Azerbaijan Grand Prix: FP1 cancelled as loose drain cover wrecks George Russell’s Williams

26 Apr

The first practice session for this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix has been cancelled after a loose drain cover wrecked George Russell’s Williams.

Russell, competing in just his fourth GP, sustained serious damage to his car after dislodging the drain cover at high speed.

The running was first red-flagged, before it was cancelled with staff out on the track to clear the debris.

All 320 drain covers on the track have to be checked before free practice can resume.

You can watch a video of the incident below…

The incident will raise serious safety concerns ahead of Sunday’s race.

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

Wires could be seen hanging underneath the car as it was placed on the truck

“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.”

To make matters worse for Williams, the recovery crane carrying Russell’s car back to the pits collided with a temporary footbridge which runs over the track.

The truck carrying Russell’s car crashed into a footbridge as it made its way back to the pits

The damaged crane then started leaking hydraulic fluid over Russell’s Williams.

Claire Williams, deputy team principal for the 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.”

Formula One: New deal agreed to keep Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku until 2023

5 Feb

Azerbaijan will host a Grand Prix until at least 2023 as Formula One announced a three-year extension to the existing deal on Tuesday.

The race on the streets of Baku was due to expire next season, but an agreement has been reached to keep the Grand Prix until 2023.

Azerbaijan, a race put together by former supremo Bernie Ecclestone, made its F1 debut in 2017. It is understood to pay the highest fee on the calendar, estimated to be in the region of £45million-a-year.

Last season’s race was won by Lewis Hamilton.

“In just a short space of time, this race has become one of the most popular of the season, always producing closely fought and spectacular racing,” said F1 chairman Chase Carey.

The announcement comes after Carey met with a number of disgruntled race promoters in London last week.

Silverstone, which hosts the British Grand Prix, is one of five races up for renewal this season. The others are Monza, Hockenheim, Barcelona and Mexico City.

Ahead of the summit, the Formula One Promoters’ Association issued a deeply disapproving statement about how the sport was being run.

Following the day-long summit, Stuart Pringle, chairman for FOPA and Silverstone managing director, said there was “a basis for a discussion going forward”.