Following the Turkish Grand Prix last weekend, Bridgestone have been working hard to work out exactly what happened to Lewis Hamilton’s front-right tyre that caused it to delaminate and essentially fail. Watching the race, it appeared to just go while under braking for turn nine, but the experts at Bridgestone have taken the tyre back to their headquarters to check it thoroughly.
Upon initial inspection, the company have ruled out a puncture resulting from debris as a cause of the failure, and while they are still investigating the matter, Director of Motorsport Tyre Development – Hirohide Hamashima – has suggested that chunking may have led to its collapse.
Chunking, I hear you all question. Well, I hadn’t heard this word before today either, so you’re not alone. According to Bridgestone, chunking happens when a tyre picks up excessive marbles left around the side of the track. Marbles being, by the way, small pieces of rubber that have worn off the tyres and they tend collect into little balls around the outside of corners. You can even see a similar thing on the sides of motorways occasionally (not that I recommend a close inspection, of course!).
Anyway, if enough of these marbles collect on the face of the tyre, they can harden and cause damage underneath. It is thought that this could have happened to Lewis last Sunday, although Bridgestone are still working on it.
The ‘chunking’ got hardened as he braked for Turn Nine. It seems that there was an (unexplained) extra force applied to where the chunk was, and this delaminated the tyre. Hirohide Hamashima.
Apprently other drivers experienced chunking during the race, but only Hamilton’s McLaren suffered a failure of any kind. It is possible that Lewis locked slightly, or maybe hit a kerb a bit too hard. We’ll have to wait a bit longer for the final verdict, but Hamashima seemed quite confident this was the reason.