After battling his way to an eighth-placed finish at his home race, Williams Racing driver Felipe Massa was subsequently excluded from the final results of the Brazilian Grand Prix over a tyre infringement.
As per the introduction of recent regulations at the Italian Grand Prix in September, a number of cars were randomly selected to have their tyre pressures and temperatures measured five minutes before the start of the race.
Massa’s right-rear tyre temperature was measured at 137°C – 27 degrees above the maximum permitted by the FIA technical regulations – while its tyre pressure was also 0.1psi above the 20.5psi allowable limit.
The measurements were referred to the FIA’s technical delegate, Jo Bauer, and on to the FIA Stewards who subsequently ruled that a breach of the regulations had occurred which led to Massa’s disqualification.
“The temperature of the right-rear tyre was measured in compliance with the FIA technical directive TD/029-15 (that relates to minimum tyre starting pressures and maximum tyre temperatures in blankets),” a statement reads.
“The team did not comply with the FIA Formula 1 technical and sporting regulations, FIA international sporting code and the instructions of the official tyre supplier in the event preview.”
Massa’s disqualification promoted Romain Groajean’s Lotus and Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso to eighth and ninth-placed finished, while Grosjean’s teammate Pastor Maldonado moved into tenth position to claim the final championship point on offer.
The Williams team immediately announced that it would appeal the Stewards’ ruling, arguing that its own data showed the tyre temperature to be well within the limits.
“We have two independent sensors, the first one is the PT1000 which sits inside the tyre blanket and tells us what the surface temperature is, and that one was always in compliance with the regulations,” said Williams performance chief Rob Smedley.
“In fact, the last time we could read it, when they took the set off to the grid, it was about 104 degrees. The next independent measure we have is from the car data (see photo). It shows the right rear tyre temperature on Massa’s car was 107 degrees.
“So we have two independent sensors, they both say we are in compliance with regulations and we have data to back it up.
“In addition, we have had independent correlation from our blanket temperatures sensors and car temperature sensors to the FIA guns, which Pirelli did for us after all the fuss with Mercedes in Italy [where race-winner Lewis Hamilton was found to be running tyres fractionally above the maximum allowable starting pressures, only to not be disqualified].”
Smedley added that the Williams team purchased identical sensors to those used by the FIA and conducted random checks throughout every Grand Prix weekend to measure tyre pressures and temperatures.
The team had “no idea” why its own measures were so different to those reported by the FIA, hence its intention to appeal.
Image via XPB Images