Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin’s short Australian Grand Prix amounted quite literally to a load of rubbish after the Russian’s car was forced into retirement by a flying… sandwich bag!
The rookie’s maiden Grand Prix was over after just five laps when he led himself down the escape road at Turn 13 after a brake failure.
Later, an initial diagnosis of the issue led to the conclusion that a large plastic bag had likely been the culprit of Sirotkin’s unexpected demise.
“You would not believe what happened – it was a plastic sandwich bag, which went into the rear-right brake duct,” said the disappointed driver.
“We still have a piece of the bag in our bodywork. Yes, that’s how exciting it is. It was a big bag, a big sandwich bag.
“It was Lap 3 or Lap 4, and it made [the brakes] overheat massively. It caused massive temperature spikes and destroyed all of the brakes.
“Obviously at some point I lost the pedal completely. There is no wall or anything there, so lucky the car is still in one piece. But I lost the pedal and went completely straight. It was day over.”
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Williams technical director Paddy Lowe was still in the process of confirming the cause of his driver’s issue, but the sandwich bag scenario seemed highly plausible.
“It’s a theory at the moment. It’s not fully proven,” he said.
“We need to do some forensics on that. But we have residue of what looks like a melted plastic bag.
“Lance [Stroll] actually said he saw some plastic bags at Turn 1 very early in the race. We measure disc temperatures and that’s where we see them suddenly start to go through the roof, at exactly that part of the circuit. So that also corroborates.”
Sirotkin’s shortened day wreaked havoc on his ambitions to gain mileage, knowledge and experience.
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“Today I really hoped to do a nice clean race, just to learn and build some confidence,” said the 22-year-old F1 apprentice.
“It was something I was really looking forward to, in the morning I was really in the mood for a a good race.
“I mean, it’s really frustrating looking back at the weekend. I’m just trying to say it went like it went, it was really tough. But no one said it was going to be easy, no one said it would come like that.”
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