“Zero warning.”
That was the message from Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley to race director Michael Masi.
Zero warning.
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In 2021, it is absolutely unacceptable that a tyre can fail during a race with zero warning during a Formula 1 race, where cars are going above 300 km/h.
For it to happen twice in the same race on two different cars, but in the same place, is a complete and utter disgrace.
Pirelli said at the start of the season, when there were concerns raised by drivers, that making the compound softer is the only way to cope with the extreme downforce of the cars.
There have to be serious questions asked of Pirelli now. An investigation has to follow.
Drivers are at risk and we are extremely fortunate that both Lance Stroll and Max Verstappen were able to walk away unharmed after suddenly losing complete control of their cars when their tyres failed.
For clarity, both sets of tyres that were on the cars of Verstappen and Stroll were rated for 40 laps. Stroll had done 30 laps when his failed, Verstappen had done 32. Remember that some of the Dutchman’s laps were done behind a safety car after Stroll had crashed out, an incident that Pirelli said did not concern them.
Pirelli and the FIA need to investigate and there needs to be a full debrief. Formula 1 is an inherently dangerous sport and it cannot claim to have its drivers’ best interest at heart if there are not changes.
"I didn't feel anything up until the moment that I suddenly went to the right, the tyre just blew off the rim and it's not a nice impact to have, it's quite a dangerous place to have a tyre blowout at that speed," said Verstappen after the race, admitting that he was “p***ed off”.
"For sure [there will be talks with Pirelli] but we know the result from that conversation already and that's a bit hard to accept.
"It will be related to debris, it's like that. I'm sure there will be talks, Pirelli isn't happy with what happened here today, but it doesn't change anything to the race and the result I got here.
"Of course I'm p***ed off because of what happened today. It was a fairly easy race for me. Sometimes this sport is very harsh when things like this happen, it's s***."
The Dutchman wasn’t wrong, even after the race Pirelli boss Mario Isola said that initial investigations revealed that it was debris.
It may well turn out that there was no failure and it was sheer bad luck, nothing more. Pirelli did specifically reinforce the tyres to avoid this kind of issues but for it to happen twice raises questions.
In the end, it did not matter in terms of the championship race. When the restart eventually came, Hamilton’s brakes were smoking, something the TV crews pointed out, and then, quite incredibly, he locked up and brought an end to his run of 54 points finishes in a row.
As well as the tyre manufacturers there have to be questions asked of race director Michael Masi, who twice did not bring out the safety car fast enough.
Charles Leclerc was caught on radio saying that it was “a joke” that the safety car wasn’t brought out straight away following the Verstappen incident.
In the clip with Wheatley we heard the Red Bull man recommend the red flag to the session, allowing all drivers to change their tyres for safety purposes. A selfless move, risking the team’s potential victory for the good of the grid, but why was he recommending it to Masi?
On a side note, we must give huge kudos to Formula 1 for releasing these radio exchanges for us, the Red Bull one was fascinating as was Masi’s stern put down of McLaren trying to point out an infraction by Yuki Tsunoda.

In other news...

Let’s talk about the racing, shall we? Because it was pretty good until the stop. Verstappen was driving beautifully, described by commentator and former driver Paul di Resta as “doing the things that Hamilton does.”
The Brit had a fierce battle with Perez behind Verstappen and he was let down again by a sloppy pit-stop that meant he was behind both Red Bulls when everyone had stopped.
He then produced a totally uncharacteristic error, leaving the magic button turned on that caused his breaks to wildly overheat, and then lock up. It’s extremely rare for Hamilton and Mercedes not to capitalise on a chance to punish their rivals, a sign perhaps of just how hard Hamilton is having to work. He sounded completely spent on the team radio, which demonstrated just how much he was having to put in to match the Red Bulls.
When he was asked after the race what had happened, he said: "I'm not entirely sure, but I hit some sort of switch that caused only the front brakes to work.
"There's a button we have to help keep the front brakes up [to temperature] and, as Perez pulled over, I reacted and accidentally latched on the switch. It just locked up and I went straight on."
The driver of the day however was unanimously Sebastian Vettel, the German rolling back the years to claim an improbable podium, this after starting outside of the points. The first for Aston Martin.
Vettel at one stage was nearly threatening Hamilton before the Verstappen crash and Aston Martin appeared to have got their strategy spot on before they were undone by the tyres of Stroll.
It’s Vettel’s first podium since Turkey and caps a terrific couple of weeks following the fifth he achieved at Monaco, perhaps a sign that things are finally starting to click for the four-time world champion and his new team.
And while we’re praising former world champions, a sixth-placed finish for Fernando Alonso is pretty impressive and hopefully a sign of things to come, although this column has falsely prophesised a resurgence before. .
Elsewhere Pierre Gasly continued to cement his position as one of the true bests of the rest, rounding off the podium for AlphaTauri and seeing off Leclerc in a thrilling battle during the restart.
A mention for his team-mate Tsunoda as well, who showed really impressive growth after a couple of really tough results. Tsunoda has been working hard with his engineers according to reports and a seventh-placed finish is a great example of why teams take a chance on a youngster when he has the sort of pace the Japanese has.
It also shouldn’t be overlooked that while Verstappen was hugely aided by his team-mate, Hamilton was badly let down by his. A bad couple of races for the Finn, who will be hoping his fortunes pick up soon.
In the end we got a fascinating two-lap sprint following a fascinating race. Never change Baku, you never let us down.
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02/12/2022 AT 12:21