Sergio Perez, Force India, Paul Ricard, 2018

Force India avoids penalty for Perez’s lost wheel

2018 French Grand Prix

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Force India has explained why a wheel came off Sergio Perez’s car during practice for the French Grand Prix.

Perez’s car shed its left-rear wheel at turn seven after he left the pits during the second practice session. F1 teams are required to use wheel retaining devices to reduce the chance of cars losing wheels. Several teams have been penalised this year for sending cars out of the pits without having properly tightened the wheel nuts.

However Force India escaped a penalty for Perez’s lost wheel today after an inspection by FIA Formula 1 technical delegate Jo Bauer indicated the team had tightened the wheel properly. Bauer believes it subsequently worked loose because it had been tightened onto a piece of debris.

“Marks on the inner side of the wheel let [us] assume that there has been some sort of debris between the wheel nut and the axle shaft when the wheel was fitted to the car,” said Bauer in a statement. “This probably gave a wrong indication to the wheel operator that the wheel nut was properly torqued and tight. But only the first stage of the retention device was engaged at this point.”

Bauer added “the red line on the axle shaft, which is only visible when the wheel is properly fastened, could not be seen by the wheel operator.”

Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer said the team had tightened the nut on the wheel before releasing the car from the pits.

“It looks like one of the retaining bolts in one of the plates within the wheel worked its way loose. That meant when the wheel clamped up it wasn’t really on a true surface.

“We just have to make sure that we check our wheels, make sure all those bolts are in place.”

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6 comments on “Force India avoids penalty for Perez’s lost wheel”

  1. i am not a fan of penaltys, but they obviously missed the red line indicator and as a result the wheel came loose.
    A fault by the team.

    1. Not a fan of these penalties either, but why have a red line if you don’t have to use it?

      1. johntodiffer
        23rd June 2018, 3:17

        Is the line only visible once the gun comes off – at which point the car is pretty much already moving.

  2. Think its strange that someone can highspeed loose a wheel having a high speed run away wheel, and others are fined stopping in the grass of the line directly in the pit or just after not unsafe to anybody but their own points.
    Penalty or not, should be the same for everyone.
    Force India are penalized somewhat less than others, like Ocon on Kimi recently or some of their internal wild chrashes.

  3. Andrew in Atlanta
    22nd June 2018, 21:58

    I’m not sure how anything FI has said relieves them of fault? They didn’t tighten the wheel not on correctly, they didn’t check the depth indicator, another part may have failed or not been tightened and there may have been debris in the threads. This wasn’t an in race stop so any of those checks could have been made but again they relied on the computer to tell them it was good when the computer has flawed data. This is getting insane with the blind trust in ONE indicator instead of actually looking at what’s in front of you. So far not impressed with modern mechanics and their ability to see a problem, it’s all diagnosis by computer sensor.

  4. Poking around for information about the circuit, I came across this video posted by Keith showing Alex Wurz’s crash in 2005 at the same circuit, which was coincidentally caused by an improperly mounted wheel as well.

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