NOVEMBER 20, 2023

Ferrari may seek manhole cover damage compensation

Frederic Vasseur is not ruling out seeking compensation for the manhole cover incident that ruined Thursday's opening day of track action as well as Carlos Sainz's race weekend in Las Vegas.

Carlos Sainz, Las Vegas GP 2023
© Ferrari

Because the track sessions were scheduled so late into every evening, police had to usher furious spectators out of the venue ahead of a delayed second practice - and a class-action lawsuit against race organisers and F1 owner Liberty Media has already been filed.

That's in part because affected ticket-holders were offered only a $200 voucher for the official merchandise stores rather than a full refund.

Race CEO Renee Wilm and F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali had said after the incident: We know this was disappointing. We hope our fans will understand based on the explanation that we had to balance many interests.

The lawsuit filed in Nevada's district court alleges F1 and the Las Vegas GP made no effort to refund the tickets and the costs for other expenses like travel and food.

But the manhole saga could end up costing the race organisation even more than that, amid estimates that the damage to Sainz's Ferrari tipped the scales at a huge $1.5 million.

It may even ultimately cost Ferrari many more millions if Mercedes ultimately hangs onto its slim lead for second place in the lucrative constructors' championship.

This will cost us a fortune, team boss Vasseur declared.

The metal manhole cover wrote off not only Sainz's race chassis, but also the engine, battery and gearbox - resulting in a ten-grid grid drop for the furious Spaniard.

Frenchman Vasseur is also clearly furious.

The metal part slashed the entire car lengthwise, he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

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 warm everyone, the Ferrari team boss added.

The Italian team is now rushing a replacement monocoque to Abu Dhabi for this weekend's 2023 finale.

We are still within the budget (cap), Vasseur insists. "But the scope has become smaller due to the damage.

If something like this happens to us again, we'll have to skip Abu Dhabi, he half-joked.

Vasseur is not ruling out seeking compensation for the financial blow.

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 said.

This will be a private conversation that will have with the organisers, added Vasseur when asked about potential compensation.

Again, I'm more upset not because of the incident, but because of the organisation.