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Wheel nut still stuck on Bottas' car

NEWS STORY
24/05/2021

It's a good job Valtteri Bottas climbed out of his car to retire from the Monaco Grand Prix, for the offending wheel nut is still stuck in place.

"Sitting in the car at the pit stop, I knew it was a slow one," said the Finn following yesterday's race, which witnessed his second DNF of the season, "and I was calculating Sainz getting past, then Norris, and when it got to 30 seconds, I couldn't believe it."

Well almost 24 hours later the offending wheel nut is still firmly stuck in place.

"If we don't quite get the pit stop gun cleanly on the nut then it can chip away at the driving faces of the nut, we call it machining a nut," explained James Allison.

"It's like when you take a screwdriver and don't get it squarely in the screw and you round off the face and then can't take the screw out as you haven't got the driving faces," he added.

"If the gun starts spinning and chipping off the driving faces of the wheel nut then in quite short order, given the violence and power of the gun, you just machine the nut down to a place where there's nothing left to grab a hold of.

"We didn't get the wheel off," he confirmed. "It'll have to be ground off, get a Dremel out and painfully slice through the remnants of the wheel nut, we'll do that back at the factory."

Editor Balfe had a somewhat similar experience at the weekend when a retaining screw fell out meaning his fridge door was in danger of falling off. Somehow, whilst keeping the door in place, finding the screw - and a magnetised screwdriver - not to mention keeping an inquisitive cat out of said fridge, the editor was able to get the screw back in. You have our assurance that no expletives were uttered during the course of the incident.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Monaco, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by F1 Yank, 02/06/2021 0:23

"Kenji, I very rarely disagree with you. Actually I think this is the first time but I am pretty sure you were being sarcastic. Stitch431 is right though! The wheel gun operator places the wheel nut gun on the nut as the car is pulling in and then activates when it comes to a stop. This is the only way they can perform 2.0 second pit stops."

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2. Posted by kenji, 29/05/2021 0:03

"@ Stitch431.....Really? I don't think that's remotely possible....."

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3. Posted by Stitch431, 27/05/2021 6:03

"Have you seen Red Bulls pit Stop? They have the wheel guns on them before! the car stops..."

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4. Posted by kenji, 27/05/2021 2:08

"@ Superbird 70....The possibility that the marks were inaccurately aligned would be very hard to believe. If the three other guys had no problems then that would lead one to think that the wheelnut was already cross threaded. As I said earlier, the likelihood that the application of a spinning gun onto a recalcitrant wheel nut seems to me as unlikely. The female endpiece would not engage and it would not 'machine' the faces of the nut as it failed to engage with same! A definitive analysis most likely will not be published."

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5. Posted by Great_white_shark, 26/05/2021 22:17

"Exactly, the other 3 wheelgun guys managed fine but they are older and more experienced. I think what Toto said was taken out of context by the media who typically go for clickbait and sensational quotes out of context. I have heard Toto say nobody was to blame and it was a series of unfortunate mistakes that all contributed to that result. People like to make it sound like Bottas is unfairly treated and he is not respected by the team but it is simply untrue. Toto and the team defend him regularly and it is not in Mercedes' culture to lay the blame on anyone. They will learn from this mistake and come back stronger"

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6. Posted by Superbird70, 26/05/2021 15:07

"Hmm, 3 of 4 Mercedes wheel men managed okay. Different marks?!??"

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7. Posted by kenji, 26/05/2021 1:49

"@ great_white_shark.. Possibly. Wolff threw Bottas under the bus in his comments and blamed him, in part, for missing his marks!! Nice one TOTO. I must say that I find it unlikely that the spinning gun would be able to centre itself with such accuracy whilst is motion as to machine off the nut splines. It's all academic now anyway."

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8. Posted by Great_white_shark, 25/05/2021 22:34

"It was not cross threaded as the wheels are put on the car without any rush before the race. The gun started spinning before it was fully engaged so it machined off the splines. The nuts get damaged fairly regularly but it is the first time I see it completely rounded off like this. Fair play to Bottas, he took a massive hit in the championship table but the first thing he did when he got out of the car was to go see the young mechanic to console him and make him feel better about himself. "

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9. Posted by Wokingchap, 25/05/2021 11:44

"Surely the Nut shouldn't be made from a 'soft' metal that can be 'machined' away like that. Seems odd to me but there must be a reason."

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10. Posted by kenji, 25/05/2021 0:01

"I'd be pretty sure that there are allowances for working tolerances to be taken into account. To expect mm perfect stops by the driver would be ridiculous. I would think that given the development of these guns and nuts and the relevant costs associated with same that something happened outside the frame. My best guess would be that the original fitment resulted is a crossed thread. The pitch of the thread would be minimal so as to allow a quick release and refit but by being so would also allow for a crossed thread to become easier to occur. Materials would also need to re examined as per steel or alloys used. Theoretically this should not happen but nothing is ever fail safe 100%."

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11. Posted by Editor, 24/05/2021 20:15

"@ Superbird70

And some WD40"

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12. Posted by Superbird70, 24/05/2021 19:44

"Mercedes may end up going back to the wheel knock-offs from their W196 . You just need a rubber mallet."

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13. Posted by F1 Yank, 24/05/2021 16:59

"All I can say is ouch!! The video of the pitstop was maddening especially seeing the metal fragments flying out from the wheel gun. I wonder what happened? Did the hub get so hot that it expanded too much? Or was the nut cross threaded from the original tires being mounted on the grid? Those guns and nuts have to be designed for a certain amount of slop during the pitstop. In other words the face of the gun doesn't "exactly" have to be flush with the hub face for it to do its job. Just my .02"

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14. Posted by Italian Job, 24/05/2021 14:05

"It's not what the words that you mutter when the cat (or dog) wants to get into the fridge (or the dishwasher to do a pre-wash), it's the feeling that is applied to those words. For example, "Oh dear, oh bless, oh bother" is acceptable in front of mother-in-law, a priest or a nun, but can be said with sooooo much feeeeeling!"

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