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F1 Drivers Call For More Checks After Drain Cover Incidents

  • 3 min read

Triple world champion Max Verstappen said more checks were needed after Formula One’s pre-season testing in Bahrain was halted for the second day in a row on Friday by a dislodged drain cover.

The two separate incidents revived memories of an incident that caused considerable and costly damage to Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari at last November’s inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Verstappen, chasing a fourth successive championship this season, feared the current high-downforce cars were making such incidents more likely with the suction of their aerodynamics.

“With the ground-effect cars probably it’s a little bit worse but also it seems like we’re driving in places that not a lot of other cars are going in terms of opening up corners,” said the Dutch driver.

“Maybe these kind of things can be checked a bit more. We know that this is a potential problem with these cars and when you go to certain tracks you know where the drain covers are.

“So I guess before you start driving at the weekend to double-check that everything is solid is a must for the upcoming tracks, (so) that we don’t have another situation where cars get destroyed.

“Especially with a budget cap in place as well it’s not nice when these things happen.”

Sainz’s Ferrari’s survival cell, engine, energy store and control electronics were all damaged beyond repair in the Las Vegas incident, with the team still waiting on an insurance claim.

The cost of such an incident can be a significant blow with teams operating under a budget cap and tight financial constraints.

“It’s a serious issue because it can have big consequences and we have to look into it for the future, for it to not happen again,” said Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc on Friday.

“Yesterday we were quite lucky that it didn’t happen in a place and a situation similar to Vegas. In Vegas it was quite serious for Carlos but I’m sure everybody is on it and working on finding the best solution for that.”

Mercedes’ seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton agreed the stoppages were “obviously a concern” and hoped the governing FIA was taking action.

“Probably need to be welding these things down well in advance of us getting there,” said the Briton. “Fortunately it wasn’t like the bad one that Carlos hit but we’ve definitely got to be on top of it.”

The Sakhir circuit hosts the first race of the season on March 2.