Ferrari rebounded from a disastrous first day of the Las Vegas Grand Prix with a Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. sweep of Friday night qualifying.
Only it does not translate into a 1-2 start in Saturday night's race for the two Ferrari drivers. Sainz is in a backup car because his Ferrari was badly damaged when he ran over a drainage valve cover in Thursday night’s opening practice.
Because he needed to move to a backup car for the rest of the weekend, Sainz was penalized 10 spots on the starting grid and will instead start 12th on Saturday night. Ferrari tried to argue against the penalty because the damage to the car was caused by the track surface, but the FIA had no provision in its rules to grant an exception.
After the qualifying run, Sainz was struggling to balance the showmanship of F1's first visit to Las Vegas in 41 years and the damage to the sporting element of the biggest spectacle on the series' 22-race calendar.
F1 and owner Liberty Media have spent $500 million on the race that uses the Strip and incorporates several Las Vegas landmarks. It's the most expensive race to attend on the season and the third stop this year in the United States, more than any other country.
Leclerc said criticism over the disastrous opening day saddened him. Practice was stopped nine minutes into the first session for track officials to fix all the valve covers that needed attention, the second practice started 2 1/2-hours late at 2:30 a.m. and ran until 4 a.m., and fans were ordered to leave before the second practice.
Las Vegas Grand Prix officials took steps to mend relations with fans angered or disappointed about not getting what they paid for Thursday night.
They offered those with single-event tickets a $200 discount at the official gift shop. But there were two big problems with that offer. It doesn’t apply to the majority of fans who purchased three-day passes. And the $200 gesture doesn’t go far — at all.
A single quarter-zip racing-team pullover goes for $200 in the gift shop, not including sales tax.
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