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today is Dec 10, 2022

Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll are going into today’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix confident the dramatic, high-speed tyre failures they experienced last year will not be repeated.

The pair were both pitched nose-first into barriers at the fastest point on the Baku City Circuit after experiencing similar left-rear tyre failures during the race.

An investigation into the failures by F1’s official tyre supplier Pirelli led to the introduction of new operating instructions for teams intended to ensure they stick within pressure limits during races.

F1 has introduced a new tyre specification since last year, switching from 13-inch tyres to 18-inches. No failures have occured during practice or qualifying for today’s race, but the same was also true ahead of last year’s grand prix.

Going into the weekend, Verstappen was confident the problem he experienced last year would not recur. “No, because it [was] not our fault,” he said. “So, there’s nothing we can do.

“We have completely different tyres anyway, this year, so the tyres are going to behave anyway very, very different.”

Stroll was also confident the tyre failures seen last year will not be repeated today.

“I don’t think we were doing anything wrong last year in terms of strategy, I think it was an unexpected tyre failure,” he said. “And I hope it doesn’t happen again.

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“It wasn’t fun having a tyre failure at those speed. We had great pace and we were on for a good race and those kinds of things are never fun. So hopefully it doesn’t happen again.”

Following the first day of practice on Friday, Pirelli issued revised tyre guidelines to teams, instructing them to increase their minimum rear tyre pressures to 22.5psi. The manufacturer’s head of motorsport, Mario Isola, said they had found “nothing unexpected” in their tyre inspections after practice.

“We decided to raise the rear pressure by one psi because the telemetry data we received after P2 are showing an increased severity compared to the simulation, so obviously we can react with the pressure,” he explained. “We had a little bit of abrasion, depending on teams and drivers.”

Pirelli has brought the three softest tyres in its range for today’s race. The hard tyre compound is the C3.

“I believe that all the three compounds are working well,” Isola added. “We don’t have a lot of data on the hard because teams were a lot more focused on the medium and the soft. I’m expecting a one stop race so they need to understand which are the limits of these two compounds.”

Isola explained Pirelli has had to adjust its guidance on tyre use as the teams have improved the performance of their cars quickly since the new generation of designs were introduced this year.

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“We have a new product, we have new cars,” he said. “Last year we were testing with the mule cars that were obviously different and also developing the downforce in a different way. That’s why last year with the mule cars we used lower pressure compared to this year.

“Now we have simulations coming from the teams, the cars are quite faster. If you compare the lap times from last year to this year, in general, they are not as much slower than one second per lap. That means that the performance is quite good.

“Consider that the teams are uploading their simulations with a target of the performance at the end of the year, so we are already closer to the estimated end-of-year performance.

“Our system to define the prescriptions is quite robust. We are using the same system that we have used in the past but it’s applied to the new products and the new package. That’s why you can find different pressure from last year to this era.”

He pointed out Pirelli has also increased its tyre pressures previously in the season. “I fully understand that after what happened last year here in Baku a lot of people were focused on the delta pressure here,” he said. “But if you compare Monaco, we had an increase of pressure in Monaco on a low-severity circuit and that is a consequence of the new package and the new product.

“So we define the pressure always in the same way. I don’t believe that is affecting specifically one team or another team, it’s one psi difference to compensate this additional severity that we have seen in the telemetry data from yesterday.”

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