‘Unacceptable’ F1 debacle leaves teams furious

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen has slammed tyre manufacturer Pirelli, after a left-rear failure cost him victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Verstappen had a comfortable lead with just five laps remaining when he lost control at more than 300km/h. The 23-year-old was nothing more than a passenger after the tyre failed on the approach to the start/finish line.

A visibly upset Verstappen climbed out of the car and kicked the tyre in frustration.

Verstappen’s accident occurred just a few hundred metres from where Lance Stroll crashed earlier in the race, when his left-rear tyre also failed.

Speaking after the race, Verstappen suggested Pirelli would blame debris on the circuit for the failures, rather than accepting the blame.

“I didn’t feel anything up until the moment that I suddenly went to the right, the tyre just blew off the rim and it’s not a nice impact to have, it’s quite a dangerous place to have a tyre blowout at that speed,” he said.

“For sure [the team will speak to Pirelli] but we know the result from that conversation already and that’s a bit hard to accept.

“It will be related to debris, it’s like that. I’m sure there will be talks, Pirelli isn’t happy with what happened here today, but it doesn’t change anything to the race and the result I got here.

“Of course I’m pissed off because of what happened today. It was a fairly easy race for me.

“Sometimes this sport is very harsh when things like this happen, it’s shit.”

Questioned as to whether or not he believed debris was to blame for the failure, Verstappen was clear.

“I don’t think so, I wasn’t stressing the tyres,” he explained. “It felt comfortable and I didn’t feel any vibrations before it let go.

“[Debris] is difficult. We’re doing the same line every lap because everyone wants to be in the slipstream. It’s very weird that it happens to me.

“I think they cleaned the track [after Stroll crashed] but Pirelli is probably going to say it was carbon debris on track.

“The fact is another tyre exploded, not only for me but also for Stroll.”

Exactly as Verstappen had predicted, a short while later Pirelli boss Mario Isola indicated that preliminary investigations suggested debris was the cause of both crashes, while also revealing Lewis Hamilton’s tyres were also damaged.

“First investigations suggest debris because the rear-left is not the most stressed tyre on this circuit. It’s the rear-right; if we talk about wear it’s the front-right,” he told Sky Sports Germany.

“It’s in a position that doesn’t suggest anything special on tyres.

“The other point is that we found another cut on a rear-left tyre from another car that luckily didn’t cut the construction. It was a rear-left from Lewis, that was clearly a cut from debris.”

Former driver Paul di Resta, who is McLaren’s current reserve driver, was another to hit out at Pirelli.

The tyres brought to this year’s Azerbaijan race were of a softer compound than previously used in Baku.

“It’s not acceptable,” di Resta said on Sky Sports.

“They’ve changed the construction for this year, they’re a lot heavier, the drivers don’t like the tyres, but they were told this was the only way, with the downforce that these cars have got, it’s what they had to do.

“That could be championship-deciding.”

Di Resta pointed out that both Stroll and Verstappen had the tyre failure at an almost identical point on the circuit, and noted that the circuits ahead on the calendar put more stress on the tyres than Baku.

“It’s horrible when you see cars do that, when they’re at that speed,” di Resta said.

“Luckily he went that side [to the right] and not the pitlane side, because sliding across the road at those speeds is absolutely crazy.

“I feel for Max, because he’s not put a foot wrong.

“There’s going to be some seriously big questions from the teams, asked of Pirelli, about why this happened.”

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