Pirelli blame debris for Massa’s punctures

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Formula One’s official tire supplier Pirelli believe Felipe Massa’s punctures during the Bahrain Grand Prix were caused by debris.

Massa was forced to make extra pit stops on lap 17 and 36 during yesterday’s race after suffering right-rear tire failures.

“Looking at the tires the initial analysis is that the first one had a very small cut in the top of the tire,” said Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery, adding the likely cause was “parts from another car”.

“The second tire had a big cut in the sidewall, very aggressive,” he added. “There were no reports of contact with Felipe so we still need to talk with Ferrari about what happened but as we say, initially, two very big cuts for the tire.”

Massa’s two problems left him 15th in the race, ending his 13-race streak of consecutive top ten points finishes.

“I was really unlucky in this race and even if it’s true that many things can happen in this sport, I can’t find an explanation for why so many of them have to be negative,” bemoaned Massa after the race. He added he’d experienced understeer during the race but did not believe it was related to his tire failures.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.