Williams have been fined for the second race in succession after a wheel nut came loose on Pastor Maldonado’s car during FP2 for the Indian Grand Prix today.
The nut came loose on the Venezuelan’s front-right wheel during the second session on Friday afternoon, eventually falling off the car and causing a puncture on the tire. Despite trying to make his way back to the pits, Maldonado was instructed to pull over just before pit entry thus ending his practice running.
A similar incident occurred at the Japanese Grand Prix two weeks ago, but the FIA opted not to give a more severe penalty despite the repeat offence, instead fining Williams €60,000 ($83,000).
The team did not dwell on the matter, merely stating that they had not found the cause of the problem yet.
“Unfortunately we had to cut Pastor’s run short as we had a problem with the front-right wheel nut following a pitstop,” chief engineer Xevi Pujolar explained. “We are still investigating what happened.”
Despite the incident, Maldonado appeared to be upbeat following an otherwise-productive day in India.
“We had a good first session this morning completing all planned runs,” he said. “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.”
Rumors surrounding the Venezuelan driver’s future have continued to circulate in India, with Lotus reportedly considering him as a replacement for the Ferrari-bound Kimi Raikkonen.
MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.
Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
- 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
- 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish
Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.
While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.
Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.
Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.
In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.