A loose drainpipe cover has brought the opening practice session in Azerbaijan to a halt, just 12 minutes in, after George Russell’s Williams FW42 suffered bodywork damage running over a metal lid.

The Briton was caught out by the loosend manhole cover on the long run down into Turn 3. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc looked to be the one who shifted the lid, with the aerodynamic pressure of his SF90 dislodging the metal cover while on a timed lap.

Officials quickly reacted, stopping the session to assess all drain pipe covers around the 6.003-kilometre circuit. It is believed that over 300 covers were required to be inspected, forcing the session to be abandoned.

This sort of drama is familiar at street circuits, previously happening at the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix when Jenson Button’s McLaren struck a cover disturbed by Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes.

George Russell

More unwanted drama followed when the flatbed truck’s crane carrying Russell’s stricken car collided with a pedestrian overpass above the circuit. The crane then started to leak oil as it arrived into the Pit Lane, spilling onto the damaged FW42.

Nevertheless, Russell’s car will undergo a chassis change, leaving the reigning Formula 2 champion stuck in the garage until Free Practice 3 tomorrow, according to the regulations.

Mercedes were the only team who failed to complete an installation lap while the Ferrari duo were the only two runners to set a time before the session was suspended.

Only one more 90-minute session is left today as the cars to prepare for the weekend.

Practice 2 is expected to start at 1300 GMT.

Images via Red Bull Racing and Williams ROKiT Racing

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Luke McCullough

Melbourne Based - 17 Grand Prix attendances and counting in Australia, Singapore, Canada, France, Austria and Great Britain.
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