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.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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