Mario Isola, Pirelli Formula 1 boss, is pretty sure that the tire failures seen in Baku were caused by debris on the track.
Lance Stroll and Max Verstappen both had a rear left tire puncture that forced them to retire. They were fitting the hard (white) tires during a long-stint of the Grand Prix.
Isola stated that Pirelli found a cut on Lewis Hamilton’s left rear tire when the cars stopped after the red flag, meaning that something similar might have happened to Stroll and Verstappen.
Moreover, the teams and the drivers did not notice anything weird with the tires, that suddenly failed. Isola believes that that is a clear sign of debris damaging the tires.
However, Isola added that Pirelli is still investigating to have a better understanding of what happened.
“We need to make an investigation, that is clear,” Isola told Motorsport.com. “What I have collected so far are just preliminary indications. It was sudden deflation both for Lance and for Max, without any warning.
“It was on the rear left tire, that is not the most stressed here, because it’s the rear right. And the other point if we talk about wear, the most worn tire is the front right. So it is not a matter of wear.
“Another important element is that we found on the rear left tire of Lewis Hamilton, another cut, quite a big one. This was at the red flag, so in the same stint where Max crashed.
“The cars came, they dismounted the tires to fit a new set, we checked the used tires, and we found a cut on the rear left.
“Luckily, this cut was not cutting the construction. And that’s why he didn’t lose pressure. So we have evidence of another tire with a cut.
“The other tires that have been used during the same thing for 30, 32, 33 laps are not showing any evidence of a potential problem. This is what I know at the moment.
“The other step is that obviously, we are air freighting the tires to Milan tomorrow to analyze them as soon as possible. And find the real motivation that can be debris, or can be anything else.”
Finally, Isola admitted that he understood why the drivers were concerned about the tire failures.
“It is almost impossible to design a tire that can resist any type of debris if it is debris. If it is not debris, we have to consider our counteractions.
“But I fully understand that drivers crashing at that speed are worried, that is clear. I’m worried aware as well.
“I believe it was debris because they didn’t have any warning that there was something strange on the car, on the suspension, on the tire, on the brake, nothing was giving any sign of failure. And it was a sudden failure.
“So considering the rear left is not the most stressed tire, the cut we found on Lewis’s tire and so on, these are indications that are taking us in that direction.
“But we don’t want to exclude anything because as Max said, these things shouldn’t happen.”