice 1 session that we’re not doing. They’re going to seal the drain covers and nobody’s going to talk about that anymore…”

But Wolff was not finished as he could not control his disdain for the reporter’s question, he went on: “It’s completely ridiculous, completely ridiculous! FP1, how can you even dare try to talk bad about an event that sets new standards, new standards to everything? And then you’re speaking about a fucking drain cover that’s been undone, that has happened before. That’s nothing. It’s FP1.

Wolff: Give credit to the people that have set up this Grand Prix

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 16: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Las Vegas at Las Vegas Strip Circuit on November 16, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The Mercedes Boss continued: “They have made the sport much bigger than it ever was. Have you ever spoken good about someone and written a good word? You should about all these people that have been out here. Liberty has done an awesome job.”

“Just because in FP1 a drain cover has become undone, we shouldn’t be moaning. The car is broken, that’s really a shame. For Carlos, it could have been dangerous, so between the FIA and the track, everybody needs to analyse how we can make sure that this does not happen again.

“But talking here about a black eye for the sport on a Thursday evening. Nobody watches that in European time anyway,” added Wolff with scant regard for those who do.

Vowles was the voice of reason for the day: “Yes, we have problems, and what happened in FP1 is incredibly disappointing. I’m incredibly sorry for both Ferrari and Alpine that have suffered damage as a result of it. If it had been us, I think that would have affected the Championship quite significantly.

“But we will get on top of it and we will get the show back on the road as a result of where we are and how important this is. Judge us by what happens when the chequered flag falls on Saturday, rather than what’s just happened in the last half an hour,” added Vowles in what should be music to Liberty Media ears.