Bridgestone have examined the troublesome tyre that failed on Lewis Hamilton’s car during the Turkish Grand Prix and have stated they believe the failure was down to delamination caused by ‘chunking’.
Bridgestone are unclear as to the exact circumstances which led to the tyre failure and a detailed examination of the rubber is still being undertaken at it’s headquarters in Japan. Initial analysis on the tyre has shown that the failure was not caused by debris and preliminary findings point to tyre chunking being the problem. Chunking is when small bits of rubber, commonly referred to as ‘marbles’, get stuck to the tyre surface. This continues forming larger chunks which then harden on the tyre surface. These hardened pieces of rubber can then damage to tyre underneath which can in turn cause a tyre failure.
“It was delamination caused by excessive chunking,” Bridgestone’s director of motor sport Hirohide Hamashima explained. “Lewis was suffering from heavy understeer in Turn Eight and in order to correct that, he was turning the steering wheel a bit more. This produced the chunking which then 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.”
Bridgestone are as yet unclear as to the exact forces in place within the tyre which caused the failure and are reserving an official judgement for when they have a clearer picture of what happened. Several drivers experienced high levels of chunking on their tyres, similar to Hamilton, however the McLaren driver was the only one who suffered a failure – it is possible that Hamilton may have hit a kerb causing excessive forces in the tyre which pushed the tyre too far and caused the failure.