Daniel Ricciardo has questioned whether F1 “did their due diligence” as two cars were damaged by a loose manhole cover in Thursday’s opening practice for the Las Vegas GP.
Esteban Ocon and Carlos Sainz both required new chassis after the nine-minute-long FP1 on Thursday night after their cars were wrecked when the concrete frame around a manhole cover failed.
Such was the damage to Sainz’s Ferrari he’ll now take a 10-place grid penalty for Saturday night’s race as his SF-23 had to be fitted with multiple new power unit components as well as a new survival cell.
Daniel Ricciardo says Sainz’s incident could have had ‘bigger consequences’
The Spaniard confirmed even his seat was broken in the impact, the driver having “felt a big blow to my back and neck”in the accident.
That prompted not only the abandonment of FP1 but a two-and-a-half hour delay to the start of second practice as the FIA had to check every one of the 6.2km-long track’s manhole covers.
Ricciardo has questioned whether the FIA did “enough” to prioritise safety instead of focusing on lavish opening ceremonies.
“It’s a fair question,” the Honey Badger said when asked whether the event had taken priority over safety. “We’re like, yeah it’s a late day, but two cars got ruined.
“Along with that there is a financial thing there for the teams, which is a big issue for them, but then you brought up the biggest issue which is safety.
“So fortunately Carlos is okay, but those things could be greater – when I say greater I mean bigger consequences.
“I don’t know, I think it’s easy to say we did opening ceremonies and focused on other things and did they do their due diligence on the track? But with everything that happened today, you could ask some questions like did they do enough?
“That one for sure I can’t sidestep, that is a safety concern, and we’re here late but the safety one is something hopefully they will take pretty seriously.
“It [loose drain covers] happened in Monaco and Baku as well, it’s obviously a street circuit thing, but I feel like permanent circuits have certain criteria or whatever and a lot of boxes to tick and I feel like street circuits need a few more.
“It’s hard when it’s open to the public, but they obviously need to do that.”
A ‘bummer’ for the fans who stuck around
The delayed start to FP2 meant the few fans who had stuck it out to watch second practice were removed from the circuit, Formula 1 explaining it was a manpower issue.
The fans with single-day tickets were offered a $200 voucher to spend on race merchandise.
It did, however, mean the drivers covered the 90-minute FP2 session without any fans cheering them on.
“That’s a bummer, yeah,” Ricciardo said. “If we didn’t do the FP2 it would have probably just been scrapped and we would have gone into FP3, so at least like this, the fans got to watch it on TV. I’m trying to be positive!
“But it’s obviously a difficult situation and I don’t want to s*** on the sport, it’s the first time here, it’s a massive project and things unfortunately happened.
“I know no one wanted them to but I guess they did the best they could with what they had. I know it’s late and everyone is probably a little bit grumpy, but at least we got some running done.”