In the aftermath of the Las Vegas GP, the saga of mishaps and misfortunes continues to unfold. Frederic Vasseur, Ferrari’s team boss, is at the center of a brewing storm, contemplating seeking compensation for an incident that significantly impacted Carlos Sainz’s race weekend and may have far-reaching financial repercussions for the team.
The controversy stems from a manhole cover incident that disrupted the opening day’s track action. This mishap not only caused the cancellation of track sessions but also led to the furious ejection of spectators from the venue. Compounding the issue, affected ticket-holders were offered a mere $200 voucher instead of a full refund, sparking a class-action lawsuit against race organisers and F1 owner Liberty Media. Renee Wilm, the Race CEO, and Stefano Domenicali, F1 chief executive, acknowledged the disappointment, stating, “We know this was disappointing. We hope our fans will understand based on the explanation that we had to balance many interests.”
The financial implications of the incident are staggering. The damage to Sainz’s Ferrari, including the race chassis, engine, battery, and gearbox, is estimated at around $1.5 million. This damage led to a ten-grid drop penalty for Sainz, adding to the team’s woes. Vasseur, expressing his frustration, said, “This will cost us a fortune.” The incident’s timing is particularly critical as it could affect Ferrari’s standing in the constructors’ championship, potentially costing them millions if Mercedes maintains its lead.
Vasseur’s anger is palpable. Describing the incident, he said, “The metal part slashed the entire car lengthwise.” He criticized the lack of timely communication about the hazard, stating, “There were yellow flags at the site, so there had to be a reason for it, but it wasn’t told to us. There would have been enough time to warn everyone.”
Ferrari now faces the challenge of rushing a replacement monocoque to Abu Dhabi for the 2023 finale. While Vasseur confirms they are still within the budget cap, the incident has undoubtedly strained their resources. “If something like this happens to us again, we’ll have to skip Abu Dhabi,” he half-joked, underscoring the severity of the situation.
Vasseur is considering seeking compensation for the financial blow, criticizing the event’s organization. “The guy who made the decision for the yellow flag saw something but then it took one minute for the red flag. You had metal parts sticking out, and the drivers are going 340kph,” he explained, highlighting the potential danger. His closing remarks reflect a deeper dissatisfaction: “This will be a private conversation that I will have with the organisers. Again, I’m more upset not because of the incident, but because of the organisation.”