Race Weekend Central

Carlos Sainz Handed Grid Penalty After Las Vegas Manhole Cover Incident

Carlos Sainz was assessed a 10-place grid penalty after running over a loose manhole cover during the first practice session for the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix on Friday (Nov. 17).

The incident occurred after the Alpine of Esteban Ocon ran over the manhole cover, knocking it loose and leaving it in the path of Sainz, whose Ferrari was heavily damaged by the contact.

The incident eventually led to the session being abandoned after only eight minutes of its scheduled 60-minute runtime.

The penalty stems from the number of parts needing replaced on Sainz’s car, including the internal combustion engine (ICE) and control electronics (CE), which necessitated that the Spaniard’s team use their fifth ICE and third CE units of the season. This put the No. 55 team one unit over the allocated limit per driver for the season.

See also
Road to Las Vegas Grand Prix Raising Serious Questions

Sainz’s official website released a statement regarding his exploits on the day and addressing the penalty.

“I honestly cannot understand it and I think an exemption to the rule should have been considered given what happened,” the statement said. “But we’ll have to deal with it.”

The unusual circumstances leading to the repairs and subsequent penalty were addressed by the FIA stewards, who have been reported by Motorsport to have spent two hours trying to find a penalty-free solution to the situation. Ultimately, however, it was determined that the rules do not allow for considerations based on extenuating circumstances.

The second practice session was considerably delayed to allow track repairs to be made, which allowed Ferrari to complete necessary repairs on the No. 55 car and get their driver back on track for an extended FP2. Sainz finished the session second-fastest behind teammate Charles Leclerc and ahead of fellow countryman Fernando Alonso.

There will be one more practice session (FP3) for the weekend at 11:30 p.m. ET on Friday before qualifying gets underway at 3 a.m. ET on ESPN Saturday morning.

About the author

Alex is the IndyCar Content Director at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also serves as Managing Director of The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region which he co-founded in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.

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This is more than just an unfortunate start to the Vegas Grand Prix. It’s an embarrassment to the city and to F1 itself. I can’t imagine spending the money required to get to Vegas, get a hotel room, buy tickets (even at the continually falling prices for rooms and tickets) and then getting kicked out. F1 popularity is already in decline in America due to short attention spans. Buffoonery like what occurred overnight does absolutely nothing to help.


So a manhole cover came out so everyone involved is penalized so whoever job to make the track safe didn’t do their jobs so the two teams are penalized what a joke come on all forms of racing is seeing this because it not our fault we can’t do our jobs

Mike Kalasnik

…and this is one of many reasons why I can’t stand F1.


It would have been more interesting if it was Max who damaged his car from the manhole cover. I recall a similar occurrence many years earlier..

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