Baku City Circuit, 2019

FIA checked 300 drain covers after discovering failed clamp

2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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FIA race director Michael Masi has confirmed over 300 drain covers around the Baku City Circuit were checked after one damaged George Russell’s car and forced a halt to the first practice session.

Masi, who took over from the late Charlie Whiting as race director at the beginning of the season, said inspection of the cover Russell hit indicated a broken clamp had allowed the Williams to lift it from the track surface.

“From what we’ve seen from our preliminary investigations it looks like one of the clamps underneath one of the manholes has actually failed,” Masi told Sky. “There’s no explanation at this point as to why.

“What we’ve done is from a precautionary point of view, there’s in excess of 300 manhole covers around this circuit, so we’ve checked every single one. From an FIA perspective at the end of the say safety is paramount so we cancelled the end of FP1 and then with regards to F2 qualifying moved that back and told the circuit take as long as you need to make sure the job’s done properly.

“From what we’ve seen so far we’re quite confident and we’ll go through a further programme tonight and for the rest of the weekend.”

The second practice session began on time and Masi is confident the checks will prevent a repeat of the incident.

“In the short time they’ve done a few further checks again just to make sure. Everything seems to be in order.

“We’ve seen these type of incidents happen previously. I think Monte-Carlo was the last one a number of years ago. [It’s] not something that any of us wish upon but no different to a car: When something breaks and you don’t know, it happens.”

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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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17 comments on “FIA checked 300 drain covers after discovering failed clamp”

  1. “From what we’ve seen from our preliminary investigations it looks like one of the clamps underneath one of the manholes has actually failed,” Masi told Sky. “There’s no explanation at this point as to why.


    1. There’s a video circulating around of Charles Leclerc going over it, with the tyres detaching/loosening the drain cover.

      Surprised they didn’t mention it

  2. Well, in a way I am glad to hear it was a material failure and not really a failure of the FIA/track safety procedures. I do guess they will need to check those clamps after some of the sessions to see whether that’s a unique incident or an indicator of a larger problem.

  3. Difficult issue if it is a clamp failiure, prelimnary checks prior to sessions would show the covers were secure. but how much can you test them before risking dmage to them that may only become apparent when a car goes over them?

    These clamps would have been tested during manufacture and checked again before being attached, but like anything like this, it would just take something as simple as a unforseen manufacturing flaw, metal fatigue or even the attachment point of the cover itself for it to fail.

    And if one clamp fails, that then puts more stress on the other clamps pushing them to the extent of their tolerances.

    1. Well, you can check them in principle with ultrasound I’d think (though you’d have to maybe test a bit first, if those clamps are embedded in the ground) – that’s how they test airplanes and other stuff they cannot easily remove (without worse issues) for fatigue after all @nikkit; I’d think they might want to consider that at least for the future.

  4. So contrary to popular wisdom, they aren’t welded. I’d wondered about that. And now I wonder if at some point in the past they were welded.

    1. @zapski I am quite sure the draincovers in the side of the pavement in Monaco going up the hill towards casino (the one that failed for Barrichello, wait wasn’t that a Williams too?!) were welded, maybe too bc. they are in the side and smaller; so less room for solid clamps – it might also be that in Monaco they (used to?) welded them shut traditionally (so perhaps now too with clamps?).

  5. Something doesn’t add up!
    We have all seen in FP1 video-coverage how some FIA/local guy was frantically bolting down another cover!

    FIA, please, just admit someone messed up, no need to imagine things.

    1. Your tinfoils too tight.

      1. Or too thin!😜

      2. So, you didn’t see the guy bolting down another cover, apparently because already bolted cover requires more bolting, right?

        Should I send you the video?

        1. Posting a link to the relevant film clip would be helpful.

    2. BlackJackFan
      26th April 2019, 17:44

      But aren’t you also just imagining things…? lol.

  6. Williams just can’t catch a break, now can they?

    It seems Williams is now a victim of the Williams curse.

  7. Another example of the inability of the FIA. This should never have happened. But in reality they do not care at all. The only thing they want and the Americans who own the category is the money paid by the Baku organizers. The rest do not care at all.

  8. Haven’t seen something like this since Malaysia 2017.

    1. Shocking innit.

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