Pirelli’s Mario Isola Talks Baku Blowouts

Pirelli signage

After high-profile tyre blowouts in Baku for race leader Max Verstappen and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, Pirelli has been under the microscope as people rightly want to know what went wrong so it can be prevented from happening again. 

During the week a statement was issued by Pirelli explaining that the cause of the tyre failure was the failing of the tyre…

Ahead of the French Grand Prix, Pirelli’s head of motorsport Mario Isola helped to clarify the situation. 

“At the beginning [of our investigation] the idea was there was some debris cutting the construction, because obviously we had the evidence of other tyres with some cuts on the tread. But then when we finalised the investigation, we found that… the failure was not related to the cuts that we found not only on Lewis [Hamilton’s] tyre, but also on one tyre from Sebastian [Vettel]. Those cuts were due to debris for sure, but the debris was not sharp enough to cut the construction.

“What happened in Baku is simply that the running conditions expected [i.e. the conditions when the cars were moving] were different compared to the actual running conditions, and that created the failures. The failures were a circumferential cut on the inside shoulder.

“When you have a lot of energy going through the tyres, with the pressure that is lower compared to the expectation, the result is that on the side wall, you have what we call standing waves and standing waves are putting a lot of energy into the shoulder of the tyre and at a certain point the tyre failed, and that is what happened and the reason why we had this situation in Baku.

“In this case, we didn’t achieve the conditions not because teams were doing something against the regulations, but because they were looking, as usual, for performance, and that created a different scenario compared to what we were expecting. [But] we didn’t say [in Tuesday’s press release] that the teams did something that is not permitted in the regulations.”

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Lance Stroll was quite diplomatic when asked about the findings, adding: “I don’t really have much to say about it. We are running our pressures at the legal, prescribed pressures from Pirelli and there was nothing wrong with our car during the race that we could see. And Pirelli now are just going to bump up the pressures and yeah, they believe that’s going to be a better solution for the safety this weekend.

“I just hope we don’t see more blowouts for whatever reason that might be. It’s not fun at high speed to have unexpected punctures, whatever you want to call it.”

However, after losing a certain race win, Max Verstappen was a bit blunter in his assessment of things when he said: “The only thing I can say is from our side, the team did everything like they should have done. They followed all the guidelines with tyre pressures and stuff, it was nothing to be found there.

“For sure we’ll go up on pressures here for this weekend, I’m 100% sure we will. It probably had something to do with that, what happened in Baku but it would also be nice to know if it was tyre pressure-related.

“They [Pirelli] explained they don’t have measurement tools during the race, we gave them our tyre pressures and they were within the limits they set. If those limits are not correct, there’s nothing we can do about it, we just follow what is possible within the rules. If that means we have to go up on pressures, we will, everyone will go up on pressures.”

No matter the reasons given by Isola and Pirelli, all eyes will be firmly on the tyres this weekend at Circuit Paul Ricard…

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