A work crew hammers in sand used to fill a drain hole on the track after trouble with the drain cover halted the first practice session for the Las Vegas Formula One Grand Prix

Las Vegas (AFP) - The Las Vegas Grand Prix got off to an embarrassing start after the first practice session on the new circut was cut short after around 10 minutes on Thursday due to a loose drain cover.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz had his vehicle stop after hitting a bump, resulting in a red flag and damage to the front his vehicle.

After some delay organisers announced that the session would not be resumed.

“Following inspection, it was the concrete frame around a manhole cover that has failed. We now need to check all of the other manhole covers which will take some time,” the International Motoring Federation (FIA) said in a statement.

“We will be discussing with the local circuit engineering team about the length of time it will take to resolve and will update with any resultant changes to the schedule.”

A second practice session was scheduled for midnight local time in Vegas and organisers faced a race against time to make the checks and any necessary repairs in time.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had posted the fastest lap with a time of 1:40.909.

The Italian team said they were checking the damage caused to Sainz’s car but said that it “seems quite extensive”.

Esteban Ocon’s Alpine also suffered damage and the team were forced to begin changing the chassis on his car.

A similar incident occurred at the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix when George Russell, then racing for Williams, had his car hit by a loose manhole cover and the first practice session was cancelled.

Thursday’s opening practice was the first time the new circuit had been raced upon with no test event held.