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Ferrari out of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix? ‘Private’ talks begin for damage compensation

Scuderia Ferrari will hold talks with race organisers to discuss compensation for damage to Sainz' car

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Ferrari Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur has revealed that his team will hold discussions with Las Vegas Grand Prix stakeholders to get money back for repairs to Carlos Sainz Jr.’s SF23, fearing a no-show at the upcoming Abu Dhabi round.

Fred Vasseur admits Ferrari "made a mistake" with Leclerc strategy -
Ferrari Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur was critical of the entire Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend (Image Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office)

Free Practice One was the first bit of on-track action for the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix. Unfortunately, it only lasted eight minutes or so as Scuderia Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. ground to a halt on the temporary street circuit.

It turned out a loose drain cover had been pulled up as Sainz’ SF23 drove over it at near 200 mph (~320 kph), causing extensive damage to the underside and necessitating costly repairs for the Italian outfit.

Speaking to media, Vasseur shed a light on the scale of damage caused by the unsecured manhole cover. He said: “The loom was damaged, the gearbox was damaged, the battery was damaged, the engine is dead.”

Considering the destruction was a result of the track itself as supposed to human error, Ferrari are seeking compensation for the repair costs to Sainz’ car. The team have revealed that they will hold talks with Las Vegas Grand Prix organisers to reach some sort of agreement.

Vasseur continued: “This will be a private discussion that I will have with the stakeholders of this event.”

“There is no provision into the budget or cost cap, for excluding the crashes. For sure you have a lot of extra costs… We have a lot of consequences on the financial side, on the sporting side, and even on the stock of spare parts, and on the budget side for sure it’s not an easy one.”

The Ferrari boss says that there is a risk they may have to miss the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to stay on the right side of the cost cap budget.

He added:

“It’s true also that if we have to adjust the budget cap, our whole cost, at least between now and the end of the season, we don’t have so much room to play with, or we miss Abu Dhabi.”

More misery for Vasseur and the Ferrari team
Sainz Jr. recovered from 12th on the starting grid to finish the 50-lap race in sixth position (Image Credit: @Carlossainz55 on X)

The Scuderia were hit with another blow before the race even began, as Sainz was handed a ten-place grid penalty for exceeding replacement parts allocations.

Vasseur, who had already criticised race organisers for allowing the loose drain cover to pass safety checks, piled yet more condemnation on the stakeholders for the undeserved penalty.

He said: “I think it was not a very fair decision due to the circumstance. I think that it was very harsh for Carlos, very harsh for the team.”

“Considering that we miss FP1, that we had a couple of millions of damage, that we had the mechanics worked like hell to come back. And so I think it was not too stupid to consider the case of force majeure.”

Nevertheless, the race proved exciting for both spectators and drivers alike. 2023 Drivers’ Champion Max Verstappen stormed to an 18th win of the season and was full of praise afterwards, despite previously expressing disapproval about the track layout and over-the-top fanfare.

Feature Image Credit: AP

  1. Had the damage been as a result of an error by the team, then that should be down to them. As it was an error relating to the the track layout and poor preparation, the Ferrari team should be compensated. I’m a Merc supporter, but Ferrari should not been penalised so heavily for something outside of their control.

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