Sauber F1 Team Faces €5000 Fine as Pitstop Troubles Persist in Australia

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Sauber F1
Sauber F1 (Credits: Motorsport)

Following wheelnut mishaps that caused significant delays for Valtteri Bottas in Bahrain and Zhou Guanyu in Jeddah, the team enacted what it termed as “containment” modifications ahead of the Melbourne Grand Prix, aiming to mitigate the risk of further incidents.

Despite these adjustments, Melbourne witnessed another setback for Bottas, resulting in a 28-second loss that dashed his hopes of securing points, notably when he was outpacing both Haas drivers on track.

The latest issue unfolded when a wheelnut dislodged from the gun during a pitstop, rolling into the fast lane and posing a potential hazard to other cars. This prompted a safety concern report to the FIA stewards.

Following an inquiry, the stewards concluded that “the team lost control of a wheelnut during a pitstop, causing a potentially dangerous condition in the pitlane during the race,” leading to a financial penalty.

Sauber F1
Sauber F1 (Credits: Motorsport)

Sauber racing director Xevi Pujolar refuted suggestions that the lost wheelnut stemmed from modifications made since Jeddah, asserting, “It shouldn’t have happened, but we didn’t do any modification that is causing that.” He emphasized the team’s confidence based on prior practice sessions.

Acknowledging the costly recurrence of the issue, Pujolar highlighted ongoing challenges, stating, “From the first race, we found some issues with pitstops, with the cross-thread. It’s something that we don’t find when we do free practice, or even during the winter, we didn’t find a problem.” Despite implementing containment measures, the issue persisted.

Pujolar emphasized the need for a comprehensive solution, recognizing that while interim measures were in place for the upcoming Suzuka race, a permanent fix would take longer to develop.

Zhou also encountered pitstop delays in Australia, attributed to gearbox adjustments as part of the driver procedure changes accompanying the “containment” measures.

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