McLaren has confirmed that Lewis Hamilton's penultimate-lap crash at last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix was caused by a wheel rim failure.
Hamilton looked set for a comfortable second place in the race, but crashed at the high-speed Renault corner when the rim failure caused his left-front tire to deflate and sent him across the gravel and into the tire wall. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said that the cause of the rim failure had yet to be determined, though, and that an investigation remains ongoing.
"The analysis of the part came back yesterday [Monday]... We had Bridgestone here," Whitmarsh said. "As we said at the time, we did not believe that the deflation was caused by a puncture or a tire failure in that all the evidence told us that the rim failed, which caused the deflation.
"The rim failure is being investigated. It could be debris-related, it could be that a lack of tightness of the wheel nut allowed some flexing. What we know is that the rim failed – probably a human error somewhere in the process to cause it – and that led to the deflation and the accident."
Hamilton's crash left him sixth in the World Championship, 21 points behind his championship-leading McLaren teammate Jenson Button.