Williams reject apparent accusation of sabotage from angry Pastor Maldonado
"Someone is playing with the pressure and temperatures" says Pastor
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 18/11/13 4:34pm
Williams have insisted the team would never sabotage one of their cars after Pastor Maldonado seemingly accused team members of dirty tricks on his under-performing FW35.
In a highly incendiary interview with Sky Sports F1 immediately after his elimination from Q1 for this weekend's United States GP, an emotional Maldonado told a stunned Natalie Pinkham: "I think in my car somebody is playing with the pressure and the temperatures."
Asked to clarify his apparent accusation, the South American, who announced earlier this week that he will be leaving the team at the end of the season, added: "You need to ask the team, the guys that are working on the car, it is quite clear."
After three years with the Grove outfit, Maldonado's exit is proving to be one of the most acrimonious divorces in F1's recent history, with the Venezuelan causing a considerable stir on Thursday when he declared: "I think I delivered more to the team than they did for me."
Williams, however, have refused to criticise their outgoing driver in public, with the team's Deputy Principal insisting that his outburst on Saturday was simply borne of frustration after being out-qualified by team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
"Qualifying is a big adrenaline rush for drivers and so I'm not surprised by that, people say things after these kind of situations," Claire Williams told Sky F1. "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."
Even before Maldonado's apparent accusations of dirty tricks within the Williams garage, rumours have abounded all weekend in Austin that relations between driver and team had reached an all-time low. But Williams insists that isn't the case.
"Within the team, behind closed doors, it's not acrimonious," she vowed. "There's not that kind of atmosphere in the team. I don't see any sort of issue. Pastor has said he wants to go to another team and that's absolutely fine - this is Formula 1, it's the nature of the business."
The fall-out from Maldonado's early exit overshadowed a rare glimmer of light for the team this season with Bottas, confirmed as Felipe Massa's team-mate for 2014, reaching the top-ten shoot-out for only the second time in his nascent F1 career. The young Finn will start Sunday's race from ninth and targeting his first points-scoring result in the sport.
Maldonado, meanwhile, is understood to be weighing up a choice between Sauber and Lotus for 2014.