FIA and F1 working to get delayed Vegas FP2 underway at 2:15am local time
The FP2 session had been expected to get underway at midnight local time, but a message on the FIA’s timing system pages announced one hour before that point that second practice would be delayed.
Since the incident in FP1, when Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon suffered serious damage due to the water valve cover being worked loose as its concrete surround apparently failed under the stress of the ground-effect F1 cars going over it at top speed, the FIA has been urgently inspecting the rest of the manholes around the 3.9-mile track.
It is understood that there are around 30 water valves along the Strip that need to be inspected and worked on.
Just over an hour after FP1 had been abandoned, a joint statement from F1 and Las Vegas GP organisers included a line that stated they would “provide an update on the race schedule as soon as possible”, but the only official information released since that point has been the timing screen update announcing the delay to FP2.
In the gigantic Vegas paddock complex, rumours swirled that a possible announcement regarding the developing situation and its impact on the remainder of Friday’s running would be released at 11pm local time, but this came and went.
There had also been speculation that the event could resume with FP2 starting later than billed possibly lasting longer, but this remains unconfirmed.
But approaching 00.30, it was understood that the FIA and F1 officials were still working to get a 90-minute session in, which would commence at 2.00am. A further announcement followed, stating the session is set to start at 2.15am.
It is also understood that work was being conducted to fill in the water valves along the Vegas Strip with track surface materials that would allow the cars to run over them, without the surface breaking up.
At 00.45 am, it was confirmed on the FIA’s timing system that FP2 would indeed get going again.
The teams will remain greatly concerned about the state of the other water valves given Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur revealed in the team principals’ press conference that followed the FP1 session that really only lasted nine minutes of the scheduled 60 that the incident had “damaged completely the monocoque, the engine the battery” on Sainz’s car.
There has also been an inevitable impact on the fans that had arrived at the Vegas track expecting to see F1 cars running in the city for the first time in 41 years.
Autosport noticed stunned silence at the corners outside the huge Sphere entertainment venue when FP1 was first abandoned, with circuit commentators unable to inform the spectators why the session had been cancelled following the red flag that was initially called when Sainz stopped on track as a result of the damage.
There have since been reports that some fans chose to leave the venue after the FP1 cancellation.
The plan to shift FP2 to later on Thursday night also had to take into consideration that per the event’s schedule of road closures, the sections of public highway that have been closed to form the track are supposed to start reopening at 2am.
Local traffic is, however, only scheduled to be allowed back on the roads used by the circuit at 4am and the plan to get FP2 underway at 2am takes this into account as it would be considered a hard cutoff for when any running would have to conclude.
This has since been pushed back to 2.15am in order to complete the repair work.