F1 faces "serious problem" over tyre failures, says Aston Martin

The Silverstone-based outfit suffered a high-speed tyre blow out with Lance Stroll at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with a Pirelli investigation concluding that it was caused by the running conditions of the rubber.

The suggestion is that Aston Martin’s car, plus the Red Bull which also suffered a blow out with Max Verstappen, was running with tyre pressures that were not as high as had been expected.

However, with Aston Martin clear that it followed the rules at all times and was above the minimum pressure laid out by Pirelli, Szafnauer says the situation is something that must be looked at to ensure there is no repeat.

“It’s a real and serious problem that we’ve got to get on top of,” he said. “I think we’re lucky to only break the car and not anything else. So, we’ve got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“We will follow the new prescriptions. We have always been within the parameters that both the FIA and Pirelli set for us.”

Asked if he was surprised that Pirelli had concluded that the trigger for the accident was that the pressures were not what was expected, Szafnauer said: “I’m surprised that that was the conclusion.

“We followed all the prescriptions to the letter, and we were never ever under the minimum pressure. So, we had stabilised pressures, they were higher [than advised]. That’s normal. That’s usually what happens.

“The pressures on the grid that were checked, were above the minimum. So yeah, I don’t know what their expectations were. But I would imagine their expectations are that the pressure comes up. But that’s exactly what happened with us.”

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal and CEO, Aston Martin F1, on the pit wall

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal and CEO, Aston Martin F1, on the pit wall

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Szafnauer’s concerns over safety come with Formula 1 drivers’ body the GPDA having written to the FIA, F1 and Pirelli to seek assurances about safety.

For while the debate about who should be responsible for what happened in Baku remains unresolved, the GPDA is clear that the safety of drivers must never be compromised in the quest for improved performance.

A statement from the GPDA said: “The GPDA is in constant communication with FIA, F1 and also Pirelli, and whenever an incident and/or accident happens we communicate with them and other relevant parties. Consequently after Baku we communicated with all stakeholders about the two accidents we witnessed.”

Although GPDA chairman Alex Wurz declined to elaborate on the contents of the letter, he was clear that the focus on safety was key.

“For the GPDA it remains a high-speed accident and therefore we request the involved stakeholders to apply the highest attention for short and long term improvements,” he said.

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