Felipe Massa, Williams, Interlagos, 2015

Massa disqualified from Brazilian Grand Prix

2015 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Felipe Massa has lost his eighth place in the Brazilian Grand Prix after one of his tyres was found to have exceeded the maximum tread temperature.

“On the grid the tread temperature and minimum tyre starting pressure of the right-hand side rear tyre was checked on car number 19 after the ‘five minutes’ signal was given,” the stewards explained.

“The temperature measured on the tread of the right hand side rear tyre of car number 19 was 137C, 27C above the maximum tread temperature of 110C allowed by the official tyre supplier. The
corresponding tyre pressure at 137C was 20.6psi, 0.1psi above the minimum starting pressure.”

The stewards ruled Massa’s car was therefore not in compliance with the technical regulations and excluded him from the result of the race. Williams were found to have broken article 12.5.1 of the technical regulations, article 3.2 of the sporting regulations and article 12.1.1.i of the international sporting code.

Williams has announced its intention to appeal the decision.

“To be honest I have no idea what’s happened,” Massa told reporters before the decision was announced. “Everything I did it was normal compared to other races – even my start was not good so anything was really different than what I had.”

“Even the pace I had I don’t believe anything was different.”

At Monza both Mercedes were cleared after a post-race investigation into a tyre pressure infringement.

See the revised race result and championship standings

2015 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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37 comments on “Massa disqualified from Brazilian Grand Prix”

  1. Patt Simons can’t last one season without testing the rules lol!

    1. Oooh burn! Though if I was you I probably would have directed that one at Pat Symonds

  2. Technicality, always frustrating! Put it together, Williams.

    1. Williams have been favoured this season but all of the sudden 2 penalties for them this weekend.

    2. Technicality, always frustrating!

      It’s not a technicality, it’s a breach of the technical regulations.

      As long as the FIA are certain that their measurement was accurate, it doesn’t matter what excuses Williams come up with, they needed a penalty, and exclusion is probably the right one. This could have led to an advantage for Massa (because his tyres would be warmer at the start, and pressures in race conditions lower), or a dangerous situation (because the temperature had damaged the tyre, or the low pressure caused a blow out). Even if neither is the case, it still breaches the technical regulations, just like the wing issues (Lotus last year?) or running below the minimum weight etc.

  3. So in fact his tyres were underinflated?

    1. I don’t get this:
      “The corresponding tyre pressure at 137C was 20.6 psi, 0.1 psi above the minimum starting pressure.””

      So his pressures were okay, the only infringement was exceeding the maximum tyre temperature?

      How can a driver be penalised for wrong tyre temperatures?

      1. @paeschli, the implication is that the tyres would have been under inflated if the tyre blanket temperature had been normal but, by overheating the tyres, the team were able to raise the pressure above the minimum tyre pressure.

        1. Makes sense, thanks!

        2. It’s pretty simple. They probably under inflated tyres to give tyre carcass more energy flow. More energy going trough the tyre ( side wall deflection ) leads to increase in temperature. Consequently, temperature of 137°C indicated that tyre was under inflated prior to reaching peak temp. However, under inflated tyre might be result of a puncture as well, loss of pressure due to damage or something similar. Grey area if you ask me.

      2. Solving for pressure using the gas law pressure/temperature relationship the pressure at 110°C would be 19.24 psi, well below the minimum pressure. Hence the penalty.

        1. the temperature on the surface of the tire is not the same as the temperature of the gas. Also, the composition of the gas plays in to the pressure/temperature relationship as well. Also, stick with the ‘ideal gas law’, because I doubt they use the ‘ideal gas’ in those tires.

    2. Yes – Massa’s tyre would have been under inflated if it had been within the normal temperature range (I think that it would have been around 19.2 psi at 110ºC). In those circumstances, I can see how it would be a lot harder for Williams to argue their way out of that penalty.

  4. But Merc got away with it?

    1. the FIA changed the way temperature and pressures were taken after Italy and the issues with Mercedes. Merc couldn’t be punished at that time because no clear protocol was really in place. That was rectified back in Singapore. Williams messed up.

    2. It’s almost like you haven’t read the linked article explaining why they were acquitted…

  5. As a Williams fan it’s getting harder to understand why these problems always seem to happen: if they want to become a top team, they need to eradicate these foibles.

    Just compounds a miserable weekend for Massa.

  6. Very poor performance from Massa this weekend, both from the driver and the team. If “everything was normal compared to other races” at this lackluster performance at his home GP then maybe its time Massa retired?

  7. Mark in Florida
    15th November 2015, 22:49

    If I am reading this right only one tire was out of compliance. So he would have ended up with a unbalanced car with three tires at higher pressures than the one in question. I am not a Massa fan but that was pretty harsh, a 10 place penalty would have been more fair but I don’t know the latitude that the stewards could use. Williams act like they have forgotten the basics required to be a great team. At times they look like Manor but with a bigger budget.

    1. I think the FIA only tested one tyre.

  8. More crap tyre problems, now we need special regulations to keep these tyres (not any prior tyres) temperature and pressure in a very narrow specific range. Change can’t come soon enough, but it can certainly come too late for me. I can remember when it was exciting just to watch F1 cars being driven as fast as the driver dared whether it was in company or far ahead, today however the drivers are driving as though competing in a time trial, rather than a race, just to avoid their tyres overheating or underheating. If time trials excite you I suggest you join your local car club and try it for yourself, no danger involved, public roads and speed limits being the norm.

    1. i agree, the whole situation with tyres the past few years has been a complete & utter joke!

      i get what pirelli were asked to do and don’t blame them for that, however the whole way they have gone about it with thermal degredation, tiny operating windows and creating tyres that need all these special rules just because the tyres may not be safe if teams push the boundaries a bit is nothing short of a farce!

      if pirelli can not meet whatever mandate they were given without the fia having to micromanage them then they should let somebody else come in & have a go!

      1. Yes! they are incapable of doing that. People continue to use the excuse that they were asked for more pit stops. Fine, nobody asked for these problems, punctures, blowouts, random failures (belgium), constant tyre cuts (according to @gt-racer). Changing rules to prevent drivers from getting hurt or exposing their poor tyres shows crap of a tyre company they are

    2. Thank god someone else posts their realization that it’s just a time trial now. It’s a time trial where the cars just encounter an obstacle on their way to their pre determined pit stop, delta time/trial time race end.

      “do i let him overtake?”
      These are things that should never be uttered by drivers because they are worried about their tyres. Pirelli is horrible, tyres lack grip, narrow temperature window anti-racing design. Where to mke 2-3 stops they have to nurse the tyres.
      Garbage!

    3. More crap tyre problems, now we need special regulations to keep these tyres (not any prior tyres) temperature and pressure in a very narrow specific range.

      Nope. It’s probably a problem with Williams’ tyre blankets. It has nothing to do with “crap tyre problems”, but a team (probably inadvertently) exceeding the maximum temperature allowed for heating the tyres. This is a breach of the technical regulations, no matter how good or bad the tyres are.

      I’m not saying I like the current tyres, but this has nothing to do with them in the way you say.

  9. Sensor fault in the tyre blanket? Then a quick bleed of pressure without investigating why the pressure was up. I wonder if other teams have a secondary test process? I saw Merc have a ‘pod’ they keep tyres in that they’re planning to use imminently. Shame for Massa anyway, at his home race.

  10. Williams had showed on his website that they have proof that FIA measurement was wrong, according to them they had 3 different measurements, all done by FIA certificated equipment that show the tyre was in the right temperature. Let’s see what happens.

    Just so weird that nothing happened to Mercedes in Italy. Once again the leading team is not punished. Did they make a new rule after that? Why do a different rule during the ongoing season? Same thing happened with the starting software, which could have made a minor change in the races, Mercedes didn’t have it so developed and Williams did (see start at Britain 2015), then this gets banned during the season.

    FIA is never punishing the bigger teams.

    1. I think the only thing that saved Mercedes in Monza was the fact that proper testing and measuring standards hadn’t been developed and given to the teams because the change of rules was rushed through post Spa.

      But like I said below, I really do think that this is a bad reading by the FIA and the ruling will be overturned

      1. “I think the only thing that saved Mercedes in Monza was the fact that proper testing and measuring standards hadn’t been developed”

        No what saved Mercedes was the fact that they had done nothing wrong.

  11. I think Williams will get away with this. I just read what Rob Smedley had to say and it does seem to be a bad reading from the FIA. Also, having the tyre heated to such a temperature would have destroyed the tyre. I believe Kimi had a similar situation earlier in the year where faulty blankets literally cooked the tyres. Also, that kind of overheating would have brought the tyre pressures much higher than just 0.1 PSI above the minimum limits.
    Williams multiple sensors tracking the temperatures and none of them read close to the FIA readings.

  12. So when they check a tire on the grid, how do they assure the inspection check doesn’t let any air leak out? I swear I lose about a half pound of PSI every time I check my tires because I can never get the gauge meter seated properly at first.

  13. Hasn’t FIA ruin the Sport enough?? Just stay away and use your brain ! Why spoil the fun ?! 1 tyre was 27c higher in temperature…. ok… so if they were to do it for an advantage, wouldn’t they do it for both rear tyres at least? And why didn’t they say so at the time? or check the other 3 tyres if they haven’t. This tyre pressure thing is really stupid. Let the team decide what pressure they want to use, if the tyre explode well, then they race is over right? Teams have no intention to blow up their tyres, so we dont need to regulate it. Let them race, give them more freedom to come up with ideas. Whats the point of regulating every team to do exactly the same thing ?? Look at what FIA have done to Formula-e. It’s a disgrace…. F1 is something special, its a grown man sport, we need freedom to do things we want in order to win, thats the whole point of it, not to mention that they didn’t even consider to abandon the in season testing ban. Small teams have no way that they can catch up. Fia is killing F1.

  14. Sigh. So the FIA found out BEFORE the start and then waited until the race was all over to DSQ the driver? Surely they could have told the team on the grid, could have requested them to up the pressure or put on another set or even ordered he started from the pitlane.

    The only reason to do it this way, is that they see a reasonable chance of the appeal succeeding and did not want to needlessly hurt Massa’s chances in the race? If so, its the same thinking as with the Mercedes penalty – just meant to establish what proper procedures are.

    Or was it just pleasing the viewers to let him run a completely inconsequencial race (because no matter where he finished, he would get DSQ – just imagine he would have made the podium).

    1. This was my thought as well. Why did it take over an hour to determine a penalty. If they are truly going to stand by their reading regardless of the potential absurdity of that high a reading, they obviously knew it was wrong right away on the grid. Why not tell the team immediately so that during the parade lap, he comes into the pits, changes tires and then starts from the pits. Yeah, that would hurt his race, but certainly not as badly as getting DQd at the end!

  15. I’m thinking FIA’s sensors had a fault here. Seriously, 137 C? That would cause extreme blistering in the opening stint. I also doubt that the tyre blankets can even heat the tyre up to that temperature (what would be the point; it’s like having an oven that would heat up to 500 C when you only need it at 250 C at most).

    1. good point there about the temperature band of tyre blankets

    2. From what little I can find on the temperature of tyre blankets, it seems they only heat the tyres to 80°C anyway; the remaining 20°C is added on track.

      Though that info is from a three-year-old article, and is therefore likely outdated.

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