Following two separate tyre blowouts for Felipe Massa during FP1 on Friday, Williams have confirmed the cause of the failures was due to brake duct changes they had made specifically for the Chinese Grand Prix.
The Oxfordshire based squad immediately got investigations underway after the two rear tyre deflations for the Brazilian brought about cause for concern in the first practice session of the weekend. They were able to quickly establish however that it was the tyre rims that were to blame, which were getting broken due to rubbing from the brake ducts.
Speaking to motorsport.com, Williams Technical Chief, Pat Symonds said: “The wheel rims failed because of the way we’d set up the whole of the back end – more brake ducts actually.”
“It wasn’t an easy one to see what had happened but we did figure it out and fixed it. Once we realised what it was, it was actually quite easy.”
“The ducts were the same as Bahrain essentially, but there was a very minor change.”
It was a relief to driver Felipe Massa, who was pleased to know the squad had been quickly able to find the root cause, so he could continue with his race weekend preparations without having to worry whether the issue would return. The Brazilian told motorsport.com, “I think if you don’t know exactly what the problem is then it can affect you, as you don’t know if the tyre will blow or not. But I think when the team understand the problem that is the most important thing. So I trust and I am just trying to push as hard as I can.”
During FP2, Massa was able to make up for lost time, completing 34 laps without further issue, and is content that he and the team will be ready for all scenario’s, come tomorrow and race day.