Shanghai: Both wheels flew off Sebastien Buemi’s Toro Rosso in a seemingly spontaneous blow-up in Friday’s practice for the Chinese Grand Prix that left the driver beached but not bruised.
The wheels hurtled over the safety fence at the Formula One track and Buemi’s car veered helplessly off the track and into the gravel, where it ground to a halt just next to the barrier.
“From inside the car, it was not a problem. I just lost both front wheels and then had to stop on the side,” he said.
“It was really wide, a lot of run-off. It looked maybe a bit spectacular but from inside the car it was not so big.”
The team blamed the accident on a part of the suspension that failed when the Swiss driver applied the brakes at the end of the long main straight in the first practice session.
The upright, which connects to the wheel, broke on the right side of the car’s front. The front left upright then buckled an instant later.
“We have to investigate. It could be that something went wrong from the material side, something went wrong from the machining,” team principal Franz Tost said.
“We will bring the broken parts home and then we will analyse what exactly was the reason for this incident,” Tost told reporters.
The team pulled its other driver, Jaime Alguersuari, from the first practice after Buemi’s accident as a precaution.
But technical director Giorgio Ascanelli said that the problem had been identified, allowing Alguersuari to run again in the second session, when he posted the eighth-fastest lap time.
Buemi looked on glumly as the mechanics were unable to rebuild his car in time for the second practice session. He will be on track for the final practice on Saturday and said he was not worried about a repeat of the accident.
“We changed all the car and it will be fine, so I won’t think about it anymore,” he said.