Drain cover collapse a new one for Masi

Michelle Foster
Algarve circuit drain cover

The broken drain cover at turn 14Algarve circuit drain cover is patched with concrete before the start of the delayed qualifying session. 24.10.2020. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 12, Portuguese Grand Prix, Portimao, Portugal, Qualifying Day. Photo credit should read: XPB/Press Association Images.

F1 race director Michael Masi says the cause of Saturday’s drain cover at the Portimao circuit was a new one for him.

Saturday’s final practice was red flagged with a minute on the clock when Sebastian Vettel drove over a drain cover at Turn 14, seeming to shatter it.

While part of the cover ended up on the track, another piece was sticking up out of the hole.

Marshals and track officials went around the Algarve circuit checking each and every cover, leading to a 30 minute delay to the start of the qualifying.

Masi says the problem was a new one for him.

“It wasn’t actually the drain cover per se, it was actually the concrete case underneath that collapsed,” Masi told Autosport.

“And then what we saw sticking up was the drain cover itself.

“As soon as it was noticed, FP3 was obviously suspended, it couldn’t continue, and a repair was undertaken to that area.

“Further checks were undertaken for a number of other drains at exactly the same point in time.

“It’s something we haven’t really seen before, a collapse of that nature. So we checked all the other drains with all of the officials around the circuit, that was the most efficient way to get that done.

“There were a couple of other cracks that were identified and repaired immediately.”

He added: “And obviously, where the drain itself was at the Turn 14 on the left-hand side, repair was undertaken with putting plastic pipe in and filling it with concrete, and then a quickset concrete on top of that, and trying to get that dry as quick as possible.

“So that meant a slight delay to qualifying. But in the circumstances, better to have that done and everything else checked.

“As soon as the last activity was completed today, further checks were undertaken around the entire circuit for all drains, just as a further precaution.”

Masi believes the high downforce generated by this year’s Formula 1 cars caused the cracks.

“I’d suggest so,” he said. “We probably don’t appreciate the forces that an F1 car generates.

“And it was certainly unforeseen, is probably the best way to put it, considering the circuit has had a significant number of upgrades done to it for this event, including the entire resurfacing of the circuit, as well as a number of safety barrier upgrades.

“And all of the drains were also checked at the same point in time.”

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