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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 16: Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff looks on in the Team Principals Press Conference during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Las Vegas at Las Vegas Strip Circuit on November 16, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Wolff defends Las Vegas GP amid FP1 incident criticism

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff vehemently rejected a reporter's assertion that the events of FP1 at the Las Vegas Grand Prix were a "black eye" for Formula 1

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During the team bosses’ press conference, a media representative labelled the incident as a “black eye” for Formula 1 as an evaluation of the track’s drains commenced. The Las Vegas Grand Prix, for which F1 acts as the promoter, carried a substantial cost exceeding $500 million. This expenditure encompassed various preparation costs, including the construction of F1’s largest pit building on the calendar and the acquisition of land in Las Vegas.

A detailed view of debris from the car of Carlos Sainz after he stopped on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Las Vegas (Image Credit: Chris Graythen – Getty Images)
The incident

He argued against excessive criticism for an incident that, while unfortunate for Carlos Sainz, was not unprecedented and should not overshadow the overall success of the event.

Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari came to a sudden halt on the Strip straight, with footage revealing significant damage caused by a concrete drain frame that had been dislodged, wreaking havoc on the underside of the car. Ferrari’s, Team Principle Frederic Vasseur commented the damage to the car would “cost a fortune”.

Alpines, Esteban Ocon also faced issues with the underside of his car.

“The car is broken, that’s really a shame,” Wolff commented on Ferrari’s incident. “For Carlos, it could have been dangerous. So between the FIA and the track and everybody needs to analyze how we can make sure that this is not happening again. But talking here about the black eye for the sport on a Thursday evening, nobody watches that in European time anyway!”

Toto troubled by comments

Wolff swiftly dismissed the characterization that the issues faced so far were a “black eye on the sport”, deeming it “completely ridiculous.” He insisted that the situation was not a severe setback, considering it was only FP1 on Thursday night. Wolff expressed his disbelief at criticizing an event that had set new standards for the sport, emphasizing the need to give credit to those who organized the Grand Prix and contributed to the sport’s expansion.

“It’s completely ridiculous,” Wolff commented. “Completely ridiculous, FP1, how can you even dare try to talk bad about an event that sets the new standards to everything? And then you’re speaking about a f***ing drain cover that’s been undone. That has happened before! That’s nothing, it’s FP1!

“That is not a black eye, this is nothing! We are Thursday night, and we have a free practice session one that we’re not doing, they’re going to seal the drain covers, and nobody’s going to talk about that tomorrow morning anymore.”

Dismissing the focus on the dislodged drain cover in FP1, Wolff passionately called for recognition of the efforts that went into organizing the Grand Prix and acknowledged the corporate liberty media efforts and commendable job in putting the event together.

“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 good about someone and written a good word? You should about all these people that have been out here. Liberty has done an awesome job and just because in FP1 a drain cover has become undone, we shouldn’t be moaning.”

Feature Image Credit: Dan Istitene – Getty Images

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