Drivers hit out at Baku tyre investigation

Max Verstappen following his high speed crash

A number of Formula 1’s leading drivers have criticised Pirelli and its response to two tyre failures during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix last time out.

Max Verstappen crashed out of the lead when his left-rear tyre gave way at full speed, almost within sight of the flag.

That followed a similar incident for Lance Stroll which ended the Canadian’s race in dramatic style.

An investigation from Pirelli followed, the Italian company publishing its determination earlier this week.

Though the statement stopped short of pointing fingers at Red Bull and Aston Martin, it implied teams were operating outside of the parameters set by the tyre company.

“It was just a bit vague, what came out,” Verstappen said of Pirelli’s findings, his team having made similar ruminations.

“The only thing I could say is, from our side, I think the team did everything like they should have done.

“I mean, they followed all the guidelines with tyre pressures and stuff, so there was nothing to be found there.

“You know, for sure we’ll go up on [tyre] pressures here [French Grand Prix] for this weekend,” he added.

“I’m actually 100 percent sure we will – probably it has something to do with what happened in Baku, but it would also be nice to just know if it was tyre pressure related.

“That would be a bit easier to understand than the explanation we got so far, because the team didn’t do anything wrong.”

Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, team-mate to Stroll, echoed the world championship leader.

“We’ve been doing what Pirelli has asked us to do,” he argued.

“The bottom line is that I think everybody gets controlled on the grid, whether they are fine on pressures or not.

“We know that we were, so that’s the most important thing.”

Red Bull’s Perez added that he believed all teams operated within Pirelli’s parameters in Baku.

“We stuck to the regulations, or what Pirelli has asked for us to do,” the Mexican said.

“And it’s a concern – we know that Baku is a special place and so on but still it’s a concern.”

A technical directive issued to teams ahead of this weekend’s race has reaffirmed the regulations surrounding how tyres are treated by teams.

For Hamilton, who is locked in battle with Verstappen for the world championship, that is evidence that some teams were operating outside what is permitted.

“For me, and for my team, there have been clear rules and guidelines as to where we have to operate,” he said.

“So I was very surprised, naturally to see that they had to clarify those, which obviously you can take what you want from that.

“But I’m happy that they have acknowledged that they need to clarify it.

“I think what’s really, really important from now is how they police it, because they’ve not been policing how the tyres have been used – tyre pressures, tyre temperatures – and we need to do better.

“It’s great that they’ve done a TD [technical directive], but it’s the action now we need to see them really follow through and be really vigilant to make sure that it’s equal across the field.”

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