A very angry and bitterly disappointed Pastor Maldonado said on television that his Williams F1 car had been sabotaged by an unspecified team member.
Maldonado is leaving Williams at the end of the season in one of the most hostile divorces seen in recent F1 history.
Talking live to Sky Sports F1, Maldonado said after Q1: “I never got 100% from the tires. Someone is playing with tire pressure and temperatures.”
When asked why his teammate, Valtteri Bottas was doing so well in comparison, Maldonado said “You have to ask the guys who are working on the car. It is quite clear.”
Moments later, Claire Williams has insisted the Williams team would never sabotage one of their cars.
The daughter of Sir Frank Williams refused to criticise their outgoing driver in public, insisting that his outburst on Saturday was simply borne of frustration after being out-qualified by teammate, Valtteri Bottas.
Two hours after accusing Williams of deliberately sabotaging his car in qualifying for the U.S. GP, it was a calmer Pastor Maldonado who faced the media in the Austin paddock.
"I drove for three years in the team and I never feel something like that," Maldonado insisted later on Saturday. "The car is nowhere, the car is undriveable and it's very clear on the on-boards and the data where and when I'm suffering on the track.
"The car was turning more to one side than the other," he told Sky Sports F1.