Saturday December 9, 2023

Formula 1 Construction Infuriated Locals. Now The Track Is Worrying Drivers.

  • The Las Vegas Grand Prix is dealing with issues after initial practice sessions.
  • Track safety is becoming a concern after a major incident on Night 1.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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As the Las Vegas Grand Prix prepares for Friday night’s qualifying event, track safety has become a major concern.

In the leadup to Formula 1’s return to Las Vegas, major construction on and around the Strip — which was repaved to meet racing regulations — inconvenienced locals for months.

Now, following an early end to the opening practice session on Thursday night and delay of the second practice due to a loose drain cover, drivers are speaking up about their dissatisfaction with the 3.8-mile track along the Vegas Strip.

“Did they do enough? That one, for sure, I can’t sidestep, that is a safety concern,” Alpha Tauri driver Daniel Ricciardo said in reaction to Thursday night’s mishap. Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz sustained damage to his car, which sparked the cancellation, but no other incidents occurred during the practice.

“It’s obviously a difficult situation, and I don’t want to s–t on the sport — it’s the first time here, it’s a massive project, and things unfortunately happened,” Ricciardo added. 

Sainz is receiving a 10-place grid penalty for Saturday night’s race because the damage means he’ll move to his third energy storage system of the season — and drivers are allowed only two. “This has changed completely my mindset and my opinion on the weekend,” he said.

“I’m frustrated,” Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur added. “I’m also scared because Carlos hit a metallic part at 320 kph, and it could have been much worse.”

A third and final practice session is scheduled for Friday night at 8:30 p.m. PT before qualifying at midnight.

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