‘It came out of nowhere’ – Russell on FP1 drain incident
A Formula 1 car running at around 320km/h generates so much road lift, the front wing alone is capable of easily raising a 110kg object. That’s a scientific fact that George Russell found out to his cost in FP1 in Azerbaijan, with the Williams rookie sustaining major damage to his car early on after contact with a loose drain cover.
It was a highly unusual incident, and one that the 21-year-old – who missed FP2 as Williams built up a new car for him - admits caught him completely by surprise.
“It came out of nowhere. You can’t see these drains when you’re going that fast down the straight, and you’ve got so many on the track it’s just normal to run over them. The second I did there was a huge bang. I didn’t feel anything through my back so that was good but I could tell it had ripped the floor off.”
But then there was a further moment of anxiety for the Englishman: “[The impact] set the fire extinguisher off and because of that the car ended up turning off. Because the fire extinguisher was so cold it almost felt like it was burning me, so I didn’t know what was going on really at that point. I just jumped out as quickly as I could.”
Having endured a difficult start to his maiden F1 campaign with Williams, Russell struggled to hide his frustration after being forced to sit out FP2 as his team prepared him a fresh chassis.
“It’s just an unnecessary amount of pain and damage, and a lot of cost is going to be incurred because of this incident. It’s frustrating for all of us.
“[The new chassis] doesn’t really change anything. I’ll still go into tomorrow trying to make the most of our session. But obviously we don’t have our spare car now.
“You don’t plan to crash or do anything stupid like that but you know the spare car is there for a reason. You’d like to have to go to that spare car when it’s truly needed from something of your own doing. This was completely out of our hands so it’s very fortunate they had that here or we wouldn’t racing.”