George Russell, Williams, Baku City Circuit, 2019

Chassis damage rules Russell out of second practice

2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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George Russell will be unable to resume his Azerbaijan Grand Prix practice until tomorrow after a drain cover damaged his car in first practice.

The Williams driver struck the cover as he was approaching turn three during his third lap of the track during first practice.

The impact caused significant damage to the underside of Russell’s FW42. The team has confirmed he will require a new chassis, which means he will be unable to run again until tomorrow’s final hour of practice ahead of qualifying.

Russell, who arrived in Baku suffering from a respiratory infection, was unhurt in the incident. However further damaged was caused to his car when the recovery truck it was placed on struck a bridge, and a damaged hydraulic arm dripped fluid onto its engine cover.

The practice session was abandoned while the other manhole covers on the six-kilometre Baku City Circuit were inspected. The qualifying session for the Formula Two feature race was scheduled to begin in 20 minutes’ at the track but has been postponed due to the ongoing checks.

The standard of building work at the temporary circuit was a concern during its first race in 2016, when several kerbs had to be altered following the first day of practice. Valtteri Bottas’s Williams was also damaged by a loose drain cover during final practice that year.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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13 comments on “Chassis damage rules Russell out of second practice”

  1. This is patently absurd. It’s the FIA’s fault (or FOM, or the organiser, but it comes down to F1 management) that he has to change his chassis. Make an exception. This is ridiculous, he has to suffer for F1’s failings.

    1. @hahostolze

      Like things couldn’t get any worse for Williams. Now they’ll have a damaged car with a lack of spares given their financial woes anyways. The FOM or FIA should reimburse Williams for the damage to be honest, as it is clear negligence on their part.

      1. @todfod – when Haas’ car was damaged by a loose rainwater drainage grate at Malaysia, it was the circuit’s insurer who indemnified them: https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/138995/haas-settles-trange-insurance-claim-with-sepang

        1. @phylyp

          Aaah.. didn’t know that. Thanks for article

      2. @hahostolze – In the above-mentioned Haas/Malaysia incident, the FIA stepped in and gave the team a free “joker” to allow the mechanics to break the curfew while working on the car.

        Teams are given two jokers (IIRC) per year where they can work beyond the specified hours on the car, since this incident was caused by factors outside the team’s control, the FIA gave them a free pass.

    2. I agree. This is entirely the fault of the organiser not the team. Williams should not be penalised and should be allowed to practice even if that means running a small extra practice session just for them. Also the damage ought to be paid for too.

      1. Agree it’s the organiser’s fault (as in Malaysia). But I don’t think there should be freebies other than lifting the curfew mentioned by @phylyp above. What’s next blaming; FOM* for rainstorm abandoned session?

        * FOM being owned by an American company, with the President of that country stepping out of the Paris agreement, reducing the commitment and actions of others and causing accelerated climate change and more extreme weather events.

        1. Obviously not. However Williams are going to miss the practice not due to working restrictions but because there simply is not enough time to fix the car. So either second practice is also abandoned or Williams should get some allotted practice time to make sure they are not unfairly penalised.

          Although I would love to blame the weather (and the US president certainly has a lot to answer for there) it would affect everyone and so does not require recompense. FOM is responsible for the safety of the track, it is not responsible for rain…

        2. Please don’t conflate the actions of the US government with an American company, who very well may not agree with those actions.

  2. Williams deserves compensation. Apparently they luckily now have a 3rd chassis built as a spare, so Russell will be able to still race this weekend. Will the 300 drains be inspected and secured in time for fp2?

  3. This might show that this push from Liberty to go to street circuits on new venues might have safety risks and revenue impact on events that would not occur in proper race tracks. What strikes me is that to have a Fia grade 1 standard, a circuit must be almost like a big parking lot, whilst the new street circuits ( Baku / Hanoi) looks much more dangerous. If they are willing to accept circuits like this , why not accept then exciting circuits like Bathurst, Road America, etc? They don’t look more dangerous than Baku in my view.

    1. A man after my own heart…

    2. …events that would not occur in proper race tracks.

      Well this is awkward.

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