Williams will seek compensation for the damage caused to George Russell’s FW42 car by a loose drain cover in opening practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Friday.

Russell struck the loose manhole cover on the run between Turn 2 and Turn 3 early in FP1 at the Baku City Circuit, leaving the underside of his car with significant damage and cracking the chassis.

The issue forced Williams to switch Russell to its spare chassis, ruling him out of second practice on Friday afternoon, and acted as another setback for the beleaguered team after a difficult start to the season.

“It never rains but it pours this year,” deputy team boss Claire Williams told Sky Sports F1.

“It could have been worse than it was.Aa drain cover coming off like that could have done a lot more damage.

"George is fine and that’s the most important thing, and the FIA are clearly taking it incredibly seriously and making sure every one of those manhole covers is checked and bolted down as they should be.

“But unfortunately it’s clearly done a huge amount of damage to our car. It’s destroyed our floor, and has cracked our chassis.

“It’s not beyond repair, but we can’t repair it here, so we’re going to have to deploy chassis three here for George. That means he misses FP2 this afternoon but he’ll get out tomorrow in FP3.”

While Williams would not be drawn on the exact cost of the damage to the car, she said it was “in the hundreds of thousands”, and that the team would be seeking compensation given its lack of blame for the incident.

“Clearly we’re going to have to be talking to them about that,” Williams confirmed.

“We’re an independent team, and we have a very strict budget to control. Things like this, you can’t anticipate. Nobody can, I understand that, but there clearly should be some recompense.

“I know there is a precedent. Haas I believe were compensated after it happened to them in Sepang a few years ago, so clearly we’re going to be talking to them.

“But we can’t put a number on it at the moment.”

Haas managed to receive compensation from the Sepang International Circuit after a loose drain cover caused Romain Grosjean to have a high-speed crash in practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2017. However, the case took almost a year to be settled.

Baku officials said the loose manhole cover had been caused by an "undetectable problem", which FIA race director Michael Masi said related to one of the underground clamps holding it down.

More than 300 manhole covers were checked around the circuit before the resumption of running in Baku, with Formula 2 qualifying being delayed by half an hour as a result.

 

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