Drain cover inspection, Bahrain, 2024

F1 testing hit by second stoppage due to broken drain cover

Formula 1

Posted on

| Written by

Formula 1 testing has been halted for the second time in as many days due to a broken drain cover at the Bahrain International Circuit.

The final day of pre-season running was halted half an hour after it began as the debris appeared on the approach to turn 11, a high-speed left-hand turn.

The same stretch of track was the scene of a similar problem less than 24 hours earlier (pictured) which also brought testing to a stop. Thursday’s early session was cut short by more than hour for track repairs after Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton ran over a loose drain cover.

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez appeared to dislodge a drain cover on the same stretch of kerbing at turn 11 when he took a wide line into the left-hand corner on Friday. The session was red-flagged moments later.

During the stoppage Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey inspected the floor of Perez’s RB20 for damage. Ferrari replaced the floor on Leclerc’s car yesterday after a drain cover punched a hole in it.

FIA F1 race director Niels Wittich visited the scene of the incident to observe the ongoing repair work. Track workers are attempting to weld the covers into place to prevent them being pulled up again. The FIA have not indicated when the session will be resumed.

In the meantime several drivers are missing their final opportunities to test before the new season begins at the track next week. All bar one of the teams intend to run both drivers today, swapping between them at lunch time.

All 10 drivers participating in the early session had completed at least an installation lap when it was stopped. Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jnr was the early pace setter, posting a 1’31.247 on C4 tyres and completed 11 laps over the opening 30 minutes.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Formula 1

Browse all Formula 1 articles

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

34 comments on “F1 testing hit by second stoppage due to broken drain cover”

  1. It’s okay, these things happen, it’s normal… They would have you believe.

    1. This morning I clicked onto a live feed to see what was happening in testing and when it said they’d stopped due to a drain cover I assumed I was looking at the wrong story, that this was the one from a couple of days ago. Shambles. But can you imagine how bad it would have been if they hadn’t held the test sessions here, if they’d all rocked up next week and had first the qualifiying disrupted due to a drain cover, and then the race red flagged because of another bodged fix? Or am I just being too optimistic thinking that scenario has been avoided?

    2. Yeah, surely it makes sense that after the first one got undone, nobody seems to have bothered to properly check the other ones.

      To think that the Bahrain crew has often been sent to new venues to help them get going with marshalling, this really is a super minor incident, isn’t it.

  2. Farcical.

  3. Can’t they extend running later on in the day to make up for this lost time?
    I know they’ve extended testing hours before due to something (I can’t remember what though), so surely this is as good a reason to as any!

    1. It looks like that’s the plan but nothing confirmed yet.

  4. Seriously, such an issue occurring once wasn’t enough in the end.

  5. In very rough figures just to compete without “drivers licence”, this year
    Red Bull pay approx ,$7.5 mill
    Merc $3.3 mill
    Ferrari $3.3 mill
    McLaren $2.6 mill
    Aston Martin $2.5 mill
    Alpine $1.4 mill
    Williams $800k
    Visa $800k
    Stake $700k
    Haas $700k

    and they’re served up this recurring nightmare!

    Not good enough.

    Safety ??? just mind-blowing.

    1. These figures are nothing compared to the appearance payments and prize money they get every year.

  6. I was highly sceptical of yesterday’s “boot it in place” tactic. The strategic fix appears to involve a screwdriver being hit with a hammer. I honestly can’t believe we have 2 of the 3 test days impacted by the same issue. Following on from Vegas, where concessions should be made, it’s simply unacceptable to lose the limited testing time to a basic kerbing issue.

    3 questions from me: will they totally replace all kerbs by next week? Will they enforce a farcical track limits rule in the hope that works? How many other circuits could be impacted if this is related to underfloor pressure increases?

  7. Question:
    Which will be the higher number this season?
    A) Official sessions red flagged for drain related incidents.
    B) Championship points scored by Logan Sargeant.

    1. @eurobrun
      That seems like an easy bet
      Still like it though

      1. The latter

    2. Obviously the answer is A, sargeant will not score a single point and we’re likely to get more of these incidents.

  8. This is not a black eye for the sport, this is nothing. It’s testing – nobody watches it anyway. How can you even dare to talk bad about this event? Also, one more thing. I’m not mad. Please don’t write in the newspaper that I got mad.

  9. Coventry Climax
    23rd February 2024, 9:56

    Failing miserably, three times in a row, with the same, root cause.
    Consistently unable to predict the impact of their own rules regarding tracks and car forces. (Or tyres, for that matter.)
    Consistently incapable of implementing efficient and effective, even if wildly overdimensioned, precautionary measures – like normal people would do if they didn’t know the why and how, but still understood it was very dagerous.

    Imagine you failing like that in your work environment.
    Imagine your company failing like that in their contractual obligations.

    You’d be out next day.

    So, mr. Sulayem, what’s your plan regarding all of this?

    1. Imagine you failing like that in your work environment. Imagine your company failing like that in their contractual obligations.

      It happens a lot on this scale, and much, much bigger.
      In the grand scheme of things this really isn’t very big deal. It’s not desirable obviously – but it isn’t going to result in the deaths of thousands, hundreds or even dozens of people. Almost certainly not even one.
      Bit of perspective… No need to over-dramatise it.

      So, mr. Sulayem, what’s your plan regarding all of this?

      This has nothing to do with him. Literally nothing at all.
      Both the FIA and circuit have other people to take care of it.

    2. They’re just testing the viability of introducing exploding mushrooms to spice up the show :)

      1. Aha, that’s a good one!

  10. Still driving off the track, I see…
    Didn’t learn much from yesterday, then.

  11. I dare say with racing cars having greater and greater down force and more ground effect tracks will need to start looking at ways of creating stronger drain covers or finding different locations for them. Perhaps different, slightly higher curb designs that discourage drivers going too far up them with drains behind them.

    1. Coventry Climax
      23rd February 2024, 11:37

      And the FiA should have foreseen it and taken precautions. That’s their self proclaimed safety first job description ffs.
      Writing rules and taking measures without knowing the impact? And then when the impact is made abundantly clear on the first occasion, . . up two times more?
      Any bonobo would do better. With way less funding.
      ‘We shouldn’t be talking possible solutions here at all; they should have been implemented already.

  12. not amateurish at all

  13. So long as nobody says the oversized, overweight, overspecced cars are the problem it’s all good. Blame the tracks, blame the rain, blame Pirelli…

    How long before we see the first 1000kg F1 car?

    1. Reasonably sure that faulty drainage at the track is not the fault of the cars.

      1. Pretty sure that these particular cars running over it caused it to fail….

      2. @standbyexp It seems like it’s the increased levels of suction been created by the ground effect of the cars that causing the issues so it is in a way the new generation of cars that are causing the problems.

        The drain covers are the same as they have been for 20 years & are held down in the same way as is the case on every circuit & it’s a design that has for the most part held up perfectly well for many years with many different categories of cars.

    2. @ MichaelIN
      A Mr. A . Newey is quoted elsewhere as saying the problem is the cars are too big and too heavy.
      Perhaps too much consistent “heavy duty” punishment?

  14. Bring testing back to Barcelona. At least fans stood a chance of being able to attend at Catalunya. Bahrain testing is just more middle-east posturing and serves no useful purpose.

    1. The weather is more predictable in Bahrain; it’s not unknown for Catalunya to be cold and wet in the spring. As for testing in Bahrain serving no useful purpose, surely it achieves exactly the same outcomes as testing anywhere would, and with more certainty (apart from drain covers maybe)?

      1. The weather is more predictable

        So are the draincovers…
        Not sure if thats a good thing.

  15. How about having the rules state that the track or race organizers must insure that those covers are affixed PROPERLY so they don’t come loose. Is that to much to ask?

Comments are closed.