F1 news outlets quickly reported on Carlos Sainz’s penalty after his unfortunate damage from FP1 at Las Vegas, but another issue frustrated the Spaniard.
Heading into the Vegas GP, Sainz was already the victim of misfortune. His SF-23 was damaged in the early stages of Free Practice after a drain cover was sucked from the ground and into the car. Extensive damage was suffered, with the team forced to change the chassis and battery.
Fred Vasseur was furious at the incident, criticising the track for a lack of preparedness. Despite being completely innocent in the incident, the Ferrari driver was given a 10-place grid penalty for changing the damaged component. To add insult to injury, the Italian outfit was not granted a financial exemption for the repair costs.
According to Vasseur, a few million were lost from the incident.
In any case, Carlos Sainz flagged another frustration in Las Vegas. In the build-up to the green lights going out, there was another concern amongst drivers and teams. During the driver’s parade, oil spilt from one of the classic cars. After marshalls cleaned up the spillage, one side of the track was compromised in terms of overall grip levels.
F1 News: Carlos Sainz unhappy with spillage
According to the Ferrari driver, this pre-race issue was responsible for the numerous Turn 1 incidents:
“It is not fair that all the oil was on the inside line. Apart from the dirty track already being there, we put cars on that are leaking oil on tack an hour before the race.
“Again, this is unacceptable. That probably cost us with the crashes into Turn 1.
“Yes, I hit the brakes. I had a lot of dust from the oil, and I just had no grip.
“I think Fernando also spun, [there were] drivers with a lot of experience finding just zero grip.”
In terms of the racing itself, F1 fans were generally satisfied with the action in Vegas. Leclerc and the Red Bull duo were in an intense battle for victory, with several teams fighting for position further down the order.
At least from this limited sample size, the circuit layout seems conducive to overtaking. All of this is overwhelmingly positive, but it doesn’t detract from the issues raised by Sainz and other drivers. The US venue was already heavily criticised for being prioritised over other historic tracks.
In the future, it will be imperative for F1 and circuit organisers to avoid these unforced errors in the 2024 edition.