FIA checked 300 drain covers after discovering failed clamp

FIA race director Michael Masi has confirmed over 300 drain covers around the Baku City Circuit were checked after one damaged George Russell’s car and forced a halt to the first practice session.Masi, who took over from the late Charlie Whiting as race director at the beginning of the season, said inspection of the cover…

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Baku City Circuit, 2019

FIA race director Michael Masi has confirmed over 300 drain covers around the Baku City Circuit were checked after one damaged George Russell’s car and forced a halt to the first practice session.

Masi, who took over from the late Charlie Whiting as race director at the beginning of the season, said inspection of the cover Russell hit indicated a broken clamp had allowed the Williams to lift it from the track surface.

“From what we’ve seen from our preliminary investigations it looks like one of the clamps underneath one of the manholes has actually failed,” Masi told Sky. “There’s no explanation at this point as to why.

“What we’ve done is from a precautionary point of view, there’s in excess of 300 manhole covers around this circuit, so we’ve checked every single one. From an FIA perspective at the end of the say safety is paramount so we cancelled the end of FP1 and then with regards to F2 qualifying moved that back and told the circuit take as long as you need to make sure the job’s done properly.

“From what we’ve seen so far we’re quite confident and we’ll go through a further programme tonight and for the rest of the weekend.”

The second practice session began on time and Masi is confident the checks will prevent a repeat of the incident.

“In the short time they’ve done a few further checks again just to make sure. Everything seems to be in order.

“We’ve seen these type of incidents happen previously. I think Monte-Carlo was the last one a number of years ago. [It’s] not something that any of us wish upon but no different to a car: When something breaks and you don’t know, it happens.”

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