Azerbaijan practice cancelled after George Russell collides with loose drain cover

F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan - Practice

Formula One’s first practice session in Azerbaijan was cancelled after British driver George Russell dramatically collided with a loose drain cover.

Russell, competing in just his fourth grands prix, ran over the manhole cover at high speed, and sustained significant damage to his Williams.

Russell, 21, immediately pulled over to the side of the temporary track which runs through Baku.

He was unharmed but the session, just 10 minutes old, was hastily red-flagged.

A marshal attempted to stamp the drain cover down before the running was cancelled.

To add insult to injury, the recovery crane carrying Russell’s Williams back to the pits then farcically collided with a temporary pedestrian bridge running over the circuit.

The damaged crane began leaking hydraulic oil over Russell’s car leaving the mechanics at Williams with a hefty repair job.

“It’s a calamity of errors,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports. “I’ve never seen that before.”

Russell has been suffering with a respiratory infection this week and was pulled from his media duties on Thursday.

“I got the biggest smack through my body and the whole engine turned off,” he told Sky Sports as he described the alarming incident.

“It’s ruined the floor and I’m a bit worried for the chassis now. We were on the normal racing line and it’s completely ruined our session. It’s not what we need at this stage.”

Claire Williams, deputy team principal for the struggling British constructor, told Sky Sports: “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.”

With the session cancelled, officials made their way around the 3.7-mile track ensuring all the drain covers were sufficiently tightened.

But the alarming incident will naturally raise safety concerns ahead of Sunday’s race here.

The second practice session is due to get begin at 5pm local time (2pm UK).

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