F1’s return to Las Vegas was thrown into chaos as the first practice session was cancelled after just eight minutes; second practice set to take place at 10am on Friday; qualifying on Saturday at 8am and the race on Sunday at 6am on Sky Sports F1 and Sky Showcase
Last Updated: 17/11/23 8:54am
Frederic Vasseur branded F1 as “unacceptable” after Carlos Sainz’s car was severely damaged in the opening Las Vegas Grand Prix practice session, but Toto Wolff defended the situation.
Sainz ran over a loose manhole cover just eight minutes into the session on the long straight before the flat-out final corner, which damaged his power unit, chassis and survival cell.
The red flag was called but Esteban Ocon also ran over the loose manhole cover on the way back into the pit lane. The FIA soon decided to call off the session and Practice Two was delayed as the sport’s governing body confirmed “the concrete frame around a manhole cover failed”.
FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer referred both Sainz and Ocon’s car to the stewards as a result of significant changes due to the “impact with a foreign object”.
“What Carlos said was he hit something on track and didn’t know exactly what it was. We completely damaged the monocoque, engine and battery. It’s just unacceptable,” said Vasseur.
The Ferrari team principal was then asked about the Las Vegas event as a whole but was not in a mood to talk in the press conference.
He responded: “We f***** up the session for Carlos and he won’t be part of FP2, that’s for sure, because we have to change the chassis and set up the car. The show is the show and everything is going well but it’s unacceptable for F1 today.”
Toto Wolff was sat next to Vasseur and made an inaudible comment to Vasseur, which the Ferrari boss replied: “Toto you would be upset in my situation!”
Several high-profile musicians performed amid spectacular light, drone and firework displays that have taken place this week in Las Vegas in the build-up to one of the most eagerly anticipated events this century.
Later on, Vasseur did comment on the show around F1’s return to Las Vegas, after two races in 1981 and 1982, making it clear that what happens on and off the track don’t impact each other.
“You don’t have to mix everything. I think that the show is mega and I’m very happy with what Liberty did around the event, and I think it’s a huge step forward for the fans,” he said.
“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. I think it was something bigger for the F1.
“But it’s not because you are doing this that you don’t have to do the job on the sporting side. I don’t want to mix the racing and say they did s*** on the sporting side because they did a show. They are two separate things.”
Wolff hits out at Las Vegas criticism
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff offered an impassioned defence of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, which is the first event that the owners of F1 commercial rights, Liberty Media, has organised and promoted itself.
Wolff, who believes Liberty have done a “phenomenal job” with Vegas, reacted angrily to being asked whether the event had been “a black eye” for F1.
“That is not a black eye, this is nothing. We are Thursday night, we have a free practice session one that we’re not doing,” said Wolff.
“They’re going to seal the drain covers, and nobody’s going to talk about that tomorrow morning anymore. It’s completely ridiculous, completely ridiculous. FP1 – how can you even dare trying to talk bad about the event that sets the new standards, new standards to everything.
“And then you’re speaking about a drain cover that’s been undone. That has happened before, that’s nothing. It’s FP1. Give credit to the people that have set up this Grand Prix, that have made this 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 and 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 is not happening again.
“But talking here about the black eye for the sport on a Thursday evening, nobody watches that in European time anyway.”
When to watch the Las Vegas GP live on Sky Sports
Saturday November 18
- 4:15am: Las Vegas GP Practice Three (session starts at 4.30am)
- 7am: Las Vegas Grand Prix Qualifying build-up (also on Sky Showcase)
- 8am: Las Vegas GP Qualifying (also on Sky Showcase)
- 10am: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook
Sunday November 19
- 4:30am: Grand Prix Sunday: Las Vegas GP build-up (also on Sky Showcase)
- 6am: THE LAS VEGAS GRAND PRIX (also on Sky Showcase)
- 8am: Chequered Flag: Las Vegas GP reaction (also on Sky Showcase)
- 9am: Ted’s Notebook (also on Sky Showcase)
Get ready for the big one: Formula 1 in Las Vegas! See drivers race down the Strip, and past landmarks like Caesars Palace and the Bellagio, on F1’s newest street track. Watch the Las Vegas GP weekend live on Sky Sports F1 and Sky Showcase, with lights out on Sunday at 6am. Stream F1 on Sky Sports with NOW