Motor racing-Pirelli suspects Baku blowouts could be due to debris

(Reuters) – Two high-speed tyre blowouts during Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix may have been caused by external factors such as debris, tyre supplier Pirelli said on Sunday.

Red Bull’s Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll both crashed out after rear-left tyres blew suddenly at speed on the same stretch of straight.

Pirelli’s F1 head Mario Isola said an inspection after the race was halted following Verstappen’s crash found that Mercedes’ seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton also had a damaged tyre.

“We need to clearly establish the facts behind the incidents,” Isola said.

“What we can say for now is that there was also a cut found on Hamilton’s tyre, and that it’s the rear-right tyre that actually works harder than the rear-left here.

“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.”

Isola said he understood the need for answers.

Verstappen angrily kicked the rear-left of his car after getting out of the wreckage but team bosses were careful not to speak of tyre failure.

“It looked like the (tyre) wear was all in good shape,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

“We were managing the tyre pretty well… it suddenly deflated. Whether it’s a bit of debris from the shunt earlier, you just don’t know. Let’s get the tyre back and look at it fully.”

Stroll crashed on lap 31 of 51 when he was the only driver still to pit. Verstappen’s blowout happened five laps from the end, with the race re-started with drivers on fresh tyres.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)