Loose drain cover damaged Valtteri Bottas' F1 car in Baku

Loose drain cover damaged Valtteri Bottas' F1 car in Baku

Published Jun. 18, 2016 12:37 p.m. ET

Williams head of performance engineering Rob Smedley says that an incident that saw the Williams of Valtteri Bottas damaged by a drain cover in the pit lane in FP3 was “unacceptable.”

The metal cover was thrown into the air and narrowly missed marshals on the pit wall, while Bottas was forced to miss the whole session while repairs were made.

“It was bargeboards, floor, sidepods, and then it put a hole through the radiator as well,” said Smedley.  “I think more than that it's the safety aspect – we can't have stuff like that. If that had come off the front wheel in a different way and come into the cockpit, then we would have had an entirely different accident. Equally important are the marshals. When you look at the replay, we dodged a bullet, definitely. It could have hit that marshal, it was very close.

“As far as the FIA is concerned, they do such a great job on safety. They've been on it all weekend, but you're going to come somewhere new and find these things. I guess it's just a lesson for us all to learn. Azerbaijan are putting on a great event up to now, from what we can see, and the track is really great. It's these little things that have dropped off. It's for us all to learn, for the teams, for the FIA, for the promoter, we all have to learn from this, because it's just not acceptable.”


Smedley added that the loss of track time was frustrating: “That becomes secondary when you think about the safety aspect, but from a performance point of view it's really disappointing. It's a brand new track and before they go into qualifying the guys have four hours of practice, and he's lost 25 percent of it through really what you have to say is no fault of our own. We couldn't have done anything to prevent that.”