F1’s much-hyped event in Las Vegas got off to a nightmare start on Thursday evening when the opening free practice session was abandoned early on as the result of a loose manhole cover.
One of the loose drains on the main straight caused major damage to the cars of Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon when they hit it. It was also struck by Zhou Guanyu but his car escaped as serious an impact.
While the FIA conducts a detailed inspection of all the manhole covers around the track to better understand what work needs to be done to allow track action to resume, there are doubts about whether second practice can go ahead as planned.
Horner suggests that if things need to be shuffled around – either by delaying practice or changing the length of sessions – then it is important that teams show their support.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Horner said: “We’ve just got to be flexible. It’s a great shame for the fans that have come out to see the cars running but safety comes first. We’ve just got to get this right and hopefully, it won’t take too long.”
Asked what would happen if second practice could not go ahead, Horner said: “We’d have to extend the amount of running time in P3 or something like that. I think they’ll get it sorted. We’re here all night anyway! Why not [run] at two o’clock in the morning? Everyone in Europe can see it as well then! Extend tonight.”
Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, stops his car on circuit after damage from a manhole cover
Horner said initial analysis of Red Bull’s cars after the running in practice showed that they had escape any impact with the drain cover.
“We’re all good so far,” he said. “From what I’ve heard, I think one of the Alpines has picked up a bit of damage and, obviously, I had a quick chat with Fred [Vasseur] and the damage is quite significant on that Ferrari.”
While running was very limited in the first practice session, Horner said early impressions about the Las Vegas track surface confirmed fears about there being a general lack of grip – but it seemed to be rapidly improving.
“It’s not like Istanbul was where it was super slippery on the surface,” he added. “The surface actually, whilst fresh, the tyre temperatures were all coming up and everything was starting to behave quite well. It was just a shame the running got cut short because it was just starting to come in.