Force India has been hit with a €100,000 fine ($116,500) — of which €85,000 ($99,000) is suspended for 12 months — for the incident in which Sergio Perez lost a wheel at high speed during practice for the French Grand Prix.
On Friday, Perez was exiting the flat-out Turn 7 at the start of the Mistral Straight when his left-rear wheel detached and was sent rolling down the straight at high speed, bringing FP2 to a halt. While the wheel stopped after hitting a barrier and did not cause any significant damage, the FIA and Force India carried out a thorough investigation into the error.
Nearly 24 hours after the incident occurred, the stewards confirmed that Force India would be handed a hefty financial penalty but opted against giving Perez a grid drop.
“The stewards view this incident as very serious and potentially dangerous because it involved a wheel coming off the car at high speed,” the FIA explained.
“The FIA Technical Delegate revised his original report on the possible cause of the incident and confirmed the team’s evidence to the stewards that the problem was not caused by incorrect or incomplete fitment of the wheel but rather by an assembly fault involving poor seating of three retaining screws on the retaining plate.
“The stewards are satisfied that the wheel gun operator made no error in fitting the wheel, that the witness line was visible and that his manual check of the security of the wheel was satisfactory.
“Likewise, the stewards are satisfied that neither the team nor the driver had any warning whatsoever that something was amiss, until the incident occurred. Therefore it would be unreasonable to infer that the team did not take ‘appropriate action’ to stop the car because it had no way of knowing of the problem.
“Accordingly and consistent with previous decisions this year, the stewards decided that the grid place penalty that ‘may’ be imposed … would not be applied.
“However it is noted that this is the third incident of this nature involving the team in the past two years and the second this year, and hence the usual penalty has been significantly increased. This fine represents the view of the stewards that the team needs to investigate its assembly and quality control procedures to ensure this type of potentially dangerous incident does not occur again, and believes the penalty is suitable and will also act as a deterrent in the future.”