Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Baku City Circuit, 2021

“Tyres should not explode like that” says Villeneuve as Pirelli prepares to reveal findings

2021 F1 season

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Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve described the tyre failures which struck during last weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix as “embarrassing”.

The sport’s official tyre supplier Pirelli expects to reveal the findings of its investigation into the failures suffered by Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll early this week.

Verstappen was leading the race when his left-rear hard C3 compound tyre failed with six laps to go. Stroll retired 16 laps earlier with a similar failure, while running in fourth place. Both had covered around 30 laps on the sets.

“Tyres should not explode like that,” said Villeneuve, who raced in F1 between 1996 and 2006. “They did not even have that many laps. It’s embarrassing.

“And too bad – Stroll was having a good race and Max had it under control.”

Both teams said they had no indication the tyres were at risk of failing. Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase was in the process of telling his driver their “traction metrics are sensible” at the very moment his failed tyre pitched him into a barrier at around 300kph.

Verstappen’s two laps prior to his crash were the fastest of any driver during the race. “Max was just doing best lap after best lap and he had a big lead so he didn’t need to drive so fast,” said Villeneuve. “But I’m not sure what else he could have done because he wasn’t sliding around, there was nothing major. So bad luck there.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Baku City Circuit, 2021
Analysis: Eight safety questions raised by Azerbaijan Grand Prix crashes and F1’s reaction
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner insisted Verstappen had not “abused” his tyres prior to the failure.

Pirelli’s head of motorsport Mario Isola said their preliminary inspection of the tyres indicated an external factor such as debris or a kerb may have contributed to the failures. However he does not believe the cause was unique to the Baku circuit.

“I don’t want to point the finger at Baku and the circuit,” said Isola. “I saw that they were cleaning the circuit many times during the weekend. Debris and carbon parts are always very sharp.

“The point is that on a street circuit you have much less run [off] and so the debris stays on-track. But this is quite normal in any street circuit, it’s not just Baku. I believe it’s the same in Singapore, it’s the same in Monte-Carlo, because the debris is there.

“If you have a crash, any damage part of a car because maybe a driver is jumping on a kerb and breaking a part of the wing or whatever, it stays on track so it’s much easier to pick it up.”

Pirelli brought the softest tyres in its range – the C3, C4 and C5 compounds – to last week’s race. The C3 compound is being used at every round this year, and will be the medium tyre for this weekend’s French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard, alongside the C4 soft and C2 hard tyre.

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54 comments on ““Tyres should not explode like that” says Villeneuve as Pirelli prepares to reveal findings”

  1. If it was indeed a kerb, debris or something cutting the tires then were Lance, Max & Lewis (Who’s tire they also found a cut on apparently) running a radically different line somewhere to everyone else?

    If it was a kerb then surely we would have seen more cars with damaged tires & if it was debris then surely somebody would have seen it or again more drivers would have hit it.

    If they are going to fall back on the usual ‘debris’ excuse then they need to provide proof because frankly I don’t think I trust that they aren’t just using that as an excuse to cover up how unsuitable for F1 the tires are.
    It is afterall the only time in the sports history the sport has had to introduce regulations (Mandated minimum pressures, camber levels & a ban of swapping) & even modify the cars (With the aero changes for this year) to get around the apparent deficiencies of the tires the so called pinnacle of the sport it been supplied with.

    It is indeed embarrassing that the pinnacle of the sport has had the worst tires in the sport for a decade now.

  2. ““I don’t want to point the finger at Baku and the circuit,” said Isola.” 1/10th of a second before he starts blaming the circuit.

  3. Mark McCubbin
    14th June 2021, 12:46

    What aren’t F1 tyres run-flats yet? Instead of this article being about a tyres which explode, it should have been about Pirelli singing their own praises about how they have amazing tyres which can be deflated, punctured, ripped at 200mph, yet still retain their shape and integrity enough to allow the driver to bring the car safely to a controlled stop – and that same technology is now going into road tyres. But no, instead the tyre explodes and spears the car off into the wall for a massive crash.

    We don’t need tyres which are half a second faster each year anymore. The time spent on R&D should be put towards making the tyres safer so that everyone can benefit.

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      14th June 2021, 13:31

      The caveat of run-flat tyres is that they have a maximum speed that they can be driven at ( a quick google suggests this is ~50 mph). If that’s the case, then they would be useless is a failure occurred, like last weekend, at ~200 mph.

      I think the other thing at play is the sheer forces on the tires/cars. We’ve seen before how they can just destroy the floor, rims, rear wing just from the forces of a loose tire.

      1. Fred Fedurch
        15th June 2021, 11:44


        Minis come (came) with run flat Pirellis. No spare. A can of C02 ‘n goo in the trunk. My buddy was raving about his (until he found out how much it was to replace them). His Cooper S did considerably more than 50 MPH.

    2. Jonathan Potts
      14th June 2021, 14:08

      Runflat tyres are very heavy in comparison to normal tyres and a very stiff sidewall with little flex. Good idea in theory for the road but a tyre to withstand f1 forces deflated is probably beyond any worthwhile research and development costs not including the changes that would have to be made to the cars suspension etc.

      1. NASCAR has mandated tyres with an inner liner on tracks longer than 1 mile for a while now. This is done specifically to allow drivers to bring their car to a controlled stop if the outer liner fails. This creates essentially a tyre within a tyre that has it’s own air supply and as a result you often see cars with flat tyres at NASCAR making it around the track back to the pits to change them for fresh tyres. If NASCAR can figure it out with the weight and forces put on their tyres, Pirelli should be able to come up with something as well.

        1. It is a great solution for NASCAR, but the forces upon the wheels of a F1 car are massively higher. Correct me if I’m wrong, but F1 cars put well over 4 tons of downforce at top speed.

          1. I’m not sure about how they compare but NASCAR cars weigh over 3000 lbs and generate around 2000 pounds of downforce on top of that. Metric conversions for the civilized world would be 1360 kgs and 900 kgs respectively. With cars on oval tracks like Talladega doing over 320 kph average lap speeds.

    3. Coventry Climax
      15th June 2021, 0:13

      @ the above commenters of Marc McCubbin’s post: I think you all miss the point that Mark made here: Pirelli and the FIA have had 10 years to come up with a solution, yet they are stubbornly sticking to old technology and refusing to have any tyre development. It’s not that Mark says ‘use the run-flat’s that we have now’; he says that if there had been any R&D (like it should), tyres could have (and, between the lines, should have) been looking very different already. But Pirelli missed (and continues to miss) the opportunity to come up with something spectacular, the pinnacle in tyre technology, suitable to F1 and with spin offs for roadcars, putting Pirelli in the number one position tyre manufacturing-wise. Instead they have chosen to remain a sorry afair, a company that noone wants to buy tyres from.

    4. F1 tires with 13 inch rimes require a major overhaul, before even considering a run-flat construction. With current tire profile, the size of run-flat insert would be massive, tires would be extremely heavy, impacting and braking performance. They would definately require major suspension changes.

      Sealant technology might be more useful, but with sidewall delaminating from the rest of the tire neither of the solutions would help to prevent Baku-like incidents. It seems Pirelli was not ready for the loads and abuse of this high speed speed track, for whatever reason.

      Anyway, can’t wait to see F1 FINALLY go 18 inch. It should be done ages ago.

  4. It must be that time of year when JV comes out from under his rock to get back in to the news again.

    1. @brownerboy For better or worse, these days he seems better known for his opinions over his racing career.

      1. @bernasaurus I will never forget that he is a F1 WDC which puts him in an exclusive club on it’s own, as well as a CART Champion and and Indy 500 winner, and he came second at Lemans, and therefore came within a stones throw of the triple crown. His actions have spoken much much louder than his words.

        1. Quite agree Robbie.

          His career pre BAR was outstanding and y3s the Williams was a rocket but at least he drove it like one…

        2. @robbie Aside from not actually winning Le Mans. He also never won the Monaco GP. So more like a single crown really.

          1. @aiii There are two schools of thought on what constitutes the Triple Crown of Motorsport, and one is F1 title, Indy 500, and Lemans. The other is Monaco GP, Indy 500, and Lemans. Personally I have always thought the one that includes Monaco shouldn’t be any weightier than winning the WDC itself. Both methods to the Triple Crown seem accepted, albeit it is not like there is an official trophy for it or anything. In JV’s case it certainly speaks to his CV in racing the three disciplines. Second at Lemans in a Peugeot when it was a sister Peugeot that did win, was tantalizingly close to the Triple for JV. Suffice it to say, an incredible racer.

    2. World Champion, chip off the old block, lucky that he didn’t pursue a music career instead. He has been in broadcasting in the broad daylight for well on a decade now, not sure what rock has been shading you.

  5. F1MadFan1970 (@)
    14th June 2021, 13:17

    Max overdriving again IMO and putting up on kerbs that other drivers stayed away from. Bound to happen.

    1. Could be…or could it have been sabotage?

    2. What like Hamilton at Silverstone last year? Thought not @mikejohnherbert. What a ridiculous comment, not doing us Hamilton fans any favours.

      1. The thing is though was he saying the same at Silverstone last year?

        1. RandomMallard (@)
          14th June 2021, 17:01

          @scepter I think that is the point of John H’s comment. Although actually he wasn’t saying this after Silverstone last year because his account is only 5 days old.

          1. He basically doesn’t like saying “Hello I am brand new to RaceFans what are you guys up to”. (this is a mockery on him)

        2. TBF there were a few blaming Ham for the puncture he got at Silverstone.

      2. F1MadFan1970 (@)
        14th June 2021, 18:17

        Different tyre compound last season and your opinion is no better than mine thank you

        1. RandomMallard (@)
          14th June 2021, 21:56

          So why didn’t Max get a puncture at Silverstone last year, if it was supposedly much easier to get one? Not saying that he didn’t partly contribute last weekend, but I think there is much more to it than just pointing the finger at one driver and blaming it purely on them.

          1. F1oSaurus (@)
            15th June 2021, 8:21

            @randommallard Because he changed tyres. The tyres were found to be full of cuts though. To cover for the shame that they lost the race due to stopping for fastest lap.

      3. F1MadFan1970 (@)
        14th June 2021, 21:58

        It was different tyre compounds last season.

        Just because you don’t like my comment doesn’t make it rediculous and sorry but you don’t have the monopoly on Hamilton fans.

        1. You joined, then you left? I didn’t expect that!

    3. Pirelli said the C3 tyre, used as the Hard tyre at Baku, was good for 40 laps at Baku. I would take that to mean 40 laps of “normal” F1 racing, which would include riding up onto the kerbs. As Hazel Southwell (@hazelsouthwell) pointed out (in a comment), Alonso and Norris managed to do 41 laps on this tyre, and several other drivers were close to doing 40 laps on them. So I guess the question is what were Stroll and Verstappen doing that was different from what Alonso, Norris, and those others were doing? I doubt Stroll and Verstappen were the only drivers who were using the kerbs.

  6. Was going to comment in line with Mark above. Even if it is a puncture, the tyre should not behave that way. Loss of pressure can be quick but not sudden and the car would remain (relatively) controllable.

    1. @kcrossle This is etched into my childhood brain, that’s for the link. Cheers!

      1. Thanks for the link, spelling.

  7. Pirelli’s head of motorsport Mario Isola said their preliminary inspection of the tyres indicated an external factor such as debris or a kerb may have contributed to the failures.

    If’s it’s kerb, surely that’s Max’s fault?

    1. @amam Not a mention all weekend of kerbs being an issue and RBR reports that Max was not abusing his tires, and in terms of ‘Max’s fault’ you would think that if indeed he was abusing the tires somehow, the team would have noticed form their telemetry and would have cautioned him about it. Asked him to stay off the kerbs. Yet it seems there was never any reason to warn Max of anything tire wise. Same with Stroll from what I gather. In fact what Isola seems to be hinting at is moreso that perhaps someone broke their wing on a kerb which caused debris which caused a tire failure, not that hitting kerbs with the tires would be the problem. Not sure if there were many drivers breaking wings on kerbs in Baku, were there?

      Not surprising that Isola’s initial go-to would be ‘not our fault’ though.

      1. RandomMallard (@)
        14th June 2021, 21:54

        @robbie Yeah that’s what I see as well. The thing about street circuits is that they do get a lot of debris on them. Not only the traditional carbon fibre car pieces, but also rubbish blown in from surrounding streets, tree branches (as was seen early in the race, Lap 2?), etc.

      2. F1oSaurus (@)
        15th June 2021, 8:29

        @robbie Ferrari said that Vettel wasn’t abusing his tyres in Spa when one blew. While Mercedes told their drivers to stay off the kerbs at Raidillon to prevent tyre blowouts (as Rosberg suffered during practice).

        So yeah, the team will say whatever they want to take the blame away from themselves or their driver.

        Just like in Silverstone where the drivers were driving through a hole in front of the kerb which undoubtedly would cause issues. The hole was fixed and no tyres blew the next time around.

        1. @f1osaurus None of your examples have anything to do with Baku 2021. So you’re saying SV was found to have abused his tires at Silverstone? Ok, if true. At Baku what drivers were being told to stay off kerbs? What hole were they driving over at Baku?

          1. F1oSaurus (@)
            15th June 2021, 16:25

            @robbie That you don’t understand how they are related is the reason why you should just stop posting here.

          2. @f1osaurus You don’t want to stick to the facts about Baku 2021 and that’s just you being you. Meanwhile Baku is not known to be hard on tires and there was no mention of kerbing being a problem nor of drivers needing to stay off them all race weekend, and it is only Pirelli mentioning the kerbing after the fact. What happened at other tracks with other tires on other cars is irrelevant to this conversation. But you do you, as usual. I’m sure your motive is to sell the idea that Max’s blown tire was his fault and you’ll bank that misinformation for future reference again and again lol.

          3. F1oSaurus (@)
            15th June 2021, 20:37

            @robbie Just knock it off. You have no clue.

          4. F1oSaurus (@)
            15th June 2021, 20:39

            It’s not about doing something wrong on purpose. But it is about offering completely different perceptions. ie propaganda.

          5. @f1osaurus You’ve run out of ammo. Pirelli has now admitted the teams were not at fault for the tire failures, so, so much for your ‘propaganda’ imaginings. When CH said Max was not abusing his tires, and that they had no warning that there was going to be a blowout, and that indeed they were using the tires according to the parameters set by Pirelli, he can be believed. Sorry they’ve ruined your narrative. Better luck next time. Clueless. Now knock it off.

          6. F1oSaurus (@)
            16th June 2021, 7:04

            @robbie No I haven’t. It’s cute how you insist that everybody besides Horner, Marko and Veratappen is a liar

          7. @f1osaurus Zero ammo Trumposaurus says the teams will say whatever they want to deflect the blame from themselves or their drivers, but when out of ammo now I’m the one calling them liars. Lol nice try but that kind of fakery gets you unelected.

          8. F1oSaurus (@)
            16th June 2021, 14:54

            @robbie Also cute how you pretend like you are not the Trump in this situation while you are the one solely presenting one fake side as your “facts”

            You have no clue what you are talking about and the only people you quote are propagandists/pathological liars like Horner and Marko and to some extent Verstappen who just parrots the same propaganda

            Just like Trump supporters you lack the mental acuity to actually understand how dumb your arguments are.

            Sad. Very sad

  8. I have an opinion
    14th June 2021, 22:18

    JV telling it like it is. Regrettably, active drivers have been gagged from critising Pirelli for many years now.

    1. I rather like your opinion.

  9. Is the problem Pirelli not having good tyres or is it the choice of tyres for a race or is it both?

  10. F1oSaurus (@)
    15th June 2021, 8:34

    I’m not a fan of Pirelli, but when the tyres end up having cuts in them, then how are they supposed to cover for that? They could put much thicker thread on or a much thicker base, but then the teams would complain the tyres are too heavy.

  11. Chris Horton
    15th June 2021, 11:10

    I’m honestly sick of hearing what Jacques Villeneuve thinks. Him and Eddie Irvine actually.

    Please stop asking them questions.

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