Only two cars had clocked lap times in the opening minutes before Briton Russell, at high speed, ran over a cover, which had been lifted slightly by a previous vehicle, and suffered impact damage to the floor which sent debris across the circuit.
The Briton was unhurt but the dislodged cover smashed the underside of the Briton's auto, bringing out the red flags to stop the session after just 12 of 90 scheduled minutes.
To make matters worse, the crane of the recovery truck carrying Russell's auto back to the pits hit a bridge that spans the track.
Oil began to spew out of the crane and onto the Williams in what was labelled as being even potentially more unsafe.
Russell said: "There was a manhole cover and I got the biggest smack on my body".
The manhole cover reportedly became loose after Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc drove over the top of it prior to Russell reaching the point of the track. It also showed Red Bull driver Max Verstappen and the team's advisor Helmut Marko laughing in disbelief at the images. We were on the normal racing line and it's completely ruined our session.
"We need to see the exact amount of damage and exactly how much that costs putting it back through manufacturing".
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"It's clear from the data and what everyone can see that there is a lot of damage to the floor of the auto and who knows what else".
Russell won at the Baku street circuit previous year on his way to the Formula Two title but Kubica has never raced there before and Williams need all the track time they can get.
"We'll have to wait and see if that chassis is repairable or if we have to go to our third chassis". "That's not what Formula 1 tracks should be". These drain covers are supposed to be bolted down. "We'll be taking that up with race control".
The 6.003 km (3.73 mi) circuit has over 300 manhole covers on it, and although the problem is believed to be isolated to the single drain cover that failed, all of them will undergo further checks before the second practice session.
Russell's accident is not the first time a vehicle from the Williams team has suffered damage because of a loose drain cover on the Baku race course.
"How could they have not checked and sealed the drains?" the Briton asked on his Instagram feed.
"Oh well, just gives me extra time to catch up on Game of Thrones", he added.