Verstappen had no warning of tyre problem before “dangerous” crash

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Max Verstappen said he had no indication he was about to suffer a tyre failure before the crash which cost him victory in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver was leading the race with five laps to go when he suffered an apparent left-rear tyre failure which sent his car into the wall on the pit straight, where speed exceed 300kph.

“I didn’t feel anything up until the moment that I suddenly went to the right,” explained Verstappen after he had been released from the Medical Centre at the Baku City Circuit. “The tyre just blew off the rim.”

He struck the barrier nose-first but was able to climb out of his RB16B unaided. “It’s not a nice impact to have,” he said. “It’s quite a dangerous place to have a tyre blow out at that speed. But all fine with me, the car not so much.”

Although Lewis Hamilton also failed to score, Verstappen rued the lost opportunity to close on his championship rival.

“Up until then I think we had a very strong race,” said Verstappen. “I was basically matching the lap times that I had to do behind. We were fully in control.

“Of course it’s very disappointing what happened. We lost out on a lot of points, we could have opened up the gap in the championship as well, so to have this happening, especially so close to the end, is very frustrating.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

His team mate Sergio Perez, who was running second at the time of Verstappen’s crash, went on to take victory. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said it was a day of mixed feelings for the team after a failure which cost them their first one-two finish for five years.

Horner said Verstappen and race engineer Giampiero Labiase had the race under control when the failure struck without warning.

“We were staring down the barrels of our first one-two since 2016,” he told Sky. “Everything in control. GP had just checked in with Max, all okay. And then boom, the tyre went.

“At the moment we don’t know why, it looked like the wear was all in good shape so whether it’s debris or something as happened. But it’s a big place to have an accident. Thankfully he’s okay.”

“We were managing the tyres pretty well and you could see all the wear pins and all that was going well,” Horner added. “You can see it’s suddenly deflated. Whether it’s a bit of debris from the shunt earlier you just don’t know.

“So I think let’s get the tyre back, look at it fully. But obviously [we were] feeling at that point that the world’s just dropped from under us.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Browse all 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

43 comments on “Verstappen had no warning of tyre problem before “dangerous” crash”

  1. Come on Christian, this was clearly Kimi 2005 all over, you were pushing that tyre way beyond its life, just accept fifth place and stop trying to push the car, you put Max’s life in danger there
    (Am I doing it right?)

    1. @hahostolze Yes, I agree. I also blame both affected teams for the failures instead of Pirelli immediately.

    2. So apparently Pirelli saying those hard tyres should do 40-41 laps is Christian endangering life of Max who had those tyres for less than 35 laps.

      1. So apparently my radar has been flashing red all the time.

    3. @hahostolze

      you were pushing that tyre way beyond its life

      Pirelli told teams the hard compound could do more than 40 laps, Neither Verstappen or Stroll had done that many laps.

      It’s purely another example of the Pirelli tires been unfit for F1 & it’s time for people to stop making excuses for Pirelli’s abysmal unsuitable for F1 joke comedy tires.

    4. Also we should not that some of the laps on those tyres were under a safety car, so not a lot of stresses imposed upon the tyres. Yet they still blow up…

      1. Perhaps the time behind the safety car is the issue. Having the tires cool behind the safety car then get heated again could have shortened the life of the tire. Just guessing of course, but I wouldn’t doubt if that had some hand in the failure.

        1. Coventry Climax
          6th June 2021, 18:08

          So what caused Stroll’s Pirelli blowout then?
          And even if, shouldn’t that be a situation that Pirelli should have tested their tyres for, then?

    5. I’ve been following this site since it’s original name, and almost never read the comments. The quality of such has increasingly deteriorated.

      It’s not hard, you got a Google don’t you? Pirelli said tires should last x number of laps. Verstappen did <x number of laps. Really, it's not hard.

      1. @esteban He indicates it’s a joke though?

  2. Made both affected drivers just kept on using the same set longer than they should’ve had.
    BTW, still no rate the race.

    1. Were they? Pirelli said you could do 40 laps on the hard tyre and they did quite some behind the SC after stroll crashed.

    2. “We were managing the tyres pretty well and you could see all the wear pins and all that was going well,” Horner added

      @jerejj They weren’t anywhere close to the wear related life of the tyre which we know because they can measure it (as per comment above) and the performance would have dropped off a lot more. Wear might have been a contributing factor because the tyres weren’t blowing up on shorter stints throughout the weekend, but it seems like a structural failure or damage from debris that caused it. Given that both Stroll and Verstappen had left rear tyres blow up I would think it is less likely to be debris, but we’ll need to wait for further info to know for sure.

      1. Coventry Climax
        6th June 2021, 18:10

        Even with the further info we’ll get, from Pirelli and FIA, we’ll still won’t know for sure.

    3. Verstappen was cruising up front on tires he had the chance to nurse during a couple laps under a safety car.
      At some point Pirelli’s excuses are running out.
      Some could argue there were debris because of Strolls crash, but what caused Strolls crash? The race had been clean up until then.

      1. When I listen to the audio of both Lance’s crash and Max’s one I can hear what sounds like the tyre blowing out maybe one or two seconds before the car started to weave. This is especially noticeable in the case of Lance’s crash. If that sound is the sound of the tyre blowing out then Pirelli need to explain what caused that. I totally agree with the phone call that person from Red Bull made to Michael Masi requesting the race be Red Flagged so all the teams could replace the Hard tyres on their cars.

  3. Why of all places should both tyre failures happen at a place where theoretically they suffer the least?

    Also, why on Earth Masi delayed so much both SC entries? I swear, this guy is unworthy of his position, borderline remissive. Reminds me of Bruynseraede.

    1. He decided penalties too late back in Imola. He defended marshals running on track very closely to the cars at Bahrain 2020. He restarted the 2020 Turkish GP qualifying session while a crane was still out on the track.
      VERY DANGEROUS. That’s all so far.

    2. @niefer I agree with you regarding Masi. The red flag delay long after Max’s car had been retrieved was a waste of everyone’s time. He could’ve also helped Lewis win the race through artificial randomness but luckily didn’t.

      1. There’s still that, @jerejj! I’m 100% with you on this.

    3. Agree with all here. It’s gone too far.

      1. And if he doesn’t learn from his dangerous mistakes in the next few races…

  4. I have to congratulate Verstappen for reacting so calmly. I wouldn’t have acted like him. Pirelli is compromising the championship and driver safety 10 years into the sport.

  5. The fact that Red Bull had no warning signs is quite unnerving. The decision to go softer from 2019 seems puzzling now in retrospect.

  6. I feel really sorry for Max he did a great race but just bad luck. On the other hand I thought may be he paid the price for his silly moves he made towards other drives in his early career. I hope this brings an end to his bad luck for this season.

  7. There’s far too much attention on Pirelli’s ineptitude and their dangerous product. A spec part should not be playing any role in potentially deciding a championship.

    If the standard transponder or ECU were causing issues, they would be rightly pulled and issues rectified ASAP. Why is the same not true for the tyres, a part that safety is clearly much more contingent on?

  8. It’s the same thing every time the Pirelli tires fail, They give no warning.

    Pirelli said the hard compound could do 40+ laps & neither Verstappen or Stroll had done that many.

    But even if they had gone beyond the life of the tire I still think it’s unacceptable for tires to simply fail like that at the end of there life with no prior warning. If a tire has been pushed too far then it should lose performance before it gets the point of failure. The fact that Max & Stroll were still setting competitive laptimes shouldn’t be possible if a tire is about to have a wear related failure.

    The same thing was brought up by teams/drivers when Vettel had that failure at Spa in was it 2015 or 2016. You should get a warning via a loss in performance well before it reaches the point of an end of life/wear related failure.

    1. Coventry Climax
      6th June 2021, 18:20

      If the innermost layers were red, than orange, then yellow, up to the outermost layers being black (or green, for all I care), than you’d have your clear warning system. Nice for the viewers too, by the way. But I don’t expect Pirelli to be able to create this, while having the level of wear/structural integrity match the colors.

      1. Would be a good idea.

  9. I think both Max and Stroll were lucky they didn’t have anyone close behind them at the time of their tyre failures…those sort of random tyre blow ups on a straight could easily have resulted in them being plowed into by a following car, and we’ve seen in the past those are usually the most dangerous sorts of accidents these days.

  10. Pirelli said the tires should last 40 laps. But the graph a few laps before Max crashed showed Perez rear at 10%. Clearly they overestimated the compounds life’s, but had the data to take action. Red alert should have been activated after Stroll crash and Perez tires below 10%. I think that both Pirelli and teams have some blame.

    And I think… Had Stroll stopped to mediums he would have had a lot of points… Save mistake he would come from pit close to Gasly. And Max should have crashed some 2 laps earlier.

    1. But the graph a few laps before Max crashed showed Perez rear at 10%.

      @adunlucas The tyre performance graphic (Like the other Amazon AWS nonsense) is an estimate created by a computer algorithm rather than something that is based on raw data. It’s also aimed more at giving an idea of tyre performance rather than actual tyre wear or anything.

      It’s also a graphic Pirelli have called misleading & not based off any data coming from them.
      https://www.racefans.net/2019/10/26/f1s-new-tyre-wear-television-graphic-is-misleading-says-pirelli/

      1. Thanks… I didn’t knew it (reading this site from last year). Anyway somehow it showed Hamilton tires better than Perez, albeit checo’s were 2 laps newer. So Pirelli should know, at least after Stroll crash, that something was wrong.

    2. The strategy Lance was on looked good to me. The only problem was the Pirelli tyre didn’t seem capable of doing 40 laps, which is what they said it could do.

      1. @drycrust sorry to poke in here but just spotted this while I was looking for a comment of the day and you’ve said what I assumed was the case before I did the interactive data – but actually Norris and Alonso were on 41 laps by the time they switched tyres and several other drivers were close.

        1. @hazelsouthwell Thank you for telling me that. As I said elsewhere, the video evidence suggests those tyres blew out on both Max’s car and Lance’s car, which would be extraordinary if found to be correct. As you said in the preamble to the Interactive charts, Lance had done 30 laps and Max had done 34. Maybe others had managed to run longer, but they were dicing with imminent tyre failure.
          I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a tyre blow out in F1. The fact it happened twice in the same race is very disturbing to me.

  11. RocketTankski
    6th June 2021, 20:19

    It was the man in a hat on the grassy knoll. He had the Pirelli destructo remote control.

    1. interesting, but there’s a slight hole in your theory… there’s no grassy knoll in Baku, otherwise would have been perfectly conceivable.

  12. Is Masi aware of his job description? Does he know he doesnt have to take care of the show, just its safety?

    1. Calls for dismissal then?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.