LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — When Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari hit a water valve cover and put a halt to the free-practice session in Thursday’s kickoff to the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, spectators were left with one obvious question.
Only in Las Vegas, right? Turns out, no.
According to Formula 1’s YouTube channel, parts of driver George Russell’s blue and white race car can be seen and heard disintegrating when it drove over a loose drain cover at the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
“There was no way he could get out of that,” one announcer said. The other announcer tells viewers that Russell was headed back to the pit lane.
In what eventually became an unmitigated disaster, the practice session was canceled in its entirety because the crane that removed Russell’s race car from the track then hit the underside of a bridge, leaking oil all over the vehicle and the crane.
“This section is not going to be restarted,” the second announcer said. “I think we have lost FP one,” he said, referring to the free practice session.
Russell had to miss the subsequent practice session that weekend “as he was issued with a new chassis,” the racing publication Autosport reported Thursday.
In a much more dramatic video from 2017 in Malaysia, French F1 driver Romain Grosjean can be seen careening into a racetrack barrier after another losing a rear wheel and tire on a drain cover, according to the broadcast on Formula 1’s YouTube Channel. Grosjean can be seen shaking his head and heard discussing the incident with his pit crew.
“I lost a wheel,” Grosjean said to his crew over their radio communications system. That crash happened during that Grand Prix second practice session.
USA Today reported that Grosjean’s tire “shredded on impact, catapulting him at full speed from one side of the track to the other.” There were twenty minutes left in that practice session, USA Today reported. Grosjean was not harmed.
In the Las Vegas incident Thursday, Sainz’s car seemed to have significant front-end damage while F1 officials stood around the water valve in question.
A statement from race officials said, “Engineering teams are actively working to review and address the issue.” The statement says during the review, race organizers will honor all tickets and refreshments.