Unsafe releases 'looking less and less like a coincidence' - Whiting

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FIA race director Charlie Whiting is casting a suspicious eye on the two high profile 'unsafe releases' which have occurred this season, in Melbourne and in Bahrain.

After a double pitstop blunder in Australia saw both Haas drivers rejoin the race with a loose rear wheel only to retire a few hundred yards up the road, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was the subject of an unsafe release at Sakhir last Sunday.

The mishap not only led to his demise, but also inflicted injury on a Scuderia who was sent tumbling with a broken leg as the Finn accelerated away prematurely.

It hasn't been lost on Whiting that both incidents involved teams - Haas and Ferrari - using the same rear wheel components.

"It’s looking like less and less like a coincidence but the two incidences in Melbourne were quite clearly wheelgun operator error," said Whiting.

"They cross threaded the nuts and thought it was tight, came off and then realised a little too late it wasn’t.

"[With the incident in Bahrain], the guy hadn’t even taken the wheel off, which is slightly perplexing."

Whiting says that wheelguns are at the center of the FIA's investigation to determine what went wrong and how to prevent any repeat of the problem.

"Alonso lost a wheel in testing if you remember, we went through it all with McLaren, they gave us a report in the week," said Whiting.

"We discussed it with the Technical Working Group to understand it all, to make sure everybody else realises these things can happen, everyone tries to learn from them.

"What happened was that the design of the nose piece that goes into the axel, that is the thing that holds the two-stage retention mechanism. But the way that is fixed into the axel was not quite strong enough so the wheel was a little bit loose, it worked itself loose because it had done four laps prior to that.

"So when the wheel started to tip a little bit, it put abnormal loads into the things that were holding the nose in and once the nose came out, there was no retention.

"So a lesson to be learnt there - that was shared with everyone in the Technical Working Group so that they can all look at that and make sure their designs aren’t similar.

"Of course they said ours won’t do that..."

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