The Sahara Force India F1 Team has been handed a €5,000 fine for an unsafe release after Sergio Pérez was allowed to leave the pit lane with an incorrectly fitted front left tyre during second practice for the Spanish Grand Prix on Friday.
The Mexican was released from the pits with a cross threaded wheel nut and stopped on track at turn nine to cause the second virtual safety car period of the session, with Pérez and a Force India representative being summoned to the stewards post-session to explain what happened.
“Unusually, the wheel clamped to the car and it was not immediately apparent that the wheel was not fully fitted,” read a statement from the FIA stewards.
“The Stewards had the Technical Delegate inspect the car, and his conclusion agreed with the team’s that although the wheel clamped, the wheel nut was cross threaded.
“The driver stopped the car in a safe manner as soon as the above became apparent to him. And while there was some confusion on the radio, the team gave appropriate instructions as soon as they realised the issue, which was not apparent until just before Turn 9.
“Consistent with previous decisions of a similar nature, the Stewards decided that the grid place penalty would not be applied as all appropriate measures were taken, and in particular it was not obvious that the car was unsafe when it was released.
“Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of the team to take all measures to ensure that the wheel is fully fitted and accordingly, the Stewards fine the team €5,000.”
Pérez had finished thirteenth fastest in the morning session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya before improving to tenth in the afternoon before his tyre problem, with the Mexican feeling a lot of progress had been made throughout the day in Spain.
“I think we’ve made a lot of progress throughout the day,” said Pérez. “We have some good information and we have learned about the new parts on the car; we have made a step forward.
“The balance is still not ideal so there is the potential to find more performance tomorrow. The track was very green this morning, but it improved this afternoon even though it was very windy.”