Watch: Loose drain wrecks Williams F1 car in Azerbaijanhttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/motor-sport/williams-f1-george-russell-drain-azerbaijan-grand-prix-baku-5696837/

Watch: Loose drain wrecks Williams F1 car in Azerbaijan

Comedy of errors in Baku saw a loose drain cover wreck George Russell's car when he ran over it at speed in Friday's first practice. Then, the mobile crane carrying the car hit a sponsor hoarding.

George Russell's Williams F1 car is recovered after stopping on track.
George Russell’s Williams F1 car is recovered after stopping on track. (Source: Reuters)

Williams Formula One were left frustrated after a loose drain wrecked George Russell’s car when he ran over it at speed in Friday’s first practice at Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Shocked Russell, 21, a rookie was unhurt in the incident between turns two and three but the chassis had to be replaced, sidelining the Briton until Saturday’s final session before qualifying.

To further the comedy of errors and frustration of the team and driver, the mobile crane carrying the broken down car hit the underside of a sponsor hoarding spanning the track, leaking hydraulic fluid onto the car. Not so surprisingly, Williams team will seek compensation from Azerbaijan Grand Prix organisers.

As per some estimates, the likely cost to Williams for the damage was put at more than half a million dollars.

“There clearly should be some recompense,” a disappointed deputy team principal Claire Williams told Sky Sports television. “I know that there’s precedent, Haas I believe were compensated after it happened to them in Sepang (Malaysia) a few years ago so clearly we are going to be talking to them (the circuit) but I can’t put a number on it at the moment,” she added.

Advertising

“I just hit it, the biggest shock went through my body. The whole engine just turned off, it’s ruined the floor,” said Russell. “It was just on the normal racing line and has ruined my session.”

The session was red flagged and then abandoned just 12 minutes into the scheduled 90 as organisers and track officials worked to check some 320 manhole covers and carry out repairs.

“They’re going to fix it (the track) now but of course it shouldn’t have happened,” said Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. “Running over a cover like that at 300 kph is not nice.”

Race director Michael Masi said a preliminary investigation indicated one of the clamps beneath the manhole had failed.

Five-times world champion and overall leader Lewis Hamilton, winner in Baku last year for Mercedes, did not seem to mind the lack of action, however. “How could they have not checked and sealed the drains?” the Briton asked on his Instagram feed. “Oh well, (it) just gives me extra time to catch up on Game of Thrones,” added the 34-year-old

Former world champions Williams have had a horrid start to the season. They are last in the standings and neither Russell nor Polish team mate Robert Kubica have scored a point in three races this year.

(With inputs from Reuters)