Leclerc fastest in shortened FP1 at F1 Las Vegas GP as drain cover destroys cars

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On F1’s return to Las Vegas, a 1:44.019 from Charles Leclerc on the soft put him over a second clear of Verstappen after the 5-minute mark. He lowered that to a 1:40.909 to be fastest overall.

Photo credit: Scuderia Ferrari

A red flag was thrown before the 10-minute mark as Carlos Sainz stopped on track on the long straight heading down to turn 14. The Spaniard hit a loose drain cover very hard and the floor was damaged. A message on the steering wheel told him to ‘stop the car, engine off’.

Leclerc led Hülkenberg, Magnussen, Verstappen, Ocon, Russell, Sainz, Tsunoda, Pérez and Bottas.

After just 20 minutes, the session was cancelled due to track conditions.

Gasly, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Zhou and Norris completed the order of drivers who set a time.

The FIA stated “we are currently looking at an issue with a drain cover, which is the reason for the current delay.”

They then added: “We’re not going to resume as it’s going to take time to understand the issue and take any necessary actions to remedy.”

Alpine confirmed Esteban Ocon needed a chassis change because of damage caused by that drain cover. The Frenchman had hit it at lower speed but badly damaged his car.

“We will change the chassis on Car #31 due to damage from a suspected drain cover on track.”

Another statement from the FIA confirmed that “following inspection, it was the concrete frame around a manhole cover that has failed. We now need to check all of the other manhole covers which will take some time.”