Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton’s rivalry with Max Verstappen blows up as pair row over Pirelli tyre failures in Azerbaijan GP

LEWIS HAMILTON’s rivalry with Max Verstappen has blown up with F1’s very own deflategate.

Verstappen was sent crashing out of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix when his tyre burst without warning, sending him into a wall at 200mph.

Hamilton and Verstappen are fierce rivals
Red Bull say they adhered to all the guidelines

Tyre suppliers Pirelli say their investigation found no fault with the tyre and blamed “running conditions”, with the FIA responding by ramping up tyre pressures and checks for this weekend’s French GP.

And while Red Bull say they adhered to all the guidelines, Hamilton cryptically suggested the problem WAS caused by Verstappen running lower pressures for more grip.

And the world champion, who is second in the standings behind Verstappen, called on F1‘s governing body to start policing it.

He said: “Every weekend whenever there is a failure, they always put the pressures up – so that tells you something.

“More often than not, [it’s] that the tyres are not being run at the pressures that are being asked. We didn’t have a problem with our tyres.

“I think Pirelli have done a great job with the tyres this year, they’re more robust than before, and I think in this particular instance, I don’t think Pirelli are at fault.

“At the end of the day, safety is always the priority and for me and for my team, there have been clear rules and guidelines as to where we have to operate.

“So I was very surprised to see that [the FIA] had to clarify those, which obviously, you can take what you want from that.

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“I’m happy that they have acknowledged that they need to clarify it but what’s really, really important from now is how they police it, because they’ve not been policing how the tyres are being used, tyre pressures, tyre temperatures, and we need to do better.

“We need to see them really follow through and be really vigilant to make sure that it’s equal across the field.”

Meanwhile, Verstappen hit back at his claim and adamant that Red Bull did nothing and that Pirelli should “look at themselves”.

He added: “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, so there was nothing to be found there.

“[Pirelli] cannot put the blame on us, and I think they have to look at themselves.”

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