The Williams F1 Team has had €60,000 stripped from its accounts, courtesy of a fine by the FIA Stewards after Pastor Maldonado’s left-rear wheel fell off during yesterday’s opening practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Venezuelan driver was travelling through the Spoon Curve when his wheel came loose and bounced into the outside gravel trap, forcing last year’s Spanish Grand Prix winner to pull off the circuit and end his session early.
Officials from the Grove team were summoned to the FIA Stewards’ room to explain the incident. After examining the available evidence, the officials hit the team with the hefty fine.
“Examination of the parts concerned revealed that the wheel fastener had not been completely fastened, thus not engaging the first retaining plunger,” a review statement reads.
“This is a breach of Article 23.12 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.
“[In addition] 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. This is regarded as a serious safety issue. The team has assured the stewards that the appropriate measures will be immediately implemented to ensure compliance.”
All teams have had to use double wheel retention systems since last month’s Singapore Grand Prix, with the rules clampdown coming in the wake of Mark Webber’s pit lane incident at the Nürburgring, where one of his wheels came lose a struck a cameraman.
The fine – which amount to €30,000 for each offence – capped off a trying opening day’s running for the team. Following his stoppage in the opening practice session, Maldonado slid into the Degner barriers in the early minutes of the afternoon’s practice session.