If you’ve missed any of the F1 news to come from Las Vegas – you have missed quite the day of action on and off track, so let’s catch you up.
FP1 ended after only eight minutes of running after Carlos Sainz dislodged a drain cover by driving over it, which led to a huge delay before FP2.
An extended FP2 session then occurred in the middle of the night in Las Vegas, but without fans in attendance – as we’ll explain.
F1 respond to fan confusion after grandstands emptied before FP2
Formula 1, who play the dual role of sporting body and race promoters in Las Vegas this weekend, announced before FP2 that all fan zones would be closed.
Given fans in the grandstands had waited hours for meaningful track action, some in attendance were understandably reluctant or outright reticent about leaving, though PlanetF1.com understands the maximum working hours for security staff contributed to this happening – meaning that if fans had stayed, there would have been a significant issue caused regarding security staffing.
“Given the lateness of the hour and logistical concerns regarding the safe movement of fans and employees out of the circuit, LVGP made the difficult decision to close the fan zones prior to the beginning of Free Practice 2,” a Formula 1 statement said.
“With a full round of practice successfully completed, LVGP looks forward to providing a safe and entertaining race weekend for all.”
Carlos Sainz cannot believe his 10-place grid penalty
Having driven over a manhole cover early in FP1, the suction from underneath Sainz’s Ferrari pulled it out of the ground and into his floor – with the concrete around it having failed.
This led to widespread repairs on Sainz’s Ferrari that required multiple new power unit parts, including an energy store beyond his pool for the season – but the stewards ruled he had to take the “mandatory penalty” that came with any changes.
This left Sainz furious after being given a 10-place grid penalty for something that was no fault of his own, as he explained.
“Unfortunately, as the session finished, the team communicated me that I was taking a 10-place grid penalty for something that I have no fault and the team has no fault,” he said.
“And obviously, this has changed completely my mindset and my opinion on the weekend and how the weekend is going to go from now on.
“You can obviously [understand] how disappointed and in disbelief I am with the situation and you will not see me very happy this weekend.”
Charles Leclerc fastest on track in FP2 in Las Vegas
When the cars did get going in Las Vegas, it was 2.30am when the full FP2 session was able to start – with it extended to 90 minutes to account for the lost time in FP1.
The huge track evolution left times improving by multiple seconds throughout free practice, and it was Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc who headed a Scuderia one-two come the end of the session.
All the more frustrating for Sainz given his car appears competitive this weekend, but with Leclerc looking on form from the off, there is still a long way to go for the other teams to catch up.
Max Verstappen not the biggest fan of Las Vegas track layout
Max Verstappen ranked in the lower reaches of the top 10 in practice, and while he has been a vocal critic of the histrionics leading up to the race weekend, he was somewhat concerned by the track layout as well.
Having already tried it out on the Formula 1 video game, his opinion of it has not improved in real life either.
“No, no,” Verstappen said after the session when asked if he enjoyed his session around Las Vegas, before adding: “I’ve had better tracks in my life.”
“I mean, I already said that yesterday, there’s nothing new that I discovered or whatever. But yeah, we just get on with it.”
Lewis Hamilton, on the other hand…
In contrast to his 2021 title rival, Lewis Hamilton said he had “so much fun” going around Las Vegas, stating he used the added down time to watch a film and relax – and he’s raring to go this weekend.
“It’s massively challenging,” he said when asked for his thoughts for the track itself.
“Even though they’ve got the long straights, there’s not really a lot of places to overtake because the grip is so low.
“And the tow is not huge, a bit like Monza when you’re behind people because you have the small wing, there’s not a lot of drag.
“So yeah, it’s going to be interesting. Qualifying, I think position will be really important, and then obviously degradation is going to be key, but I had a blast.
“Everyone’s struggling with jetlag and all that stuff and I feel really great. I just watched a movie in between the break, I feel great, I’m ready to go again.”