F1 tyre blowouts: Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton have say on Pirelli Baku investigation verdict

A “disappointed” Max Verstappen has criticised Pirelli for their “vague” explanation of the tyre blowouts at the Azerbaijan GP and insists Red Bull “didn’t do anything wrong”, although title rival Lewis Hamilton believes F1’s tyre supplier are not to blame as the Baku fallout continues.

The focus on tyres has ramped up heading into this weekend’s French GP following the two dramatic failures and high-speed crashes at the last race, for Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and race leader Verstappen, with Pirelli concluding that the problems were related to “running conditions” rather than track debris or any structural issues with their product.

They did not go into more detail into the investigation, apart from stating that Aston Martin and Red Bull had followed the prescribed starting perimeters regarding minimum tyre pressure and maximum blanket temperatures.

  • Pirelli reveals findings after Baku blowouts investigation
  • Sky Sports F1’s live French GP schedule

Verstappen and Hamilton were among the drivers to weigh in on the topic on Thursday, with the Dutchman and championship leader unhappy with Pirelli’s statement.

“I think it’s very vague,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1 at Paul Ricard. “I think it just raises more questions.”

There will be increased monitoring of tyre pressures and temperatures from this weekend’s race at Paul Ricard as part of a new technical directive issued to teams by the FIA.

Although Pirelli confirmed that the teams adhered to the mandated parameters in Baku, the subsequent issuing of increased protocols has been viewed as an implication that some may have been finding ways to limit the rise in tyre pressure when on track during sessions to boost performance.

But Verstappen insisted: “We have the data we can see tyre pressures while driving. We gave it to them and we were not below the minimum.

“So from our side we didn’t do anything wrong as a team, I think that’s very important first of all to understand.

“I find it a little bit tough to take when it’s about safety and people could have been hurt, that they just say in a vague way that we don’t know what the teams are doing.

“We know what we have been doing, we showed it to them and it is within the limits.”

Verstappen said safety had to be the number one priority.

“For me I was very upset to not win, but it’s also about safety,” he continued. “Imagine if I would have crashed to the left [into the pit entrance in Baku], I think that would have been a really big impact at 200mph.

“I’m a little bit disappointed in that. When it’s about safety, everyone makes mistakes, we make mistakes about car setup, I make mistakes, I hit the wall, these things happen.

“When two crashes – which luckily everyone walked away from – happen and clearly both teams were operating within those limits, I don’t understand why you can’t say the teams didn’t do anything wrong.

“Everybody loves to race and everybody loves to go fast, but sometimes crashes can be very nasty and especially with a crash like that, we don’t want to see that again.”

Hamilton defends Pirelli; Other drivers also have say

The events of Baku proved the big topic of conversation on Thursday’s media day in the south of France.

Mercedes’ Hamilton said he welcomed the increased monitoring of tyres, although made clear that “we’ve been doing what we are supposed to be doing because the rules are very clear”.

“I was very surprised that they had to clarify those, obviously you can take what you want from that,” said Hamilton. “But I’m happy that they have acknowledged that they need to clarify it.”

Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Hamilton added: “The most important thing is how they police these things.

“It’s one thing writing a technical directive about it but making sure that you actually follow through and police and make sure people aren’t taking advantage of the situation.”

He also believes that Pirelli were not at fault for the situation in Baku.

“I think they have done a great job with the tyres this year,” said Hamilton. “They are more robust than before and, in this particular instance, I don’t think Pirelli are at fault.”

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who won the Azerbaijan race after team-mate Verstappen’s accident, said the matter was inevitably of concern to drivers.

“From what we’ve seen in Baku, all of the teams stuck to the regulations or what Pirelli has asked for us to do,” said Perez. “We know that Baku is a special place and so on, but still it’s a concern what happened.

“We will see what they come up with. It’s all about our safety on those moments.”

Meanwhile, asked if he had confidence in the structural integrity of the tyres, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel said: “The short answer will be I can’t say 100 per cent yes, and I can’t say 100 per cent no.”

Williams’ George Russell, who like Vettel is a director of the drivers’ body the GPDA, said it was “the duty of all of us to put an end to these issues”.

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