Las Vegas Grand Prix practice session canceled due to a manhole cover failure

Nov 17, 2023, 7:17 AM

Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-23 on track during practice ahead of the F1 G...

Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-23 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Las Vegas at Las Vegas Strip Circuit on November 17, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS (CNN) — The first practice session of Formula One’s Las Vegas Grand Prix was canceled less than 10 minutes after starting on Thursday night due to a loose drain cover.

Motorsport governing body FIA announced that a manhole cover failure was the reason for the stoppage, adding that it was working on inspecting all others which would “take some time.”

“Following inspection, it was the concrete frame around a manhole cover that has failed,” the FIA said, according to

“We now need to check all of the other manhole covers which will take some time – we will be discussing with the local circuit engineering team about the length of time it will take to resolve and will update with any resultant changes to the schedule.”

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was stopped out on the track on the Strip after appearing to run over the loose drain cover. The incident forced a red flag to be issued while the marshals removed Sainz’s Ferrari.

The practice session was eventually abandoned.

“What Carlos said was he hit something on track and he didn’t know exactly what it was,” Ferrari principal Frédéric Vasseur told reporters, according to Reuters. “We completely damaged the monocoque, engine and battery. It’s just unacceptable.”

However, other team officials played down the incident. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told reporters that “it’s happened before, it’s nothing,” while McLaren CEO Zak Brown said that he didn’t think “corners were cut.”

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, who finished fifth in the shortened session, was also impacted. The team announced that the Frenchman would undergo a chassis change “due to damage from a suspected drain cover on the track.”

The second practice session eventually got underway at 2:30 a.m. local time (5:30 a.m. Eastern Time). According to, Sainz has been handed a 10-place grid penalty for this weekend’s race after damage to his Ferrari forced him to get new power unit components.

One of the most highly-anticipated dates on this year’s motorsport calendar, this is the first time since 1982 that Las Vegas has hosted an F1 race.

The temporary, 3.8-mile street circuit will go along the famous Las Vegas Strip and a glitzy opening ceremony, which included performances from Kylie Minogue and John Legend, kicked off the event on Wednesday.

But the Grand Prix, for which F1 has invested more than half a billion dollars, has not been entirely well received.

On Wednesday, world champion Max Verstappen said that the race was “99% show, 1% sport,” adding that he “[doesn’t] like it at all.”

Meanwhile, residents have complained on social media and to local news outlets about steep prices, event-related traffic gridlock, barriers blocking public views of the Strip and their sense that the event is geared to high rollers but not to the average fan.

Nevertheless, Renee Wilm, the CEO of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, has told CNN that the event is “set to make history as one of the largest sporting events in Las Vegas, creating unparalleled economic benefits to Southern Nevada.”

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Las Vegas Grand Prix practice session canceled due to a manhole cover failure