Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

On This Day: 11th May 2008 - Speculation on McLaren tyres // The Woking based team have long struggled with wheel issues

Published by Christine

In our continuing efforts to relive the good old days of F1, our On This Day series has taken an interesting turn. There was some discussion in the comments today about the possible reasons behind Lewis Hamilton's tyre failure during the Spanish Grand Prix last weekend.

Both Journeyer and Gavin compared it to Kovalainen's crash at the Circuit de Catalunya two years ago, with the incidents eerily similar. Back then, the crash saw Heikki plunged into the barriers at terrifying speeds. Thankfully he was unharmed, and was fit to race in Turkey after only a mild concussion. After much speculation, McLaren confirmed the reason for the tyre failure was a back to basics problem - in the factory, an extra layer of lacquer had been applied:

It has been established that, owing to a process fault during manufacture, the outer clamp surface of the wheel was given a clear lacquer coating. As a consequence of this fault, the clamp load that attached the wheel was not to specification.

The reason we're bringing this up today? It was exactly two years ago on this very afternoon that we were pondering exactly what that meant. Mr C was trying to fathom the problem, as it seems like quite a bizarre issue to have. Still, McLaren were relatively convincing and they put some processes in place to stop anything like this happening again.

And yet almost precisely two years on, McLaren suffered a tyre failure at the exact same circuit, on the exact same area of the car - the front left wheel. This time round, McLaren have said:

The rim failure is being investigated. It could be debris-related, it could be that a lack of tightness of the wheelnut allowed some flexing. What we know is that the rim failed, probably a human error somewhere in the process to cause it, and that led to the deflation and the accident.

So, it would appear the two incidents are not the same, but even so, they kind of are. If anyone accuses F1 of simply being cars going round in circles, how could we deny it?