McLaren fined for unsafe release with Vandoorne’s car

5000 euro penalty for loose wheel

Chinese Grand Prix – McLaren have been given a 5000 euro fine for sending Stoffel Vandoorne out on track with a loose wheel during the second practice session.

The Belgian driver wrapped up the second session with P14, having been forced to withdraw during the session due to being sent out on track with a loose rear wheel.

“After the pit-stop I left the box and I didn’t feel that there was anything wrong straight away. It was only as I turned left into Turn Three that I felt something happen, and when I looked in the mirror I could see that the right rear wheel was wobbly, so I immediately parked the car as a safety precaution. At the moment we’re still investigating, so it’s a bit too early to say what caused it.”

The race stewards investigated the incident, and have handed McLaren a 5000 euro fine for sending the car out in an unsafe condition. It’s the third successive race weekend where these circumstances have occurred. Haas suffered a double retirement in Australia when their two drivers were both sent out on track during the race with loose wheels, while Kimi Raikkonen had a catastrophic pitstop in Bahrain that resulted in the car being released prematurely and causing injuries to a Ferrari team mechanic.

Vandoorne had been due to concentrate on longer run pace during the afternoon session before his incident, and he said that Friday, in general, hadn’t really gone to plan:

“It’s not been the smoothest Friday for us. We had a few problems in FP1, and FP2 wasn’t perfect either with the issue with the pit-stop, but I did feel a lot more confident in the car this afternoon. In general, we’ve learned a lot again and FP2 was a much better session. The most positive thing from today, as we’ve learned over the last couple of weekends, is that our race pace looks promising and there’s a lot of effort going into our race preparation. Our qualifying performance we still need to work on a bit and understand a few things, but generally I feel okay.

“There’s plenty to play with here – the weather might look a bit tricky tomorrow and we’ll have a few different possibilities in terms of allocating tyres, but I think we have everything we need. There is quite a big difference between the Prime and the Option tyres as they behave quite differently so it will make things pretty interesting. We’re prepared and we know what we want for the race, so we should be in a strong position. It was also quite windy today and I think everyone was affected by it, but generally we had no major issues.”

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Thomas Maher

Co-owner, Chief Editor and a journalist for - Ireland's only accredited F1 & Formula E website.

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