Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were fastest in free practice for the Las Vegas Grand Prix on the new Las Vegas Strip circuit. On-track action finished at four in the morning local time, as a result of difficulties affecting the first of the two sessions. On Sunday, Sainz will now have to deal with a ten place grid penalty as the battery pack had to be changed on his car. This was a result of him hitting a loose manhole cover thrown up onto the track by the car ahead of him. It caused serious damage to the number 55 SF-23, which apart from the battery pack, also required a change of chassis, power unit and Control Electronics unit.
FP1. Before the session was stopped, Leclerc and Sainz had gone out on Soft tyres, completing four laps, the Monegasque having just set the quickest time with a not very meaningful 1’40”909.
FP2. Once Carlos’ car was back in the garage the team got to work, making the most of the two hour delay to the second session because of track inspection and repairs. The Spaniard was then able to get out on track at 2.30 as soon as the session, now extended to 90 minutes to make up for lost time, got underway. As always on a new track, the plan was to get in as many laps as possible to get to grips with the Las Vegas Strip and that was achieved with both drivers doing 39 laps each, totalling 78. The Scuderia drivers each used three sets of Soft tyres for qualifying simulation runs and one of Medium, when they took on a heavier fuel load to try the car in race trim. On the softest compound, Charles and Carlos set the two fastest times of 1’35”265 and 1’35”782, while also doing consistent pace runs when evaluating race pace.
Qualifying tomorrow. After the sessions, it was time for the briefings, with drivers and the rest of the team working through to dawn to prepare for qualifying which takes place today at midnight local time (9 on Saturday morning in Europe) and for the Grand Prix itself which gets underway at 22.00 on Saturday (7 CET on Sunday).
Charles Leclerc #16
It was a bit of a different day. With FP1 being stopped after just four laps, we didn’t get much mileage in, so we did our best to make up for it in FP2, with 90 minutes and 4 tyre compounds available to us. The session was productive, we put in a solid number of laps and I really enjoyed driving on this track. For now, we look quite competitive, but there is still a long way to go. We have a limited amount of time left to prepare for tomorrow, so we will work hard to keep this momentum.
Carlos Sainz #55
An eventful day for us after the problem in FP1 with the manhole cover. Our guys however did an amazing job. They basically had to rebuild the entire car ahead of FP2 and thanks to them we managed to complete our programme in the second session, so a big thank you to all the mechanics. We seem to be on the competitive side this weekend and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. On the negative side, we have been given a 10-place penalty for Sunday after the manhole cover damaged, amongst other things, my battery and we had to replace it. I honestly cannot understand it and I think an exemption to the rule should have been considered given what happened, but we’ll have to deal with it.