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Other SportsLas Vegas Grand Prix: Ferrari's Leclerc tops delayed practice on difficult opening...

Las Vegas Grand Prix: Ferrari’s Leclerc tops delayed practice on difficult opening night

Charles Leclerc topped a delayed Practice Two at the Las Vegas Grand Prix as Ferrari ended a difficult opening night at the event on a high note.

The opening practice session, which began at 8:30pm local time on Thursday, ran for less than nine minutes before Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz hit a damaged manhole cover, leading to a red flag and a full cancellation.

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur called the incident “unacceptable” as Sainz’s car suffered extensive damage to the chassis, engine and battery, and things got worse for the team thereafter.

The need to replace Sainz’s power unit energy store took him over the limit for penalty-free parts for that area this year, and despite Ferrari’s protestations, he will take a 10-place grid penalty into the race.

Practice Two finally began after fans were told to head home due to safety concerns on a problematic night for Formula One, with the extended 90-minute session not finishing until 4am local time on Friday morning.

When it did, Ferrari posted a one-two with Leclerc recording a 1:35.265 on the soft tyre, with Sainz in second and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso third.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the session, Leclerc said: “It looks good for now. I like the track, it’s fun to drive like all street tracks, but this one is a good one.

“We look quite strong for now. It’s difficult to understand exactly where we are in terms of race pace. We still have to work and try to take a step forward tomorrow, but it’s a good start.”

Others were less impressed with the track, which forms part of an estimated $500million investment in the Vegas event from F1’s owners Liberty Media. Asked whether he enjoyed the delayed practice after coming in sixth, world champion Max Verstappen said: “No.

“I’ve had better tracks in my life. I already said that on Thursday. There was nothing new that I discovered or whatever, so I just get on with it.”

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was back in ninth, and despite the delays, the seven-time world champion was full of praise for the circuit.

“It’s incredibly fast and a lot of fun,” Hamilton said. “I had so much fun today, I’m so glad we got to run again. Not a good FP1 but they did a good job to fix it.

“The car is okay. When we are all out on similar tyres we are not too far off. Everyone is having graining and people are running out of tyres, but everyone is in a similar boat.

“I had a blast. Everyone is struggling with jet lag and all that stuff and I feel great! I just watched a movie in between the break and I feel great, ready to go again.”

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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