He was unharmed but the session, just 10 minutes old, was hastily red-flagged.
In another freaky twist, the mobile crane carrying the Williams back to the pits struck the underside of a sponsor hoarding spanning the Baku street circuit.
"I think that when you send a vehicle out on a race track that you should have the understanding that your auto is not going to be damaged by that race track in that way", an angered Williams told Autosport.
"It will be interesting, and I'm going there with a mindset that I've got to try and improve my previous years' performance.
The engine turned off, it's ruined the floor and the chassis could be ruined".
Russell's vehicle was lifted on to a low-loader after he had safely got out of it, unhurt, so the damage could be assessed back in the Williams garage.
"It was just on the normal racing line and has ruined my session". He was unhurt, but with more than 300 similar drain covers around the circuit, the race stewards elected to abandon the session to ensure they were all welded down in position. Team principal Guenther Steiner claimed the damage bill totaled £500,000 ($645,000), and Haas was able to recover money via an insurance claim against the Sepang circuit. Formula 2's qualifying session did not start as scheduled at 3pm local time, but second practice is still due to go ahead after the necessary checks have taken place. "It's not what we need at this stage". "That's just not acceptable".
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Unlike Monaco's street circuit, the drain covers in Baku are bolted down rather than welded down, and FIA race director Michael Masi told Sky F1 that a mount underneath the offending cover had "failed".
The incident subsequently took a weird turn when the recovery vehicle struck a bridge on its way back to the pits and began dousing its cargo in what appeared to be hydraulic fluid.
"It's clearly not what we want and it's not what you expect from a Formula 1 track".
The cover appeared to have been loosened by Charles Leclerc's Ferrari.
Race officials made a decision to end the session as track repairs were carried out, the F1 site reported.
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton also saw the lighter side of the incident, saying the cancelled session gave him more time to catch up on Game of Thrones, which he has recently been binge-watching in time for the series finale.