Motorsport: Shambolic scenes mar start of Formula One's Las Vegas Grand Prix as drivers, fans left frustrated

Billed as the most spectacular event in Formula One history, the last 24 hours at the Las Vegas Grand Prix have made it the most shambolic.  

After all the hype, expectation and US$850 million price tag, race organisers were left redfaced after just eight minutes by a loose manhole cover, which led to furious fans being escorted away by police and racing not finishing until 4am local time.  

The stage was set for something special at Vegas and everything was running smoothly - until it wasn't.

Carlos Sainz in action at the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
Carlos Sainz in action at the Las Vegas Grand Prix. Photo credit: Getty Images

Travelling at about 300kph, Carlos Sainz hit a manhole cover on the track, suffering significant damage to his Ferrari. The Spaniard was forced to retire and left with a grid penalty to fix his damaged car.

Meanwhile, race officials were forced to check every manhole on the 6km circuit.

"You will not see me very happy this weekend, for something that I have no fault, the team has no fault in," said Sainz. "You can obviously imagine how disappointed and in disbelief I am with the situation."

The lengthy delay left the drivers in limbo, but there was more to come. At 2am local time, the second practice session got underway, but not in front of fans, who had paid tens of thousands of dollars for the experience, but were left with one they'd rather forget.

As police moved in to escort fans out, drivers finally got back on track, with Ferrari taking the top two spots, thanks to Charles Leclerc and Sainz.

Thankfully, the third practice session was underway on Saturday afternoon (NZ time) without incident, but Sainz will hope what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.