Daniel Ricciardo has said it is fair to question whether Formula One’s due diligence over the safety of the Las Vegas track went far enough after Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari was wrecked by a loose drain cover in Friday’s opening practice session.
First practice lasted just eight minutes before the drain cover was lifted up by Sainz’s car as it ran over it, causing extensive damage to the underside of the Ferrari and shutting off its power unit.
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Esteban Ocon’s Alpine also hit the drain cover and needed a replacement chassis.
The rest of the opening session was cancelled while second practice was delayed by two and half hours and extended from 60 minutes to 90 minutes, meaning it finished at 4 A.M. local time.
Hype around the Las Vegas Grand Prix has reached an unprecedented level in recent weeks, culminating in a lavish opening ceremony on Wednesday.
Following Thursday’s practice session, Ricciardo was asked if F1 had prioritised the show over the safety of the sport.
“It’s a fair question,” he said. “We’re like, yeah it’s a late day, but two cars got ruined.
“Along with that there is a financial thing there for the teams, which is a big issue for them, but then you brought up the biggest issue which is safety.
“So fortunately Carlos is OK, but those things could be greater — when I say greater I mean bigger consequences. I don’t know, I think it’s easy to say we did opening ceremonies and focused on other things and did they do their due diligence on the track? But with everything that happened today, you could ask some questions like did they do enough?
“That one for sure I can’t side step, that is a safety concern, and we’re here late but the safety one is something hopefully they will take pretty seriously.
“It [loose drain covers] happened in Monaco and Baku as well, it’s obviously a street circuit thing, but I feel like permanent circuits have a certain criteria or whatever and a lot of boxes to tick and I feel like street circuits need a few more. It’s hard when it’s open to the public, but they obviously need to do that.”
Due to a lack of security staff working late into the night, fans were asked to leave the circuit an hour before the start of the delayed second session, meaning the cars circulated the track in front of empty grandstands.
“That’s a bummer, yeah,” Ricciardo added. “If we didn’t do the FP2 it would have probably just been scrapped and we would have gone into FP3, so at least like this the fans got to watch it on TV. I’m trying to be positive!
“But it’s obviously a difficult situation and I don’t want to s— on the sport, it’s the first time here, it’s a massive project and things unfortunately happened. I know no one wanted them to but I guess they did the best they could with what they had. I know it’s late and everyone is probably a little bit grumpy, but at least we got some running done.”