Williams endured a bittersweet Friday in preparation for this weekend’s Indian Grand Prix, as the Grove-based outfit were once again struck with wheel-related issues during the second practice session. Pastor Maldonado’s front-right wheel nut worked its way loose, therefore prematurely ending the Venezuelan’s session.
With Formula 1 rookie Valtteri Bottas in particular eager to take to the Buddh International Circuit in a bid to learn the track, it was a frenetic day of practice for the Williams outfit. So far this season they have only managed to secure one World Championship point at the hands of Pastor Maldonado, in what has been a highly frustrating season for the Grove-based outfit. Last time out in preparation for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, Pastor Maldonado’s left-rear wheel worked its way loose and perilously flew off of his car at the Spoon Curve.
The incident in question prematurely ended the Venezuelan’s session at the time, and later landed the outfit with a hefty €60,000 fine from the sport’s governing body the FIA. This weekend Williams have once again been at the centre of attention due to wheel-related issues, after a wheel-nut on the front-right wheel of Pastor Maldonado’s car flew off. Luckily the wheel managed to remain on the car, despite kicking up sparks and eventually developing a puncture before the Venezuelan driver was instructed to pull over at the side of the track.
Despite a premature conclusion to the second practice session for Pastor Maldonado in worrying circumstances, Williams still managed to complete a productive day of track action around New Delhi’s Buddh International Circuit. Valtteri Bottas was quick to learn the track, as the team completed a whole host of tasks including overall set-up work, tyre evaluation and long fuel race simulations. However, the cause for Pastor Maldonado’s wheel-nut issue is still unclear, as the team continue to investigate as work at the track continues into the evening.
“We completed some aerodynamic tests on both cars during FP1 and overall the drivers happy were happy with the car.” Explained the team’s Chief Race Engineer, Xevi Pujolar, “As always we see understeer at this circuit so we continued to make changes to the set-up as the track conditions improved throughout the day. Unfortunately we had to cut Pastor [Maldonado’s] run short as we had a problem with the front-right wheel nut following a pitstop. We are still investigating what happened. Overall the car balance looks better at this circuit, but we need to try to extract a bit more performance ahead of qualifying.”
Although Pastor Maldonado enjoyed a relatively productive two practice sessions, despite his wheel-nut issue, the 28-year-old is still not expecting anything greatly different from the last few race weekends in Japan and Korea. In recent races the Williams duo have continued to battle within the sport’s incredibly competitive midfield section, along with the likes of Toro Rosso and Force India. With only four races left in the season, Pastor Maldonado would undoubtedly be eager to collect a few more points for both himself and Williams.
“We had a good first session this morning completing all planned runs.” Said Pastor Maldonado, who has once again been linked with a move away from Williams in recent days, “FP2 was also quite good as we were working on the car, trying to help the balance and improve the speed. We are not expecting things to be much different to the previous few races. In the race simulation laps, the front-right felt a bit loose, so I stopped the car. The team will now investigate this issue further.”
With only one point scored this season, Williams currently sit 9th in the Constructors’ Championship, only just ahead of Marussia and Caterham who have yet to score their maiden points in Formula 1. With Toro Rosso 30 points ahead of them in the Constructors’ Championship, they look set to remain in 9th position regardless of whether they manage to pick up several more points in the remaining four races.
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