Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Baku City Circuit, 2021

McLaren urge FIA to reveal more details over cause of “safety critical” Baku tyre failures

2021 French Grand Prix

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McLaren have called for more information to be shared about the exact cause of the tyre failures suffered by drivers at two rival teams during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Team principal Andreas Seidl said he was disappointed by the lack of transparency over the “safety critical topic”. Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll suffered left-rear tyre failures at one of the fastest points on the track at the Baku City Circuit.

Formula 1’s official tyre supplier Pirelli ruled out any problem with its product but also confirmed the two teams involved, Red Bull and Aston Martin, had followed the usage limits which were set for the race. The FIA later issued a revised technical directive specifying new, more detailed tyre usage restrictions for this weekend.

Pirelli’s head of motorsport Mario Isola said yesterday the teams involved had been running their tyres at lower pressures than it expected they would during the race. The new restrictions are aimed at preventing them doing so again.

However Seidl says unanswered questions remain over what exactly the two teams were doing.

“There are obviously a lot of assumptions up in the air of what actually happened,” he said. “There’s a lot of criticism up in the air also towards Pirelli but in the end I think that’s not something we would support from our side because I think Pirelli has produced a safe product for this year.

“If you look at our car for example in Baku, if you were running the car within the regulations and following the prescriptions from Pirelli, that was no issue with the tyres. So that’s why I think it would be important for everyone, for the entire paddock to have transparency in understanding what actually happened and what was what causing these failures in the end.”

Further details of how the failures on the two cars occured “needs to come from the FIA”, Seidl believes.

“They have the power to decide what needs to get made transparent here in this case,” he said. “But in the end, it involves all parties that were involved in what happened there.”

“This week with the TD coming out and seeing the carefully chosen words in the press releases and the statements from all parties involved, what is a bit disappointing for us is that there is not more transparency in what actually happened because it is obviously was a safety critical topic, what happened there in Baku,” he explained.

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“Normally, and I think that was a good practice in either case in the past, that with cases like that happening is transparency of what is happening, which didn’t happen so far towards the teams so that’s a bit disappointing.”

The new restrictions which have been issued for this weekend’s race are unnecessary, said Seidl, as teams would not have experienced the failures if they had stuck to Pirelli’s guidance on tyre use.

“From our point of view, we can only speak for McLaren, I think we definitely welcome the activities on the FIA’s side to put these clarifications out. At the same time, from our point of view, they were not really needed.

“The regulations were clear before. There is a clear reason why we get the prescriptions from Pirelli and why these regulations are in place. And we as a team are fully aware of that, and we know that we have to act responsibly with these prescriptions within the regulations in order to ensure that we don’t put our drivers at risk.

“The TD doesn’t change anything in terms of what we did, what we have to do now, what we did in the past. As I said before the regulations were clear before, and I think that’s all we can say from the our side to this.”

The scale of performance advantage Red Bull and Aston Martin would have gained by running their tyres below at lower pressures isn’t clear, Seidl added.

“Obviously I can’t judge what other teams are running, so I don’t know how big the spread was of the pressures. But it is clear that the tyre pressure you’re running this is key to the performance, there’s a big impact on performance.

“At the same time, it’s not something new. It also has a big impact on the safety and reliability of the tyre.”

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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...
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17 comments on “McLaren urge FIA to reveal more details over cause of “safety critical” Baku tyre failures”

  1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    18th June 2021, 11:13

    If they don’t plan on doing anything shady (which they say they won’t because they cried like babies regarding the rear wing bending), there’s literally no point in knowing. And if Ferrari can get away with their cheat-engine, some smart play by teams that might be able to be finetuned within regulations, there’s no reason to puill the lid entirely on what the teams did.

    Seidl is just fishing once again because it turns out the geniusses at McLaren (and probably Mercedes) aren’t actually as smart as they believed they were.

    1. If I’d assume and that it would be hypothetically true that Red Bull and Aston Martin ran lower pressures on the rear tyres, I think they should be both disqualified, as Baku is really a rear limited circuit, and lower pressures are hugely beneficial in keeping the rear tyres under control from temperatures, as lower pressures on the rear tyres allow for better stability and traction. I actually think they should examine all the teams because I’d be surprised if only those two teams were the ones exploiting the tyre pressures.

      1. @krichelle There is no way that they could be investigated now. The race is over, they complied with all the checks in place at the time and the tires are probably in the middle of the recycling process by now. And there is no firm evidence that either of the teams did anything wrong. But I agree that if they were going to investigate, they should investigate all the teams. The fact that none of the teams are crying out for an investigation suggest that they all *might* have something to hide.

        1. Indeed @randommallard. Not to mention that Pirelli explicitly asked the FIA to introduce these new guidelines because they do not have online data that would show those temperatures, so it is not clear one would be even able to prove any of that, if they would want to.

    2. @barryfromdownunder Teams that have such disregard for the safety of their own drivers as well as the safety of the other drivers around these cars should be exposed for what they were doing.

      1. Like the 2015 Mercedes tire soap? Something that was actually proven and not only suggested.
        Or did you just shot yourself in the foot.

  2. This all started with the Ferrari power unit white wash, if teams are bending the rules, this information needs to be issued to the other teams for transparency. This just creates a feeling that red bull and Aston Martin have did something and got a performance advantage from it, but were never penalised.

    1. @emu55 The teams probably did do something. But it is a question of whether what they did was illegal, and it probably wasn’t under the regulations in place at the time. So end of case (probably).

  3. @emu55 – Red Bull and Aston martin weren’t found to have done anything against the rules as they were written. The rules have now been updated the so the teams need to ensure they follow them as they are written now. That’s all McLaren need to know. They can say it’s a “safety critical issue” but if they don’t have to change anything to be OK with the new rules, they don’t have anything to worry about.

    If Red Bull or AM were found to have broken the rules, the teams should be told what happened but as they haven’t, there’s no reason for anyone to know specifics. Follow the rules as they are written now and you will be safe. Simple.

    1. It does seem that even if they weren’t following the rules, nobody would be able to prove it @petebaldwin.

      I got it that the change is meant mainly to be able to detect any teams trying to go under, which implies that Pirelli suspects that they were going against those safety guidelines at least in part of the race (i.e. their tech investigation showed damage that would only happen to the extent it was with too soft sidewalls from low pressure).
      I guess it makes sense that McLaren would happily get that one investigated more in detail (probably to learn to exactly what extent they can do that too!).

    2. @petebaldwin Red Bull and Aston Marin knew damned well that their running pressures were too low. They do monitor tyre pressures.

      So they knowingly ran the tyres below minimum running pressure since they knew they would get away with it. In doing so they knowingly took a risk with the lives of their own drivers but also the lives of the other drivers.

      That’s just despicable behavior and the teams that do play fair are rightly mortified that others have such loose considerations for the safety guidelines.

      1. They gave all available info to pirelli. The tire pressure was according to the prescription by pirelli.

  4. I just find it amazing that a team would put there drivers life at risk by messing about with tyre pressures, everyone who has ever owned a car/bike/van etc.. knows that keeping the tyre pressure in the recommended range is vital for safety.
    Jenson Button before the race weekend commented on how dangerous the pit entry was, and here we are with two 200+mph tyre failures within striking distance of the pit entry, F1 was seconds away from coming to terms with a fatality that was totally avoidable.
    This is why there should be more clarity on what happened, because this white washing and nothing to see here attitude will eventually come back and bite F1 hard.

  5. F1? Controversial team’s “interpretation” of rules.
    Flappy front wing gate.
    Fuel sensor gate.
    Bendy rear wing gate.
    Tyre pressure gate.
    Now see why the biblical proportions of rules & regulations.

  6. Could it be linked to flexible rear wings?

    1. Well that’s also a safety issue yes. Flexible wing mounts have been know to cause failures and those are just as catastrophic as a tyre failure.

      1. Still Scraping the barrel I see :)

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