The Williams F1 team has been hit with a 60,000 Euro fine after Pastor Maldonado's left-rear wheel fell off in opening practice for the Japanese Grand Prix on Friday.

A statement from the stewards read:

"Examination of the parts concerned revealed that the wheel fastener had not been completely fastened, thus not engaging the first retaining plunger.

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"This is a breach of article 23.12 of the FIA Formula 1 sporting regulations. The second retaining plunger [also] failed to keep the wheel in place. This is a breach of article 14.7 of the FIA Formula 1 technical regulations."

"This is regarded as a serious safety issue," the stewards added. "The team has assured the Stewards that the appropriate measures will be immediately implemented to ensure compliance."

Meanwhile, Maldonado suffered more woes in the second practice session at Suzuka too, when he went wide at Degner 2 and hit the barriers.

In total he did only 12 laps in FP1 and only 6 in FP2, finishing the day 18th on the combined times, one place behind team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, who reported 'balance issues' with his FW35.

"It was a frustrating day today as I didn't get the amount of time on track that I would have liked," the Venezuelan lamented. "My FP1 session ended early after a problem with my left-rear tyre, and at the beginning of FP2 I was struggling for grip and lost the back end of the car and went off the circuit which ended my running.

"Tomorrow is another day though and FP3 will give us a chance to improve the set-up based on what we learnt today and get some low fuel running in to optimise our car for qualifying, which will be important as overtaking here can be difficult."

"We didn't complete our programme with Pastor as he ran wide hitting the barrier during his first run [in FP2]," commented Williams chief race engineer, Xevi Pujolar.

"We also had to cut his FP1 session slightly short after he lost his left-rear wheel out on track. The team are currently investigating this. There is still work to do ahead of tomorrow to improve our overall pace and consistency."