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.
Sunday’s United States Grand Prix could go down as a memorable race in Formula 1 history as both Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes bid to clinch their fourth world championships (live on NBC and NBC Sports app from 2pm ET).
Hamilton gave his chances of wrapping up the drivers’ title and re-claiming the crown he lost to Nico Rosberg in 2016 a world of good by charging to pole position on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas.
However, with chief rival Sebastian Vettel starting second for Ferrari and a 16-point swing required, it seems likely that the title race could continue to next weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Nevertheless, here are the permutations for Lewis Hamilton to win his fourth F1 world title on Sunday in Austin, Texas.
- If Lewis Hamilton wins the race (25 points) and Sebastian Vettel finishes sixth or lower (maximum eight points), he is world champion.
- If Hamilton finishes second (18 points), Sebastian Vettel finishes ninth or lower (maximum two points), and Valtteri Bottas does not win the race, he is world champion.
While Hamilton’s coronation seems likely to be postponed until the next race in Mexico, Mercedes looks nailed-on to wrap up its fourth consecutive constructors’ championship in Sunday’s USGP.
The German marque currently leads Ferrari by 145 points in the teams’ standings, and requires a lead of 129 after the race to clinch the crown.
As a result, a double top-four finish from Hamilton and Bottas would be enough for Mercedes to wrap up the title, regardless of how Ferrari fares.
The success would see Mercedes become just the fourth team in F1 history take four straight constructors’ titles, following Red Bull (2010 to 2013), Ferrari (1999 to 2004) and McLaren (1988 to 1991).
The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET on Sunday.