The Red Bull Formula 1 team believes the tyre that burst on Max Verstappen’s car four laps from the end of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix should have made the finish ‘more than comfortably’.
Verstappen was on course for a commanding victory in a Red Bull one-two ahead of Sergio Perez in Baku when his left-rear tyre gave away on the start/finish straight with four laps to go.
He was running a set of hards that had been fitted at the end of lap 11 of the 51-lap race.
Verstappen speculated that Pirelli might suggest the problem was caused by debris from Lance Stroll’s earlier crash, but expressed scepticism about that possibility.
“It just literally blew up,” he said. “I expect of course they will say it’s debris.
“But we already did quite a few laps and everybody is taking the same lines, I don’t think it’s debris but probably they will blame it on that.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter, these things shouldn’t happen.”
Asked whether the tyres had been approaching their limit when Verstappen crashed, team principal Christian Horner replied: “Oh no, they could have lasted easily.
“From the durability that we could see and from the way that Max was driving the car, it should have been more than comfortable.
“From what we could see in the race, you can see the tyre wasn’t being abused, the temperatures were all good.
“So his race engineers basically just only just checked in with him just make sure everything was under control and then boom. It was totally unexpected.”
Verstappen agreed, saying that radio messages about tyre temperatures earlier in the race had just been routine information.
“[The message] ‘watch the tyres’ is about just tyre management,” he told Sky Sports F1. “I didn’t feel anything up until the moment that I suddenly went to the right. The tyre just blew off the rim.
“It’s not a nice accident to have, it’s a dangerous place to have a tyre blow out at that speed. But all fine with me. The car not so much.”
Horner believes Pirelli has a good chance of identifying the precise cause of the incident.
“The good thing is the tyre has remained largely intact so at least we have the evidence,” he said.
“If it is a bit of debris that’s caused the puncture or something else at least we have all the evidence to be able to piece together the cause.”