Drivers call for safety checks following drain dramas

Drivers call for safety checks following drain dramas


A number of drivers have spoken out after pre-season testing had to be red-flagged twice due to errant drain covers.

Thursday morning’s session was abandoned after just over two hours of running when a drain cover came loose after Lewis Hamilton and then Charles Leclerc ran wide and over a kerb. As a result of the stoppage the afternoon session was extended by an hour but the lost time, not to mention changed conditions, affected the teams’ planned programmes.

Sadly on Friday it happened again and while the situation was resolved much more speedily, the decision was taken to continue running without a lunchbreak, meaning that those teams planning to change drivers over the break were now under added, unnecessary pressure.

The incident brought back memories of last year’s Las Vegas Grand Prix, when Carlos Sainz’ Ferrari was badly damaged by a loose cover, the Spaniard having salt rubbed in his wound by being penalised.

However, it is the safety issues raised that has left drivers concerned.

“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 Max Verstappen following Friday’s incident.

“Maybe these kind of things can be checked a bit more,” he added. “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.”

“It’s a serious issue because it can have big consequences,” added Charles Leclerc, whose team is still awaiting compensation for the damage done to his teammate’s car last November. “We have to look into it for the future, for it to not happen again.

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

“Hopefully the FIA are on top of it,” agreed Lewis Hamilton, “welding these things well in advance before us getting there.

“Fortunately, it wasn’t like the bad the one that Carlos hit,” he added, “but we’ve definitely got to be on top of it.”


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