Kimi Raikkonen says Baku drain cover farce made F1 'look like amateurs'

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Kimi Raikkonen is a man of few words, but he had some harsh ones for Formula One after a chaotic opening day of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Just 13 minutes into Friday's on-track running, Williams driver George Russell's car was badly damaged by a loose drain cover on the Baku street circuit. The incident prompted immediate safety concerns and led to the cancellation of the session so the FIA could check the 6km circuit, which has over 300 drain covers scattered around it.

An FIA statement later put the incident down to a break on an underside mounting of the drain cover, which could not have been detected before the session. Raikkonen said F1 had no excuse for what had happened.

"Obviously it was far from ideal for everybody and we looked like amateurs here today," the 2007 world champion said on Friday evening. "It's up to the FIA to make sure the track is as best as possible.

"But it seems that every year, somewhere a drain cover comes loose or something flies off. They say they welded the drain covers but obviously that one was far from welded today. It's up to them to go and check them all, there's plenty of people here, but the same thing has happened before here."

The incident Raikkonen referred to happened to fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas during the 2016 race weekend, when his Williams was damaged by a pit-lane drain cover. Another incident occurred at the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix when one of Haas' F1 cars sustained £500,000 of damage, which the American team successfully claimed in compensation via the Sepang circuit's insurance policy.

Williams later confirmed Russell's car would undergo a chassis change, meaning it did not take part in FP2. The team is hoping to have Russell's car on track for FP3, the one-hour session held ahead of qualifying on Saturday.

The session robbed the teams of any significant running in FP1, meaning everyone was playing catch-up in FP2, which turned out to be stop-start affair.

Raikkonen added: "Luckily nobody got hurt, but it obviously destroyed everybody's day and, plus for the people who came here to watch the practice. It's far from ideal."