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Ricciardo says running Vegas practice without fans was least-worst option

Daniel Ricciardo says it was the right decision to run a delayed FP2 at the Las Vegas Grand Prix, even though fans were told to leave the circuit before it started. However, he added that questions regarding the circuit’s safety are justified after a problematic first day for the first-time event.

Loose drain covers led to FP1 being canceled after eight minutes of track running, with Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon both sustaining heavy damage and needing to change chassis. While repairs took place, FP2 was delayed from its original starting time of midnight until 2:30am, and fans were told that they had to leave due to security staff having to clock off. Nevertheless, Ricciardo says getting the session in was important.

“I don’t know (if it’s right the session happened in front of empty grandstands),” Ricciardo said. “It was definitely late, don’t get me wrong, and you guys are pretty good for staying out here. Now that we have done a session it feels more worth it, but at 1:30am it didn’t feel worth it and it just felt like, ‘Let’s do this tomorrow.’

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“But I don’t know the ins and outs of circuit availability — it’s not a conventional circuit, so it’s not like we can rock up in the morning and just go. I’m sure there are some limitations that we are at mercy to. We got it done, and I’m sure it was a longer day than everybody would have liked, but at least there was something.

“The grandstand situation, I heard they got kicked out … that’s a bummer, yeah. If we didn’t do the FP2 it would have probably just been scrapped and we would have gone into FP3, so at least like this the fans got to watch it on TV.

“I’m trying to be positive! But it’s obviously a difficult situation and I don’t want to s**t on the sport — it’s the first time here, it’s a massive project and things unfortunately happened. I know no one wanted them to but I guess they did the best they could with what they had. I know it’s late and everyone is probably a little bit grumpy, but at least we got some running done.”

When asked if other aspects fell by the wayside due to the focus on the visuals in Las Vegas, Ricciardo replied: “It’s a fair question. Yeah, it’s a late day, but two cars got ruined. Along with that there is a financial thing there for the teams, which is a big issue for them, but then you brought up the biggest issue, which is safety. Fortunately Carlos is OK, but those things could have bigger consequences.

“I don’t know, I think it’s easy to say we did opening ceremonies and focused on other things and did they do their due diligence on the track, but with everything that happened today, you could ask some questions like did they do enough? That one for sure I can’t side step, that is a safety concern, and we’re here late but the safety one is something hopefully they will take pretty seriously.

“It happened in Monaco and Baku as well — it’s obviously a street circuit thing, but I feel like permanent circuits have a certain criteria or whatever and a lot of boxes to tick and I feel like street circuits need a few more. It’s hard when it’s open to the public, but they obviously need to do that.”

The damage caused to Sainz’s energy store required him to take another one that exceeds the limits, resulting in him getting a grid penalty. Ricciardo says the regulations need addressing around such a situation.

“That’s not fair. It’s a bit like Brazil — they stick to the rule book for Oscar (Piastri) and I but it’s like, come on,” he said. “That one you would think they would take some common sense. So I don’t agree with that one.”

Story originally appeared on Racer