All drain covers across the length of the Monaco track have now been checked by track inspectors ahead of the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix, following the freak incident involving Jenson Button during the FP1 session on Thursday, when a drain cover became loose and smashed into the Briton’s MP4-31, damaging the front wing, brake ducts and floor of the car. A red flag was brought out whilst the incident was investigated, and Button lost crucial track time whilst his engineers worked on repairing the McLaren ahead of the afternoon’s FP2 session.
Any drains that were found to be loose during the inspection have now been firmly secured and it is hoped no similar occurrences will be seen during the remaining sessions.
It was found that the drain cover was in fact a square inspection hatch, measuring around 25cm x 25cm that cracked and came loose. It has been advised that all covers had been checked prior to the F1 practice session but the welding had not been sufficient to hold this particular hatch in place when it broke.
As well as damaging the McLaren of Button, Nico Rosberg also sustained a puncture after running over the offending cover at Ste Devote prior to the 2009 world champion. Race Director Charlie Whiting completed a recce of the area after the morning incident and was happy all covers had now been welded securely in place ahead of the support race on Friday.
Whilst safety is paramount for officials at all race weekends as well as Monaco, this sort of incident is not something that we should be seeing in such a high speed sport as F1, and drivers such as Fernando Alonso believe that it strengthens the case for cockpit protection to be brought in.