Claire Williams calls FP1 incident ‘not acceptable’

Date published: April 26 2019

Claire Williams says it is "not acceptable" after a loose drain cover destroyed the underside of George Russell's car in FP1 in Baku.

Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams was left fuming after a loose drain cover caused serious damage to George Russell’s car.

It was Russell’s first lap of the session around the Baku City Circuit, but that proved to be his last after his FW42 sucked up a drain cover which smashed the underside of the car to pieces.

The disintegrating Williams would shut down and grind to a halt, as did FP1 which would not be restarted with over 300 manhole covers requiring checks.

To make matters worse, the recovery truck carrying Russell’s car would strike a bridge over the track, causing hydraulic fuel from the crane to pour all over the stricken Williams.

Speaking to the BBC, Williams said: “The circuit needs to make sure that their drain covers are bolted down properly. That’s just not acceptable.”

It was later confirmed that Russell would indeed need a new chassis and will not be allowed to run under the rules until FP3 tomorrow.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Williams added: “I think that when you send a car out on a race track that you should have the understanding that your car is not going to be damaged by that race track in that way.

“I’m incredibly annoyed about it, clearly. The most important thing is that George is OK, and that it didn’t cause what could potentially have been a bigger accident. We have to ask the FIA and FOM to ensure that it doesn’t happen, and protect against it in the future.

“And for us as an independent team there are serious financial implications of this. We’d just taken the pressure out of the system and got ourselves back on an even keel. The chassis is split, and we have to revert to chassis 03.

“We’re going to lose this afternoon’s running, and we’re potentially going to have to replace the ERS pack, which has again implications. It’s just not OK.

“We had the same here in 2016 with Valtteri, coming into the pitlane I think it was. It wasn’t as serious, but it was pretty significant.”

Asked if the team would seek compensation like Haas successfully did after a similar incident at the Malaysian GP in 2017, Williams said: “I think that those are conversations that will happen.”

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