Whitmarsh blames Hamilton puncture on debris UPDATE McLaren has confirmed that a left-front wheel rim failure was the reason for Lewis Hamilton's penultimate lap retirement from Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, meaning the Englishman retired because of an almost identical problem to the one which beset team-mate Heikki Kovalainen at the same race two years ago.
With Kovalainen's failure having occurred at the worst possible place on the Barcelona circuit, Campsa curve, Hamilton was able to lose some speed in the Turn 3 run-off area before hitting the barriers; the 2008 Champion was running in second place when the issue ended his afternoon less than two laps early. The analysis of the part came back yesterday," McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh explained in a Vodafone telephone conference on Tuesday, confirming that tyre supplier Bridgestone has conducted a detailed analysis to verify that a puncture was not the cause of the off.
"As I said at the time, we did not believe that the deflation was caused by a puncture or a tyre failure; all the evidence told us that the rim had failed, which caused the deflation, and that rim failure is now being investigated."
Although the exact root of the failure is yet to be discovered, Whitmarsh added that either debris picked up from the circuit or a loosening wheel nut are likely causes.
05/09/10 Martin Whitmarsh believes Lewis Hamilton's penultimate-lap blow-out during the Spanish GP was the consequence of debris rather than a tired tire.
Hamilton had seemed poised to confound the pre-race expectation of a walkover by splitting the two Red Bulls by taking second when he crashed out with a front-left puncture with just two laps remaining.
Insult is likely to be added to injury by the suggestion that Hamilton was the architect of his own downfall. The Englishman is considered to be particularly demanding on his tires because of his aggressive driving style and his tire blew after almost fifty lap of pounding. zzzz
However, Whitmarsh's initial judgment was that Hamilton had simply been waylaid by bad luck.
"It's always difficult to say without a full examination but it was probably caused by debris in the rim causing a deflation. There were a lot of things going on today on the track.
"We were monitoring the tires during the race and they were in good shape."
Hamilton himself was understandably disappointed after being denied an outstanding result that would have propelled him into second place in the standings.
"It was quite a good race for me. I had really good fun out there," he said.
"It's nice to take a step forward and split the Red Bulls, which would have been perfect for the team. But these things happen.
"I don't know what it was. I guess we'll find out, but there's many more races to go.
"I was just cruising to the finish line and it was great points for me, but then I blew a tire. That's motor-racing." Planet F1