The opening of the Las Vegas Grand Prix has been thrown into turmoil after first practice was called off just nine minutes into the hour, owing to unsafe track conditions.
Free practice had only just got up and running when Carlos Sainz appeared to strike a loose drain cover down the long Strip straight.
The Spaniard’s car suffered a significant hit, with onboard replay footage showing a significant vibration at the moment of impact before the car switched itself off.
Sainz was able to park his car by the side of the road and walk back to his garage uninjured.
Other videos showed the car had taken serious damage, including a destroyed front section of the floor and a potential suspension failure.
The car was recovered by a flatbed truck for inspection by the team and FIA technical staff, with race control calling off the session shortly afterwards.
The governing body said it would have to undertake a new inspection of the circuit before confirming what had gone wrong and undertaking any necessary rectification work.
A yellow flag had already been thrown at that part of the track shortly before Sainz’s accident.
Esteban Ocon, who was a way ahead of Sainz on the circuit, afterwards reported damage to his car too, with a loose drain cover also Alpine’s suspected culprit.
The French team said it will need to change his chassis before the next session.
Mechanics were seen checking their cars for damage after the session was called off.
Sainz’s teammate, Charles Leclerc, topped the session with a lap of 1m 40.909s, but no-one set more than five laps in the nine minutes before the suspension.
Logan Sargeant was the only driver not to get out on track in the time available.