George Russell reckons his drain cover incident in Baku could have been “much worse” as the manhole cover was “10 or 15 millimetres” away from entering his cockpit.
The British rookie’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend did not get off to a great start on Friday as he brought out the red flags, and the complete cancellation of FP1, 15 minutes into the session.
Out on track, Russell drove over a drain cover that had been loosened by the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.
When the Williams driver hit it, it shot up and shattered his FW42’s floor and diffuser.
“I knew I hit something on the track but I didn’t realise it was a manhole cover,” Russell explained.
“It was already quite bumpy down the straight as it is. But like I said was quite a shock when I smashed it, really dangerous.
“If that was 10 or 15 millimetres higher it’s going straight into where I’m sat, so could have been much worse, but a shame for all the guys.
“You’ve got your full programme, plans for the weekend and it all gets thrown down the drain, literally.”
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The Brit went onto explain that hit, “a very large” one, was 4G of vertical load.
He added: “It was obviously a very large hit.
“I was just shocked really more than anything, just going down the straight doing your normal stuff, and I got this big hit.
“Obviously a lot of damage, and the car turned off straight away, because of the damage.
“Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt.
“It set the fire extinguisher off, and as that was so cold, I thought I was sort of burning, so I got out of the car as quick as I could!
“I don’t know the speed, but I know it was 4G of vertical load, which I think is quite high.”
Russell was forced to sit out FP2 as well as he required a new chassis. He will be back in action for Saturday’s final practice.