Track problems mar early Las Vegas practice sessions

A loose drain cover on the track forced frustrating delays for Formula One drivers and fans attending early practice sessions for the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

The opening practice session Thursday night was red-flagged after just eight minutes after Spain’s Carlos Sainz drove over a cover that had become dislodged.

Emergency repairs to 30 drain covers around the 1.3 mile circuit on the Vegas Strip delayed the second practice session from its original midnight start time to 2:30 a.m. local time.

“After inspection by Formula 1 and the FIA, a single water valve cover on the Las Vegas Grand Prix circuit failed during the first practice session,” F1 and Las Vegas Grand Prix, Inc. said in a joint statement.

“The FIA, F1 and local circuit engineering teams are actively working to review and address the issue.”

The second session was completed without incident, but also without spectators, who were sent home after 1:30 a.m.

AlphaTauri driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia empathized with the fans who purchased tickets to the sessions.

“It’s the first time here, it’s a massive project and things unfortunately happened, but I guess they did the best they could with what they had,” Ricciardo said, per