Drain cover problem ‘very embarrassing’ and ‘slap in the face’ for F1

Martin Brundle says problems with manhole covers at the Las Vegas Grand Prix are “very embarrassing” and a “slap in the face” for F1. 
The Ferrari SF-23 of Carlos Sainz Jr (E
The Ferrari SF-23 of Carlos Sainz Jr (E

F1’s return to Las Vegas was thrown into chaos after first practice was cancelled after just eight minutes of running when Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz hit a manhole cover that had come loose. Esteban Ocon also suffered damage to his Alpine car by running over the cover. 

FP2 has been delayed while ongoing repairs are carried out, with F1 and the FIA planning to resume Friday’s track action at 10am UK time. 

“Unfortunately they've had a bit of a slap in the face to say the least and the Ferrari had more than a slap on its bodywork,” Brundle told Sky. 

“It’s very embarrassing,” he added. “It is a street circuit, it is the second-longest circuit on the calendar, a big old track. 

“It’s a problem we’ve had over the decades with covers coming up on, mostly street circuits it must be said, but also on more traditional race tracks like Kuala Lumper and China for example. So it’s a well-known problem. 

“I’m surprised that this kind of thing wasn’t sorted out beforehand. Obviously The Strip of Las Vegas has been resurfaced on the race track side and it seems as though these have been covered over but the suction underneath the cars, the downforce generating underfloors of these cars have drawn these pieces up and then other cars have come along.

“Fernando Alonso saw it and darted around it and then its literally ripped the bottom out of the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz parked behind all of those barriers there. 

“The chassis, the engine, the battery pack - a huge amount of damage to their car, which, unlesss they are given special dispensation, will mean he will also probably take grid penalties as well.”

Marshals repair a manhole cover after the first session was stopped. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Las Vegas Grand
Marshals repair a manhole cover after the first session was stopped…

Asked if there is a balance to be struck between commercial duties and ensuring safety, Brundle said: “I think there’s also entertaining the vast number of thousands of people who’ve turned up here today.

“They’ve got to establish how many of these need to be fixed, establish a fix, do it, let it dry and then somebody, especially in a country like America, is going to have to sign that off and say that’s acceptable, send the cars out there at 220mph and we think that’ll do. 

“Technically, somebody has got to go ‘that is an engineered solution we are prepared to put our names to and say that’s now safe to send the cars around there in terms of the cars, the drivers, the marshals, the fans and everybody involved. That’s a very big call for somebody.”

Brundle continued: “I guess they want to try and find a fix tonight and prove it ready for tomorrow. As soon as I saw it I thought ‘that’s going to take an age to get to the bottom of’. 

“To put something in, some kind of resin or concrete that’s fast-setting. I mean how fast is fast? It’s not exactly warm out here tonight. It felt to me like they should have gone ‘ok, we’ve got a fundamental problem here, let’s stop, fix it and we’ll run a lot more tomorrow’.” 

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