The first practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix was red-flagged twice after drivers experienced three left-rear tyre failures.
Felipe Massa suffered two separate left-rear tyre failures on his Williams, the first of which caused him to spin at turn six on his third lap of the track. The session was red-flagged so debris from Massa’s spin could be recovered.
The session resumed shortly afterwards and Massa returned to the circuit having switched from medium compound tyres to softs. But he immediately experienced a similar failure on his very next lap.
As Massa drove back slowly to the pits for the second time Kevin Magnussen also experienced a left-rear soft tyre failure on his Renault. The session was stopped for a second time and remained under red flags for over a quarter of an hour while the track was inspected.
Pirelli quickly announced that “investigations on both failures on Williams during FP1 show no sign of puncture” and that his air loss was “connected to technical trouble”. “Investigations on Renault still ongoing,” they added.
Jenson Button was told on the team radio that race director Charlie Whiting suspected Magnussen’s problem was also car related:
“Jenson actually new information from Charlie Whiting,” race engineer Tom Stallard told him. “It’s his opinion, although he’s not sure, is that the debris, Kevin’s debris, potentially came from Kevin’s own car. It may well have been a car problem rather than a circuit problem. We still believe we’re OK to run.”
The session was restarted with eight minutes remaining.