F1 Belgian Grand Prix 2015: Close call for Nico Rosberg after tyre failure at high speed

German had led Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 0.2sec in the morning and extended that to 0.3sec in the afternoon

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The Independent Online

Nico Rosberg said only luck prevented him from crashing into a tyre wall after he suffered a high-speed tyre failure in practice for the Belgian Grand Prix here on Friday.

The German had led Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 0.2sec in the morning and extended that to 0.3sec in the afternoon before the right rear Pirelli tyre on his car exploded as he was approaching the 190 mph Blanchimont corner.

The tyre had begun to delaminate earlier in the lap, leading to speculation that it might have sustained damaged striking the kerb on the exit to the Eau Rouge corner. Rosberg’s car slid wildly out of control but came to rest without hitting anything.

“Unfortunately it wasn’t down to my skill,” he said. “It was just luck that I stayed out of the tyre wall. It was quite a shock. Suddenly at 190 mph to lose control…”

Coincidentally, and with no suggestion that Mercedes had transgressed, race director Charlie Whiting had earlier issued a technical directive reminding teams to adhere to tyre usage parameters introduced after the explosive failures at Silverstone during the 2013 British GP.

After the session had been stopped for 10 minutes while the track was cleaned, Swede Marcus Ericsson crashed his Sauber into the tyre wall at the Pouhon corner. Like Rosberg, he was unharmed.

It was another disappointing outing for McLaren. Despite using Honda’s latest power unit, Jenson Button could manage only 17th place, just ahead of team-mate Fernando Alonso. Farcically, they have been given 25 and 30 grid place penalties respectively for using new power units and associated components, though in practice they will simply start from the back.

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