Max Verstappen F1 crash: How it happened, what has been said and why are the tyres a problem?

Max Verstappen displays his anger after seeing victory slip away

Credit: REUTERS

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix may have been won by Sergio Perez but the huge talking point was Max Verstappen crashing out when in the lead with just five laps remaining following a horror tyre failure at 200mph.

The Red Bull driver had taken control of the race in Baku and looked poised to win his third race of the 2021 season. But the puncture sent the Dutch star into the concrete wall on the right-hand side of the start-finish straight and ended his hopes of glory on the city circuit. He was able to walk away from the high-speed crash, kicking the tyre which had failed, with the safety car deployed, and the race red-flagged on lap 49.

The drivers were permitted to take on fresh tyres for the re-start, with Perez starting from pole ahead of Lewis Hamilton – who ultimately finished out of the points after locking his brakes – before taking the chequered flag. 

The focus, however, will be on what happened to Verstappen not least because his tyre failure came minutes after Lance Stroll’s equally spectacular blowout. 

What happened?

Verstappen was in the lead on lap 46 of 51 in the Azerbaijan capital and looking good for the victory. He was storming down the start-finish straight when he inexplicably lost control slamming into the the wall on the righthand side. 

He was thankfully able to walk away from the crash unaided but having had the race in his hands he was understandably furious that victory had been snatched from him.

The anger was easy to understand – having got the jump on Hamilton in the pits he drove a faultless race and was cruising to victory. The Red Bull man’s frustration was clear for everyone to see as he took out his anger on the vehicle. 

Verstappen is able to get out of the car

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Verstappen looks incredulously at the failed tyre that caused his crash

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Verstappen kicks the offending tyre knowing it's almost definitely cost him victory

Credit: REUTERS

The Verstappen incident was shocking enough, but it came a few laps after after a similar incident involving Lance Stroll. On lap 31 the Aston Martin driver was racing at 200mph when his tyre punctured causing a nasty-looking crash. It took time for Stroll to get out of the car and no car was able to stop as the crash occurred towards the pit lane entry. The safety car was deployed and the race was ultimately able to restart 10 laps before Verstappen’s higher-profile crash.

Big accident for Lance Stroll.

A hefty impact, but he's out of the car and okay 👍

📺: @SkySportsF1
📱: https://t.co/CkqLNAZAQx#SkyF1 #AzerbaijanGP 🇦🇿 pic.twitter.com/Ok5cyKKGz1

— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) June 6, 2021

What was said?

Before the race had even finished some well-known views were being aired on social media. With Romain Grosjean taking to Twitter to say that the two occurrences of tyre blowouts were a ‘joke’ – and not in a funny way.

#joke

— Romain Grosjean (@RGrosjean) June 6, 2021

Gary Anderson, former Jordan and Jaguar designer, also said the tyre failures were worrying adding that lives could have been lost if the blowouts had taken place in other parts of the track. 

I have never been critical of the Pirelli tyres, but this situation today really does need a very deep investigation to understand the cause. We endanger lives when tyres fail

— Gary Anderson (@GaryAndersonF1) June 6, 2021

After the race was finally done and everyone thankfully safe and back in the paddock there were plenty of opinions flying about regarding the tyre turmoil.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner was remarkably calm after the race, having seen 25 points slip through the hands of Verstappen and his team. The Verstappen incident was obviously tempered by Perez’s win, but Horner admitted the race had been a stressful experience 

"I think I’ve aged about 20 years. We were on for our first 1-2 since 2016. Boom, the tyre went, we don’t know why. Let’s get the tyre back, look at it fully. The world just dropped from under us."

Verstappen’s crash benefited Lewis Hamilton’s world title hopes, the defending champion remaining four points behind his Red Bull rival. But the Briton was only too aware of his good fortune resulting from Verstappen’s bad fortune.  

"I think it’s…yeah, it’s very unfortunate for Max. Today is a good stroke of bad luck, we’ll try to regroup and come back stronger next race."

Perez was the other driver to capitalise on Verstappen’s misfortune and even he was able to admit his team-mate would have probably won had the tyre stayed inflated. 

"I’m sorry for Max, he had a tremendous race and deserved the win."

As for Verstappen himself? Well the broken heart emoji probably underplays the rage he feels at the moment, but the Dutchman was magnanimous toward the winner, his Red Bull team-mate Perez. 

💔on my own race… But happy for the team and a huge congrats to @SChecoPerez on the win 💪 The car, pit stops and strategy were amazing again, thanks to @redbullracing. Not much more to say at this time other than we’ll keep pushing until the end ⚔️ 🇦🇿 #AzerbaijanGP pic.twitter.com/Cwxp76LVZO

— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) June 6, 2021

What happens next?

Questions will undoubtedly be asked of Formula One’s tyre supplier, Pirelli, after two high-speed blow outs within minutes of each other. Indeed, Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley wanted FIA race chief Michael Masi to stop the race – allowing every car a free tyre change, rather than continue under the Safety Car –  doubtless fearing another dangerous puncture.

On Friday, Pirelli requested that the rear pressures be raised from 19psi to 20psi, citing concerns over wear, which was higher than expected. 

"The severity that we measured on telemetry is higher than the simulation," Pirelli’s Mario Isola told Motorsport.com.  "What we can see from the telemetry is that the teams are stressing the tyres more – we need the real data to judge the real stress on tyres, otherwise we have to rely only on the simulation," he added. 

There will need to be investigations as to why two tyres punctured within 15 laps of each other – was there debris on the track that caused one or both tyres to blowout? If debris wasn’t the cause then what was? 

There is less than two weeks until the F1 circus touches down in France and the teams will want answers from Pirelli before practice at Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet gets under way. 

 

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