F1’s much anticipated romp around the streets of Vegas hit an early roadblock when the cars of Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon dislodged water valve covers, which damaged both of their chassis beyond repair and led to FP1 being abandoned after eight minutes.
After emergency fixes were applied to the 30 similar covers around the 6.2km street circuit, FP2 eventually shifted to 2:30am local time from its original midnight slot.
The session ran without incidents, but also without fans. Due to logistical and staffing restrictions all spectators were asked to leave the circuit from 1:30am onwards, meaning F1’s most expensive event of the year held its first full practice session in front of empty grandstands.
AlphaTauri’s Ricciardo said he felt sorry for the fans who spent their hard-earned money on tickets to only catch eight minutes of action, and admitted the much-delayed FP2 session initially didn’t feel worth it.
“Obviously, now that we’ve done a session, it feels more worth it. But at 1:30am didn’t feel worth it. Everyone was like let’s just do this tomorrow,” he said.
“I obviously don’t know the ins and outs with track availability and obviously it’s not a conventional circuit, so it’s not like we can just rock up here in the morning. I’m sure there are some limitations that we are a little bit at the mercy of.
“The grandstand situation, obviously that’s a bummer. But I guess if we didn’t do FP2, then it probably would have gotten scrapped, and we just would have gone into FP3.
“So, at least like this, maybe the fans got to the very least watch it on TV. We try to be positive. But yeah, it’s obviously a difficult situation.
“But I also don’t want to sh*t on the sport. It’s the first time here, it’s a massive project and things unfortunately happened, but I guess they did the best they could with what they had.”
Photo by: Motorsport Images
Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04
Ricciardo was alarmed by Sainz’s accident in FP1, which occurred on the fastest part of the track along the Strip and not only wrote off the Spaniard’s chassis and other critical car parts, but also damaged his seat.
The Australian felt concerns on whether or not the on-track product received the same level of care as the off-track extravaganza was a valid point of criticism.
“It’s fair question, I think,” he replied. “The biggest thing is safety. Fortunately, Carlos is okay but those things could be bigger with bigger consequences.
“I think it’s…