Russell ran over the manhole cover early in FP1, triggering a red flag that eventually led to a cancellation of the session.
Damage to the chassis which can be repaired back at the team’s Grove base meant that he had to take the spare FW42 tub, which in turn meant he missed FP2 under FIA regulations.
The team will also replace the Mercedes ERS module due to the force of the hit the car took, although it may still be usable after it has been checked in Brixworth.
“It was obviously a very large hit,” said Russell. “I was just shocked really more than anything, just going down the straight doing your normal stuff, and I got this big hit. Obviously a lot of damage, and the car turned off straight away, because of the damage.
“Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt. It set the fire extinguisher off, and as that was so cold, I thought I was sort of burning, so I got out of the car as quick as I could! I don’t know the speed, but I know it was 4G of vertical load, which I think is quite high.
“I knew I hit something on the track, but I didn’t realise it was a manhole cover. It was already quite bumpy down the straight as it is. It was quite a shock when I smashed it, and very dangerous, really.”
Russell acknowledged that he was fortunate to escape unscathed: “Yes, if that was 10-15mm higher, it was going straight into where I’m sat. It could have been much worse.
“It’s a shame for all the guys, you’ve got your full programmes, your plans for the weekend, and it all gets thrown down the drain, literally.”
He admitted that the rest of the weekend will be tough given his lack of mileage.
“I’ve lost both practice sessions now. Obviously everybody lost FP1, but I lost 40 laps in this session maybe as well. Only a one hour session tomorrow before qualy, and we won’t be doing much more than one qualifying session, I expect. We’re going into the race quite blind.
“It’s a bit frustrating but we have to make the most of the situation. I’m trying to stay positive. I think going into the weekend anyway we knew it would be a difficult weekend, we have no special upgrade this weekend.”
Regarding his plan for Saturday, he added: “I think go out, and don’t do anything stupid. I’ve got to treat tomorrow like an FP1 session. I can’t go out there full attack because I still need to learn the circuit and get my bearings of Baku again.”
Russel said he was feeling better after suffering with a respiratory infection since the last race in China. The biggest problem is that he has had to skip training in the past week.
“I’m feeling better, definitely not 100%. It’s quite up and down, really. I’ve had another day of rest so I should be in better shape tomorrow.”
“I haven’t trained at all since China, just been in my bed doing nothing really. I was improving then woke up yesterday morning and felt woeful again.”
Share this post if you enjoyed! 🙂