Monday, 16 September 2019 06:47 GMT

Belgian GP: Rosberg unhurt after high speed blow-out at practice

(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Nico Rosberg admitted he was lucky to walk away unhurt after a spectacular high speed tyre blow-out during yesterday afternoon's second free practice session for this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.

The 30-year-old German lost control of his Mercedes when the right rear Pirelli tyre disintegrated at around 320 kph at the Blanchimont corner.

The session was red flagged and suspended while the car and debris were cleared from the spectacular and majestic, but challenging, circuit in the Ardennes forests.

Television replays showed clearly that the right rear tyre had suffered severe delamination before it exploded, sending Rosberg into a full spin in which he was fortunate not to hit the barriers.

"That was not a nice experience," said Rosberg, whose wife Vivian is expecting their first child at any time.

Kkeeping his trademark cool despite the accident Rosberg, who topped the timesheets, added: "A 360 degree spin at 320 kph, or 200 mph, is not something you expect at all.

"Luckily, I did not hit the wall....

"Unfortunately, it wasn't down to my skill. It was just luck that I stayed out of the wall.

"I didn't feel anything before, there was no warning. There will be a big analysis. I was feeling quick before then, comfortable."

On resumption after a brief suspension, Swede Marcus Ericsson lost control of his Sauber car and crashed heavily at the downhill Pouhon corner, a collision that produced the red flags again for a third time in the day.

Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado had set the pattern during opening practice in the morning when he hit the barriers at Malmedy. He also, like Ericsson, was unhurt.

Rosberg's accident resulted in his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton staying in his car in the pits while the team analysed the cause of Rosberg's tyre failure.

In both of the afternoon accidents, the drivers were saved from more serious damage and possible injuries by the big run-off areas built into the circuit.

Hamilton was unable to improve his time and finished the session second fastest behind Rosberg, as he had been in the morning, when both the Red Bull and Ferrari teams produced improved speed to threaten the champion team's supremacy.

Asked about Rosberg's accident, Hamilton said: "It is not something you have to think about. You just go out and drive and hope for the best."

The incidents highlighted again the dangers that remain prevalent at one of the classic 'traditional' long and high speed F1 tracks where last year Hamilton and Rosberg's tense intra-team rivalry turned acrimonious and resulted in a collision during the race. Rosberg's tyre failure also reminded all observers of the similar spectacular tyre explosions during the 2013 British Grand Prix weekend. Hamilton finally did one more lap on the medium tyres before the end of the session when he finished three-tenths adrift of Rosberg's best lap in one minute and 49.385 seconds.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo was third quickest, seven-tenths behind, ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Daniil Kvyat, who was a full second adrift of the fastest time. Kimi Raikkonen, who signed a new contract with Ferrari for 2016 on Wednesday, was fifth quickest ahead of German Nico Hulkenberg in a Force India, Frenchman Romain Grosjean of Lotus and Ericsson.

Felipe Masr was ninth in second Sauber ahead of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel in the second Ferrari.

Belgian GP: Rosberg unhurt after high speed blow-out at practice

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