Azerbaijan GP tyre blowouts: Pirelli begin investigations with drivers keen to know what went wrong

Damon Hill says F1’s drivers will be concerned about the high-speed tyre failures in the Azerbaijan GP.

Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who was leading the race, suffered left-rear failures on the hard compound within 16 laps of each other while travelling around 200mph down Baku’s mammoth pit straight.

Pirelli will conduct extensive investigations into what caused the blowouts this week.

“Certainly, the drivers are concerned and well they might be because the circuit has got some of the highest speeds – sustained high speeds – of any circuit we go to,” said Hill, the 1996 world champion, on Sky Sports News.

Pirelli boss Mario Isola said on Sunday night that the manufacturer’s “first investigation” at the circuit into the tyre failures had pointed towards on-track debris being the possible cause.

However, he stressed that a more thorough analysis would be completed when they got the tyres back to their base in Italy later this week.

“First investigations suggest debris because the rear-left is not the most stressed tyre on this circuit. It’s the rear-right; if we talk about wear it’s the front-right,” Isola, Pirelli’s head of F1, told Sky Germany.

“So it’s in a position that doesn’t suggest anything special on tyres.

“The other point is that we found another cut on a rear-left tyre from another car that luckily didn’t cut the construction. It was a rear-left from Lewis, that was clearly a cut from debris.

Isola added: “When something like that happens, we need to collect information to understand what happened.”

‘This is not supposed to happen’

Sebastian Vettel, whose Aston Martin team-mate Stroll was the first to crash, said the incidents happened at “probably the worst place of the year” on the calendar.

“Obviously I was on the safer side because my tyres were fresher than everyone else’s but when Max had the same issue, it was quite clear that… who’s next? That sort of thing,” said the four-time world champion, who finished second in the race.

“I don’t know why but this is not supposed to happen so I think there needs to be a bit of an investigation because it’s probably the worst place of the year you want to have this. It could go massively wrong if you get it wrong so close to also to pit entry, to the wall there. We are doing well over 300kph (186mph).”

Hill also said that Verstappen was fortunate to slew to the right-hand side barrier.

“Max was lucky because if he goes to the left there’s a barrier that goes into the pit wall, if he’d gone there the accident could have been quite a lot more severe,” added Hill.

“The impact could have been a lot heavier.”

Sergio Perez, Sunday’s race winner and Verstappen’s team-mate, also said it was important the problems were fully understood.

“The speeds and getting a failure there it’s something pretty extreme,” said the Red Bull driver. “Luckily nothing happened today but it’s something that has to be reviewed and make sure that we understand what’s going on.

In a statement on Sunday evening, Pirelli’s Isola added: “No warnings or vibrations were detected and none of the other tyres of a similar age or older showed any signs of excess wear.

“So we can not exclude that the damage was caused by an external factor, although these things shouldn’t happen and we can understand the need for answers.”

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