Formula One is hoping to turn its luck around on the Strip, like so many other Las Vegas visitors who blow a big bankroll on arrival.
The elite global motorsports series placed a $500 million gamble on a new event in Sin City promoted for the first time by F1 and owner Liberty Media. But it now must recover after an opening-night debacle in which the first practice was ruined just nine minutes in when Carlos Sainz Jr. ran over a water valve cover on the temporary street course.
“Judge us by what happens when the checkered flag falls on Saturday,” asked Williams team principal James Vowles.
When Sainz bottomed out on the drainage valve minutes into Thursday night’s first practice, it caused extensive damage to the underbody of his Ferrari and Sainz said the piece broke through far enough to damage his seat. F1 then closed the course to inspect the entire 3.85-mile (6.2 kilometer) circuit that utilizes a long portion of the Strip.
Those who spent who-knows-how-much got exactly nine minutes of practice Thursday night.
By the time the next practice started, 2 1/2 hours late at 2:30 a.m., those in attendance had been ordered to leave fan viewing areas. F1