US GP: Williams reject Pastor Maldonado sabotage claim

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer in Austin, Texas
Vettel pips Webber to US GP pole

Williams have rejected claims from their driver Pastor Maldonado that they sabotaged his car in United States Grand Prix qualifying.

Maldonado, who is leaving Williams at the end of the season, qualified 18th with team-mate Valtteri Bottas ninth.

Maldonado told Sky Sports: "I think someone is playing with the [tyre] pressure and temperatures in my car."

Deputy team principal Claire Williams said: "Never in Williams's history would we ever do anything like that."

Vettel's US Grand Prix pole lap

Maldonado's remarks were the latest in a series of critical comments the Venzuelan has made since arriving in Austin ahead of this race.

Earlier, he said he was "happy" to be leaving Williams and that "I think I delivered more to the team than they did for me."

Williams said: "Qualifying is a big adrenaline rush for drivers and so I'm not surprised by that people say things after these kind of situations.

"We will go back and talk to the engineers and find out what happened."

She insisted: "Within the team, behind closed doors, it's not acrimonious.

"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 beast."

Maldonado was eliminated out in the first part of the F1 three-part knock-out qualifying session in Austin. He was 1.5secs slower than Bottas, who was fastest overall.

Maldonado wins Spanish Grand Prix 2012

Bottas said Maldonado had "struggled a bit with the temperature in the tyres", adding that a good performance was "all about getting the 'option' [faster] tyres to work in the correct [operating] window".

Williams have no reason to deliberately slow down one of their cars. In fact, it would be nonsensical to do so.

The team are ninth in the constructors' championship with only one point with two races remaining, and the final one in Brazil has notoriously unpredictable weather.

That means scoring points is critical to them to prevent any possibility of being overtaken by either Marussia or Caterham, and slipping to 10th place overall, to the cost of several million pounds in prize money.

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