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Verstappen: Addressing loose drain cover issue in F1 “a must”

Max Verstappen says that addressing the issue of loose drain covers and similar metal items is “a must” for upcoming Formula 1 venues.

Marshalls and race control work to fix a loose drain cover

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Although there have been similar instances over the years at various tracks, the current generation of high downforce ground effect cars appear to be more likely to trigger problems when they run over covers due to the forces involved.

Testing in Bahrain was stopped on both Thursday and Friday due to drain covers coming loose in their concrete bases, fortunately without causing serious damage to cars.

The incidents came just a few months after Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari was badly damaged by a dislodged water valve cover early in FP1 at the Las Vegas GP, delaying practice for several hours while a solution was sought.

The Bahrain organisers intend to address the problem before next week’s Grand Prix. Filling in drains with concrete as a temporary measure is among the options being explored.

However, drivers have expressed concerned about a possible repeat at other venues.

“For sure, with the ground effect cars, probably it's a little bit worse,” said world champion Verstappen when asked about the problem by Autosport.

“But also it seems like we are driving in places that not a lot of other cars are going, in terms of opening up corners and stuff. But maybe these kinds of things can be checked a bit more.

“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. 

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Motorsport Images

"So before you start driving in the weekend to double check that everything is solid is a must for the upcoming tracks, that we don't have another situation where cars get destroyed.

“And especially with the budget cap in place as well, it's not nice when these things happen.”

Sainz’s team-mate Leclerc, who ran over the loose cover on Thursday, agreed that the problem needs to be addressed.

“It's a serious issue because it can have big consequences,” he said. “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, but in Vegas it was quite serious for Carlos. But I'm sure everybody is on it, and working on finding the best solution for that.”

Lewis Hamilton also urged the series to address the issue.

“Obviously it's a concern,” said the Mercedes driver. “And hopefully the FIA are on top of it, welding these things well in advance before us getting there.

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

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