Sauber hit with €5,000 fine after another pit stop blunder


In Sunday's Australian GP, for the third time in an equal number of races, the Sauber F1 team suffered another pitstop blunder, one that cost Valtteri Bottas dearly and that also resulted in a €5,000 fine for the Swiss outfit.

Pitstop woes have become a recurrent theme at the Hinwil squad, with a wheelnut malfunction undermining Bottas’ efforts in Bahrain earlier this month and then again in Saudi Arabia where Zhou Guanyu was on the receiving end of a disastrous glitch.

In Jeddah, Sauber team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi said the outfit intended to quickly get to the bottom of its issues and solve its predicament which appeared to be linked to the team’s hardware rather than to its execution.

But despite Sauber implementing additional checks and revised procedures to ensure that each wheelnut is properly secured, the underlying issue emerged once again in Melbourne and cost Bottas another disastrous 28-second stop.

As the Finn’s car was being serviced by its crew, a wheelnut popped out of the gun and rolled into the fast lane and thus potentially into the path of other cars, which inevitably caught the attention of the FIA stewards.

The latter’s investigation concluded that Sauber had “lost control of a wheelnut during a pitstop causing a potentially dangerous condition in the pitlane during the race”.

A €5,000 fine was duly imposed on the team, but while Sauber racing director Xevi Pujolar lamented the slip-up he insisted that it had not been caused by any changes made by the team since Jeddah.


“It shouldn't have happened, but we didn't do any modification that is causing that," he said, quoted by

"What we saw in the free practice and pitstop practice we were reasonably confident that actually today it should be OK."

Regardless of the reasons for its problems, they are costing Sauber dearly, according to Pujolar.

"From the first race, we found some issues with pitstops, with the cross-thread," he said.

"It's something that we don't find when we do free practice, or even during the winter, we didn't find a problem.

"But then every time we go into a race situation it becomes more critical. We took some containment this week, some small modifications. It's not robust enough, and we had one pitstop issue.

"As long as we have this issue, it becomes very difficult for us. It's not the problem with the crew, the crew are doing everything correctly.

"We've got a problem with the hardware, and we need just to make sure that we have got time to find that solution and the parts and we'll try to fix it for Suzuka."

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