Toto Wolff launches furious defence of F1 after absurd start to Las Vegas GP

Toto Wolff furiously declared the drain cover incident which cancelled first practice at the Las Vegas Grand Prix as “nothing” in a passionate defence of Formula 1.

F1’s return to Vegas for the first time in 41 years started in farcical fashion on Thursday night when FP1 was cancelled after just eight minutes.

Carlos Sainz sustained significant damage to his Ferrari car after driving over the loose cover at over 200mph, with team boss Fred Vasseur raging afterwards.

Asked whether the session cancellation was a “black eye” for the sport, Wolff was stern in his response.

“That is not a black eye, this is nothing,” the Mercedes boss said.

“It is a Thursday night. We have a free practice 1 that we’re not doing, they’re going to seal the drain covers. Nobody is going to talk about that tomorrow morning.”

Yet when prompted by a journalist saying it’s “absolutely rubbish”, Wolff erupted in the team principals’ press conference.

“It’s completely ridiculous,” he said. “How can you even dare talk bad about an event that sets the new standards to everything?

“And then you’re speaking about a f****** drain cover that’s come undone, that’s nothing. It’s FP1, give credit to the people that have set up this grand prix. That have made this sport much bigger than it ever was.

“Have you ever spoken about someone or written a good word? You should about all these people that have been out here. Liberty [F1 owners] have done an awesome job and just because in FP1 a drain cover has come undone we shouldn’t be moaning.

“The car is broken. That’s really a shame, for Carlos it could have been dangerous. Between the FIA and the track we need to analyse to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

“But talking here about a black eye for the sport on a Thursday evening? Nobody watches that in European time anyway!”

The FIA confirmed that second practice, due to start at midnight local time, has been delayed to 2am (10am GMT) as they double-check the remaining manhole covers on the 3.8-mile street circuit.


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