By Alan Baldwin
LE CASTELLET, France (Reuters) - Force India have been fined 100,000 euros ($116,550), with 85,000 of the total suspended for a year, after a rear wheel flew off Sergio Perez's Formula One car at speed in French Grand Prix practice.
The team were also told by stewards on Saturday to investigate their assembly and quality control procedures to ensure such a potentially dangerous accident did not happen again.
Stewards said in a statement that the problem had been caused by an assembly fault rather than any incorrect or incomplete fitment of the wheel.
They also cleared the left rear-wheel gun operator of blame and agreed that neither the team nor the driver had any advance warning that there was a problem.
"It would be unreasonable to infer that the team did not take 'appropriate action' to stop the car because it had no way of knowing of the problem," they said in a statement.
"Accordingly, and consistent with previous decisions this year, the stewards decided that the grid-place penalty that 'may' be imposed... would not be applied."
However they also noted that it was the third such incident involving the team in the past two years and the second this season.
"Hence the usual penalty has been significantly increased," they said, adding that they hoped the size of the fine would act as a deterrent. The suspended 85,000 euros will be payable if there is a repeat in the next 12 months.
Force India, co-owned by troubled Indian businessman Vijay Mallya, have one of the sport's smallest budgets and had cash-flow problems earlier in the year, making the sanction particularly painful.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Fallon)