FP1 cancelled in Baku after manhole drama

George Russell’s Williams was damaged by a loose manhole cover, that led to FP1 at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix being abandoned.

The first practice session for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was abandoned a little over 10 minutes into the session as a loose manhole cover caused mayhem in Baku.

Heavy damage was caused to the underside of George Russell’s Williams car when he ran over a drain cover down towards Turn 3, which television replays showed had already been loosened by the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

The session was red flagged as circuit workers tried to get the manhole cover back in place and Race Control needed to check the other manholes at the circuit – of which there are a reported 300.

“I just hit it and got the biggest smack through my body,” Russell told Sky Sports afterwards. “I was just going down the straight on my normal line.

 

“The engine turned off, it’s ruined the floor and the chassis could be ruined. The session won’t be going green until it’s sorted and it’s ruined the session.

 

“I’m better, still not 100 per cent but going in the right direction.”

 

As Russell’s FW42 was taken back to the pits on a recovery truck, the crane that had helped lift the vehicle collided with a bridge and spilled liquid onto the car.

Williams deputy principle Claire Williams added: “It’s clear from the data and what everyone can see that there is a lot of damage to the floor of the car and who knows what else.

“We’ll need to wait and see until we get it back to [assess] the extent of that.

 

“We’ll have to wait and see if that chassis is repairable or if we have to go to our third chassis.

 

“It’s clearly not what we want and it’s not what you expect from a Formula One track. These drain covers are supposed to be bolted down.

 

“We’ll be picking that up with race control.”

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