Home Formula 2 Double wheel gun trouble put Vesti out of contention at Zandvoort

Double wheel gun trouble put Vesti out of contention at Zandvoort

by Alejandro Alonso Lopez

Photo: Prema

Frederik Vesti had a Sunday to forget at Zandvoort after a wheel gun issue led to both of his rear wheels detaching from his car during the Formula 2 feature race.

The Prema driver was already enduring a difficult race after spinning round at the first corner on lap one and dropping to the back of the pack. However, he was still on course for a points finish in what was a chaotic race until he lost his two rear tyres, which weren’t properly fitted during the mandatory pit-stop.

This event marked a second scoreless Sunday in a row for the Mercedes junior, who had been unable to take the start of the feature race at Spa-Francorchamps after crashing out on his way to the grid.

“I started from P3 with no intention whatsoever to overtake into T1,” Vesti said about the beginning of the race. “I was very relaxed yet I managed to lock my rear tyres in the entry of the corner and spun. I need to stop making mistakes if I want to win this championship.

“After that, it was just trying to fight back. To be honest we were in a decent position and did a good job with the strategy to come back into the race. We double-stacked with the team and an issue with the wheel guns meant that both my rear wheels were not tight, so I lost them both when I got on track and had to retire.”

The stewards investigated the incident and handed Prema a 2000 euro fine.

Prema’s double stack pit-stops were prompted by Vesti’s main rival Theo Pourchaire crashing out of a net race lead, with a safety car deployed soon afterwards. It meant the wheel gun safety system didn’t have enough time to reset after Ollie Bearman’s stop. Therefore, the fact that neither of Vesti’s rear tyres were tightened properly was not detected and the car was released, resulting in them coming lose at turn four. 

F2 teams switched from pneumatic to electric wheel guns this year with the goal of improving safety in the pit-lane, as well as reducing cost and environmental impact. 

Explaining their decision to fine Prema, the stewards said: “The green light [on the wheel gun] indicating adequate torque on the wheel stays on for 20 seconds after use. During [Vesti]’s pit-stop the green light on the rear wheel guns can be seen to be on throughout the service.

“While the normal indicators of a successful wheel installation were not available to the team, the team also knew that the green light was meaningless under the circumstances. Given that fact, it is important to take extra care to be sure that the car is released in a safe condition.”

Vesti’s 12-point deficit to championship leader Theo Pourchaire remains unchanged heading into Monza next week after both retired. In fact, Victor Martins was the only driver in the top six in the standings coming into Zandvoort that scored points, a total of two.