The Williams F1 Team has been handed a fine after Pastor Maldonado lost a wheel during the first practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Grove based squad was deemed to have sent Maldonado out on track in an unsafe manner. His left-rear wheel worked loose as he approached the Spoon Curve, spinning onto the run-off area and exiting the session.
Stewards fined the team €60,000 for the unsafe release and claimed that they had allowed a “serious safety issue” to take place.
A statement by the Stewards said: “Examination of the parts concerned revealed that the wheel fastener had not been completely fastened, thus not engaging the first retaining plunger. This is a breach of Article 23.12 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.
“The secondary retaining plunger failed to keep the wheel in place. This is a breach of Article 14.7 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations.”
Williams has assured stewards that “appropriate measures will be immediately implemented to ensure compliance.”
Maldonado’s day went from bad to worse in the second session after he crashed out at the challenging Degner Curve. Speaking about his tough day at the office he said: “It was a frustrating day today as I didn’t get the amount of time on track that I would have liked. My FP1 session ended early after a problem with my left-rear tyre, and at the beginning of FP2 I was struggling for grip and lost the back end of the car and went off the circuit which ended my running.”
Team-mate Valtteri Bottas also commented on his day, saying: “There are still some balance issues with the car and the strong winds today made it feel more inconsistent. We are struggling to get the most out of the soft tyres when the track conditions are improving, and relative to the other cars I would say that our pace is similar to where we were in Korea.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic