Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Paul Ricard, 2021

Verstappen “still not happy” with Pirelli’s tyre failure explanation after meeting

2021 French Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen is still unhappy with Pirelli’s explanation for the tyre failure which cost him victory in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, following a lengthy meeting between drivers and the manufacturer yesterday.

While Pirelli confirmed Red Bull had obeyed the starting minimum pressures it had indicated for its tyres in Baku, its motorsport director Mario Isola later stated the team’s tyres were running at a lower pressure than was expected during the race.

From this weekend teams must follow new restrictions on tyre pressures and blanket temperatures which are being measured during sessions. Pirelli has also increased its minimum starting tyre pressures.

Although Verstappen said he’s “happy, of course, with how everything is better policed”, he still has concerns over Pirelli’s explanation for his race-ending failure.

“I’m still not happy with the explanation with what happened in Baku because I don’t think it’s fully clear, at least for people outside, fans,” he said. “I know what happened, the team knows what happened, but it’s very confusing what they put out.

“But it’s fine, life goes on, we just keep on going hopefully from now on we can just be safe in the car and nothing happens.”

Verstappen does not believe the changes Pirelli has made for this weekend will disadvantage Red Bull.

“Basically you just run higher tyre pressures so you have less grip but of course that’s for everyone,” he said. “So I don’t think it really hurts one team more than the others.”

Lewis Hamilton said he was pleased by the introduction of an updated technical directive for this weekend specifying new restrictions on tyre usage.

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“I don’t have any problems with what was said in the meeting,” said Hamilton. “As I said the other day, I was surprised that things needed clarifying because we thought it was clear, but clearly not.

“So I’m grateful that the FIA have clarified the steps that people need to take and I heard they’re obviously putting things in place to make sure policing is done better. That’s all we can ask for.”

“Nothing changes” for Mercedes as a result of the new restrictions, Hamilton added.

Grand Prix Drivers Association director George Russell said yesterday’s meeting between drivers, Isola and the FIA’s head of single seaters Nikolas Tombazis was the longest he’d ever experienced, but was a “constructive conversation”.

“It’s just good to understand the reasonings,” said Russell. “Obviously they develop the tyre and simulate everything expecting it to do one thing. And if obviously on a few cars, for whatever reason, it reacts in a different way, to something that they don’t measure, then obviously they’re going to have different results.

“So it’s good that we got the explanation and the clarification with these new regulations they have in place. So, right now, I don’t think there is any concerns from a safety perspective.”

The meeting gave drivers “a chance to express their feelings and the Pirelli and FIA had their chance to explain it” said Russell.

“We’re not the experts, we just drive it, they are the experts. So we have to understand why these issues occurred and now we do. And now it shouldn’t happen again because of these new regulations.”

“From a safety perspective everything seems under control,” he added. “We now just need to work together with F1 and Pirelli to improve the performance side which obviously is what we drivers are chasing.”

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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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4 comments on “Verstappen “still not happy” with Pirelli’s tyre failure explanation after meeting”

  1. Unclear is the fact the tire pressures behave differently on different cars. I get it is something pirelli was not aware of. But changing the testing does not really solve the cause.
    It is always nice to have more info. But as pirelli stated they already receive the tire telemetrics after every race by default. Why has no one noticed these differences before. You would expect they analyze these data thoroughly.

    1. Same. But I am really upset over this because the tyres determine the performance of a car, as if you are not in the window of tyre temperature operation, you are basically screwed, and you will need to rely on your skill a lot more.

      Just like a comment on another thread, I am honestly surprised that none of the teams attempted to call for disqualification on Red Bull or Aston Martin, which means that teams are also hiding something that is being exploited. FIA and Pirelli need to do a better job in surveying the tyre performance and preparation. It’s as simple as that. This is a really technical sport wherein small margins are of huge benefit. Lowwr pressures mean lower temperatures, but more chance that your tyre wears out quicker, as more tyre surface exerts contact with the surface of the track. Higher pressures mean higher temperatures, but chance of less wear as long as you can prevent the temperatures from peaking and causing the rubber to shred.

      1. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
        19th June 2021, 19:31

        I think the big problem is that nobody can force a certain pressure during a race at any or at all times. Pressure can drop for a variety of reasons and you can bet your salary on it that each and every team use methods to decrease it as much as possible.
        Pirelli only enforces tyre pressures because they don’t want their rubber to blow up and cause bad PR; a tyre giving it isn’t exactly screaming ‘our rubber is good!’. Even though everyone admits the cars would be faster if the pressure is lower than what Pirelli prescribes (and enforces). But by having a mandatory tyre pressure, they can say: ‘the tyre will last X laps’. Sure teams/drivers can sometimes go over that, which merely shows Pirelli is playing it safe: if a tyre gives out after their suggested laps, they can hide behind the fact they had a suggested amount of tyre life that was surpassed.

        In my opinion, they should just let the teams decide how much PSI to run their tyres with. And if a tyre gives out? Well, should’ve pumped more air into it. That way you lay all the blame (and gain) at the teams rather than have Pirelli make teams Ttip Toe around and try to find ways around it anyway.

        Now, as Verstappen also said, nothign will change, as the trickey (from what I could understand with humid air being used which at high temps vamporizes rusulting in lower pressure) happens mostly after the cars have left the garage anyway. And as I said: you can’t enforce pressure during a race, as pressure sometimes just drops. Teams could claim they have a slow puncture that just so happens to not cause issues until the pitstop.

        It’s the flexi-wing stuff all over: a bunch of teams do it (for front wings ALL teams do it, I checked every on-board today on the start/finish straight) just some do it more (and thus better) than others. Teams not (ab)using it to their full potential simply haven’t found the perfect way yet.

  2. Brundle agrees with Verstappen the explanation from Pirelli about the failures was not good enough. Me too.

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