Williams faced major dramas in FP1 in China today after Felipe Massa suffered two left rear tyre failures in quick succession, the first having pitched him into a spectacular spin.
The team then sat out the remainder of the session while investigations indicated that the wheel rims had failed first, rather than the tyres themselves, as a result of contact with the brake duct. The issue was addressed over the lunch break and both cars ran without a repeat in FP2.
“We had a problem with the wheel rim and we made a modification and found the problem,” said Massa. “At least everything is okay now for the car to run without problems. That is positive. But then the day was not very positive, looking that we lost the first session and we ran in the second session – and it wasn’t easy to understand the feeling with the cars and the tyres, degradation was pretty high for everybody. We have another day and I hope we can be more competitive tomorrow.
“For sure you are always concerned when you see these things happen, you are always concerned. We had a problem on the wheel rims and we made a modification from one session to another session and the problem was solved, so that is important, and for sure it was not a very positive day because I lost one session.
“The second session I managed to do some laps but it would have been better to do a proper day running both sessions Tomorrow maybe the conditions will change, maybe rain, but we should be ready for everything.”
Williams technical chief Pat Symonds confirmed to this writer that the brake ducts were the source of the problem: “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, there was a very minor change.”