17 November 2013
United States Grand Prix: Williams denies Maldonado treachery claim
Pastor Maldonado hints at dirty tricks on his side of the Williams garage after failing to progress beyond the first round of qualifying in Austin.
Pastor Maldonado's veiled suggestion that his car had deliberately been targeted by team members has been vigorously denied by deputy team principal Claire Williams.
With rookie team-mate Valtteri Bottas making it through to the top ten shoot-out for the US Grand Prix, the Venezuelan's performance was put into even sharper relief and, having exited in the opening phase of qualifying, Maldonado appeared to hint at sabotage within the Williams camp as he sought to explain his misfortune.
Insisting that it was really a question for the team to answer, the mercurial former GP2 Series champion told Sky Sports that, in his opinion, 'somebody is playing with the pressure and the temperatures' of the tyres on his FW35. Maldonado, who has already made it clear that he is happy to be leaving Grove at the end of the year, then went on to pinpoint 'the guys that are working on the car' as the likely perpetrators.
Williams, however, refused to accept that the acrimony that is accompanying Maldonado's impending departure could have spilled over into wilful sabotage of the driver's on-track efforts.
"Qualifying is a big adrenaline rush for drivers, so I'm not surprised by [the heated claims] - people say things after these kind of situations," she also told Sky, "We will go back and talk to the engineers and find out what happened, but never in Williams' history would we ever do anything like that.”
The deputy team principal added that she had been surprised, however, by reports of the degree to which the two parties had fallen out since Maldonado announced that he was to leave the team which gave him his F1 break three seasons ago. The Venezuelan, and his PDVSA backing, is expected to wind up at either Lotus or Sauber in 2014.
"Within the team, behind closed doors, it's not acrimonious," Williams insisted, “There's not that kind of atmosphere in the team. Pastor has said he wants to go to another team and that's absolutely fine - this is F1, it's the nature of the business – but I don't see any sort of issue."
Unsurprisngly, the team's post-qualifying report made no direct mention of Maldonado's apparent belief that his engineers had turned against him, instead focusing on the couple of blocks he appeared to have received from other drivers while chasing a better time.
“We have struggled this weekend and today showed that,” an apparently calmer driver said, “The car doesn't feel right in terms of the tyres pressures or temperatures so we need to take a closer look at that. We got held up by a bit of traffic, which meant that we weren't able to get into Q2. We will try to do our best in the race tomorrow from the position we're in.”
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