2019 has not been a happy year for Williams so far – and the team had their woe added to in Free Practice 1 at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, when a loose drain cover caused damage to George Russell’s FW42 that meant he would require a new chassis.
With just over 10 minutes of the first session of the weekend gone, Russell was powering down the straight towards Turn 3 at the Baku City Circuit when his Williams struck a drain cover that had been lifted by Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari.
READ MORE: Drain cover issue cuts short first session in Baku
FP1: Russell drain cover damage brings early end to Baku practice
Russell drove over the cover, with the impact causing significant underfloor damage to the FW42 – with Williams later confirming that they would need to change the Briton’s chassis, meaning he wouldn’t be able to run in Free Practice 2.
“George’s car will require a chassis change due to the damage caused by the loose drain cover,” Williams said in a statement. “Therefore due to regulations he will not be able to run until FP3 tomorrow.”
Both the reduced track time and logistical challenge of preparing a new chassis for Russell will be yet more unwelcome news for Williams, with the team’s cars having qualified over 3.7 seconds off the pace on average across the first three races of the year so far.
All Access - Episode 2: George Russell