The opening practice session for the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix has been cancelled after Williams driver George Russell hit a loose manhole cover.

Just 15 minutes into the session, Russell drove over a loose drain cover and sustained heavy damage to his Williams FW42, an accident which brought out instant red flags. Russell was unhurt in the incident. 

The FIA and marshals began to carry out an inspection of drain covers around the circuit, with over 300 manhole covers at the Baku City Circuit.

Adding to the drama, the recovery crane carrying Russell’s car then collided with an overhead track bridge on its way back to the pitlane. It was announced shortly afterwards that the session would not be restarted.

Only Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel had set times prior to the cancellation of the session. Leclerc, who posted the fastest time of FP1, appeared to dislodge the drain cover after initially running over it moments before Russell.

It is the first time an F1 practice session has been abandoned since second practice for the 2017 Chinese Grand Prix was cancelled due to poor weather.


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