Pirelli begins probe into Verstappen tyre failure

2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Formula 1’s official tyre supplier Pirelli is investigating whether other drivers were at risk of the same failure which ended Max Verstappen’s race.

The Red Bull driver was pitched off the track when his right-rear tyre failed without warning as he approached the Villeneuve chicane. Video replays indicated the failure occured around the inside shoulder area of his hard compound tyre.

RaceFans understands hard tyres from the same corner on Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo’s cars exhibited signs of bulging which could indicate they were also at risk of failure. All three drivers switched to hard tyres at their first pit stops. Verstappen’s tyre was on its 32nd lap when it failed, Hamilton did 22 laps on his tyres before changing them, while Ricciardo ran a 49-lap stint to the end of the race on his hard rubber.

The tyre which failed on Verstappen’s car has been returned to Pirelli’s base in Milan, along with an unidentified selection of other tyres, as part of their routine post-race inspections.

Mercedes confirmed Hamilton experienced a worsening vibration during his stint on the hard tyres. Prior to Verstappen’s failure, Hamilton told his team on the radio he had a “small vibration” from his tyres but stressed it was “nothing major.”

After Verstappen went out Mercedes told Hamilton “we have concerns with our rear tyres as well”. Hamilton replied: “My right-rear looks pretty bad.”

Verstappen is not the first driver to have suffered a sudden tyre failure this year. Racing Point driver Lance Stroll crashed out of the Tuscan Grand Prix following a puncture while running the same C2 compound as Verstappen.

During the British Grand Prix both Mercedes drivers and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jnr experienced tyre failures on the C1 compound. Pirelli attributed this to the extremely high cornering forces generated by this year’s cars.

The C1, C2 and C3 tyres have been selected for next weekend’s race at Istanbul Park in Turkey.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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21 comments on “Pirelli begins probe into Verstappen tyre failure”

  1. This is bad news for all those who blamed max for the problem.

    1. You forgot to attribute the quote ie “- no one”

      1. @f1oclown
        Jorge Lardone: It was clearly explained by the TV commentators that the tire exploded due to the poor treatment the Dutchman gave it.
        Rott: Pushed the car, pushed and pushed and pushed and exploded his right rear.
        10 seconds, 2 quotes….you’re saying?

        1. “@f1oclown”? Man, you must hate f1osaurus a lot.

        2. Ah true there is actual merit in those remarks. Vettel used to have a tendency for taking too much kerb and picking up more carbon splinters that accumulated there

  2. And then they will enforce even higher presures presumably

  3. Lewisham Milton
    4th November 2020, 13:45

    it’s a proper track and the tyres aren’t designed for those

  4. I am shaking my head on this. Even though I want the FIA to play with the rules of the tyres, this is getting ridiculous. Interestingly, they were on the Hard tyres, and nothing occurred to those who started on Softs and Mediums? Basically that means that the Hard tyre degraded quicker than the S and M tyres? Hamilton, Vettel and Latifi went on to do more than 30 laps on Mediums tyres, while Raikkonen did 48 on them. Unless track conditions changed after the first round of pitstops, this looks counter-intuitive.

    1. @krichelle Maybe the medium tyres had the same issue? It’s usually the length of the stints that allows cuts in the tyres to worsen enough to the point that they break.

  5. This is no good news for the image of Pirelli. No matter how the tyre should wear, a tyre failure can not happen at all. If I would buy a road tyre I also look at race classes wich manufacture has a good rep. I would skip Pirelli in comparison.

    Also, this is in general bad for the F1. I think this is the only class were this kind of tyre failure happen so often. I don’t watch Nascar or Indycar that often though.

    1. Except Pirelli make good roar tyres.

      Problem is f1 demand tyres that are touted to make racing better.

      I suspect though now that pirelli have been around so long, part of the top teams on track advantage comes from superior tyre management “tricks”.

  6. Pirelli really have to sort this out. Its super dangerous having tyres explode, whatever the cause, as the drivers have absolutely no control over what happens. Verstappen was lucky that it happened just in front of a gravel trap. if there’s a wall there (say a Monaco or Sochi) that is a big big accident

  7. I find it beyond insane that Pirelli tires are still exploding after all these years of running them.

    1. @dermechaniker Me too. It’s quite poor, although the forces are extreme and they are required to make the tyres degradable for the show.

      I wouldn’t even trust next year’s tyre, but hopefully 2022 will be better with the 18 inch version.

  8. Usually caused by debris, which I suspect is what Pirelli will conclude

  9. Pirelli’s only answer for tyre issues has been debris, increased loads and blaming the curbs/tracks, to which they have increased pressures. I wouldn’t be surprised if the sidewall failure that caused this blowout was a consequence of them now running such High pressures they’ve hit the limits of the construction. They’ll no doubt blame this one on them not being able to introduce their new compound this year.

  10. Bottom line is this.
    How is it possible that Pirelli remains in Formula One period?
    The 2020 season is riddled with disturbing evidence how fragile or in reality they are so dangerous. The best team in the business results are held back from under performing, in fact very dangerous tires.
    Is it some evil ploy behind the scenes that’s intention is to produce tires that at best give unreliable results.
    This is Formula One, Pirelli, and many fans smell the odor of stinky results. Results that gives victories to the unbelievably lucky and at the same time robs teams whose racing cars are vastly better than the tires can perform.
    Oh it’s called better racing by adding another gimmick to make F1 more about Luck instead of Skill. That’s not right.
    Tell the investors that the rules of the sport would rather have modified results instead of outright victory from the best machine.
    So I think Pirelli should tell F1 that it’s in their own best interest to build a true racing tire and not a chemical pile of crap requested by the FIA show that the results are predetermined before the red lights go out. Think I’m off base? Better look again.

  11. We already know the reason.

    The Pirelli’s continue to be rubbish.

    /s ?

  12. This year we have already see some straight-through-ers because of failing brakes or tyres. In this case it seems the track crew missed a bunch of debris on the track. For instance, Lance Stroll’s wing part was sitting almost on the track for a few laps before being removed. And they missed Vettel’s endplate entirely. Which got stuck on Bottas’s car, which caused lower downforce and that slip where Verstappen could get into BOT exhaust. Then Bottas got a good little runaway, and the downforce pushed Vettel’s wing onto the ground, which caused it to break off and possibly spilled all over and Verstappen and also under his car. You can see the sparks and the black dust coming from Val’s car in a Maxcam. That was just before max overtaking. I think a small carbon part pierced into the side of Max Tyre and made the Pirelli problem a little worse.
    If this would have happened in Senna’s corner, there would be another damn remembrance plaque…

  13. These tyres were designed in 2018 for last year’s car. Last year Pirelli designed some tyres for this year’s car, but the teams rejected them. What needs to be done is either to use the correct tyres for this year’s car, or to detune all the power units down to what the tyres are designed to handle. If F1 doesn’t do anything, which is what I’m guessing they’ll choose to do, then you can expect more tyre failures, and especially even more next year. This isn’t a good option because people can easily assume Pirelli are making an inferior product, and overlook the teams rejected the product that was designed for this year’s cars. Maybe there’s wisdom in Red Bull’s desire for an engine freeze, at least until the teams accept they need to use the correct tyres. Pirelli should make some of the newer spec tyres and give them to teams to try out at some of the Final Practice sessions at the Turkish GP.
    The FIA need to step in and mandate teams will test the new tyres at the next two GPs and then the new spec tyres will be the only ones available for the last two races of the season.

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