However, that doesn’t mean that the Ferrari drivers will have one or two starting positions in Saturday evening’s race.
Sainz is sitting in a spare car because his Ferrari was badly damaged when he smashed the cover of a drain valve during testing on Thursday evening.
Since he had to switch to a second backup car, Sainz was penalized ten places on the starting grid and will instead start the race in twelfth place on Saturday evening.
Ferrari attempted to appeal this penalty on the grounds that the damage was caused by the track surface, but the FIA did not provide for an exception clause in its rules.
F1 and its owner Liberty Media spent $500 million on the race, which runs across the Strip and includes many of Las Vegas’ most iconic landmarks. It is the most expensive race of the season and the third most expensive race this year in the United States, more than in any other country.
“We have to learn to separate things: there is sport and there is spectacle, and you can combine the two properly,” said Sainz.
Still, he pointed out that Wednesday night’s opening ceremony and numerous celebrity events at casinos and restaurants were important.
“I see the race as a really good opportunity for Formula 1 and I’m happy to come to Las Vegas, but I feel like we started on the wrong foot. It was a very good opportunity to send a message. I get asked by people who have never competed in a race why I got a penalty.
Leclerc said he regretted the criticism of the disastrous opening day.
Training was halted nine minutes into the first session so officials could repair valve covers. The second training sessions started two and a half hours late and lasted until 4:00 a.m. and the amateurs had to leave before the second session.
“We must not forget how much work and people it took to make this happen. I think (the track) looks incredible,” Leclerc said. I really hope it will be an exciting race to really show what Formula 1 is all about. Yesterday was obviously a pretty bad start, but I think it’s an incredible place.”
The 6.2 km long street circuit with 17 corners uses a large part of the strip.
Max Verstappen, who is aiming for his 18th win of the season on Saturday evening, qualified third for Red Bull. He criticized the event in advance because he was of the opinion that Formula 1 had placed too much emphasis on the entertainment aspect.
He also called for a change in the rules so that drivers are not penalized for incidents like Thursday’s.
“The rules have to change, it’s the same if you pass out or have a serious accident,” said Verstappen. These things need to be taken into account. It’s very hard for Carlos.”
George Russell qualified fourth for Mercedes, followed by Alpine’s Pierre Gasly.
Williams drivers Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant finished sixth and seventh. This is the best qualifying result this year for the rookie American Sargeant.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton starts tenth with Aston Martin, nine places ahead of Canadian Lance Stroll.
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