This year’s Formula 1’s races are being held once again in a massively anticipated fashion in Las Vegas. The race was set to open soon, with practice rounds starting Thursday evening. Viewers flooded the streets to catch a glimpse of the early start of the races, only to have them cut short very abruptly. The cause? A drain cover not being properly installed in one segment of the road.
This race has garnered a lot of excitement from American and international Formula 1 fans alike. It was especially significant to many as this was the first time the race was going to be held in Las Vegas since 1982. The 41-year gap has led the city to stating that this race would be bigger and better than ever, working on construction of the race path and viewing stands for months. However, just eight minutes into the first practice race, all that hard work came to a disappointing stop.
Carlos Sainz’s car was the unfortunate victim that made the discovery of the broken drain cover.
Sainz’s Ferrari drove over the broken drain cover, causing significant damage to the vehicle. The drain was located in on the main track. After the incident, a red flag was thrown to alert game authorities. Subsequently after the red flag had been thrown, Ocon’s Alpine suffered damage because it was trailing behind Sainz and hit debris that was still on the track from Sainz’s accident.
After these two accidents, there was an 11-minute silence before the practice round was finally cancelled. The second practice round, which was scheduled to happen early this morning, was pushed back two hours to 10 a.m. The length of the practice was also extended, as it went from one hour to 90 minutes.
Due to the notoriety of the event, the FBI investigated the incident.
Following their investigation, the FBI released a statement stating the concrete frame around the drain cover is what ultimately failed and broke. The delays in the other races are due to the race authorities and the FBI checking every other cover on the track to confirm they are safe and ready to be driven on.
Ferrari’s team president confirmed Sainz’s monocoque, engine, and battery were damaged in the accident. Alpine confirmed Ocon’s chassis was in his subsequent accident. The accidents were called “unacceptable,” but are actually not the first of their type in F1 history. In 2019, another racer had the same accident in which he drove over a damaged drain cover.
How this will continue to affect the race’s schedule is currently unclear.