Track repairs, Las Vegas Strip Circuit, 2023

Ricciardo calls for tougher safety checks at street tracks after Vegas disruption

Formula 1

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Daniel Ricciardo feels Formula 1 should demand more thorough preparation for street circuits after practice for the Las Vegas GP was disrupted.

The opening hour of practice on Thursday night was abandoned after just eight minutes of running when a loose water valve cover was struck at high speed by Carlos Sainz Jnr’s Ferrari along the Strip, leading to extensive repair work around the circuit. Esteban Ocon’s Alpine also suffered significant floor damage from the same hazard.

Second practice was delayed by two-and-a-half hours, to 2.30am local time, in order for repairs to take place around the track and inspections to be carried out.

Asked by RaceFans for his thoughts on whether the extensive efforts put into promoting the Las Vegas Grand Prix and the focus on entertainment surrounding the event had come at a cost of focus on the core issue of safety, Ricciardo said: “It’s a fair question.”

“Obviously two cars got ruined. And along with that, obviously there’s a financial thing there for the teams, which is a big issue for them.

“But you brought up the biggest thing, which is safety. Fortunately Carlos is okay, but those things could be greater. When I say ‘greater’, obviously ‘bigger’ and ‘bigger consequences’.

“I think it’s easy to say now ‘yeah, we did the opening ceremonies and we’re kind of focussed on other things’, but did they actually do their due diligence on the track?

“So with all that, what happened today, you could ask some questions, like, did they do enough? That one, for sure, I can’t sidestep that one – that is a safety concern. Us being here late, that’s fine, but I think the safety one is something hopefully they take pretty seriously.”

Ricciardo pointed out that cars being damaged by road fixtures on street circuits not being secured was something the sport has experienced at other street circuits over the years. He suggested the sport should ask more from organisers of grands prix held at temporary street circuits as it asks much from permanent race tracks.

“Obviously it’s happened in, I think, Monaco and Baku as well, so it’s obviously a street circuit thing,” Ricciardo said.

“I feel like permanent circuits have certain criteria or whatever and a lot of boxes to tick and I feel like street circuits need a few more. It just needs more care. It’s hard when I guess it’s open to the public, but they obviously need to do that.”

The Strip and the other public roads used as part of the racing circuit were re-opened to the public after second practice and will be closed again prior to Friday night’s final practice session and qualifying.

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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6 comments on “Ricciardo calls for tougher safety checks at street tracks after Vegas disruption”

  1. Its a fair statement but this idea that the track had problems because of the opening ceremony is bulls***p. The amount of work that has been done on the track has been immense and there are some things that will always be a bit on the blindside. They just have to make sure they use the learning from this to prevent loose drains being part of the blind side

    1. Most tracks don’t fail their first race-week inspection.

  2. Nonsense Daniel… You were so impressed by the “glamour” of LED lamps and those huge advertising billboards selling shampoo, streaming subscriptions etc., not to mention the gambling houses. It’s too late to be smart now, when your behind is on the line (literally). With absolute greed (even by modern corporate standards) comes cutting corners everywhere you can, so you can have the bigger show, have it faster, easier and louder. The time they should have used to test the track they used for show. Sainz did the testing for them, and almost paid the ultimate price for it.
    And all that for what? They kicked the fans out anyway lol. Thank you for your money, now off you go; get out of our grandstands! And do come back tomorrow for some more.

  3. Between this and hearing the FIA only checks some of the cars for legality after the race, one wonders what the FIA is getting paid for.

  4. Too right, Danny Ric.

    Formula 1 should be taking the big stick to the race promoter’s backside. This is going to require some contorsions.

  5. Coventry Climax
    18th November 2023, 8:33

    Tougher safety checks?
    All they actually had to do was follow the already proven playbook from Monaco and other (street-)circuits. If that gets snowed under because you have so many other things on your mind -which seems to be their excuse-, you have a management issue, not a safety issue.
    Reminds me of a snippet of 10cc lyrics: “..Communication is the problem to your answer..”.
    That song is called “The things we do for love.” But in F1 terms it would be “The things we skip for money”.

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