Domenicali: Teams ‘need to be respectful’ of Pirelli

Henry Valantine
Max Verstappen FP3 crash Azerbaijan GP PA

Esteban Ocon suggests brake-dependent cars behind high number of crashes in Baku.

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali says teams “need to be respectful” of Pirelli, who came under fire following two high-speed tyre problems in Baku.

Domenicali says he “can understand the frustration” of Max Verstappen after a left rear tyre failure six laps from the end of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix cost him what looked like a nailed-on race victory, the Dutchman saying after the race his crash could have potentially been “life-threatening”.

With Lance Stroll also losing out through a left rear failure and both drivers crashing out at almost top speed on the 2.2-kilometre start/finish straight in Baku, Domenicali emphasised “the need to be respectful” of Pirelli while they conduct an internal investigation as to how the accidents occurred, to “be prudent and cautious” and wait for the results – with the tyre company provisionally blaming the accidents on loose debris on the circuit.

“There is a lot of trust in what Pirelli can do,” Domenicali told BBC Sport, while adding he feels the manufacturer will build more raceable tyres next season that will not be as sensitive at high temperatures.

Domenicali hosted a meeting with the current drivers before the season started, clarifying that any issues they have should be brought up “in the proper place where if it’s correct, we can discuss and find solutions”, which suggests they should not air their grievances in public to avoid any potential PR disasters.

“You know very well the magnitude of the wrong word in the wrong place,” Domenicali said. “That can be very difficult to recover and this is what we should avoid.

“We are running a business where we know drivers represent the most important voices and protagonists. [But] of course you may have the good friction and a good antagonistic discussion which is part of the game, which makes this business even more interesting.”

Lance Stroll Azerbaijan GP crash 2021
Lance Stroll Azerbaijan GP crash 2021

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Another challenge for Formula 1 has been to reach out to a younger generation of potential fans, with one solution being trialled this season being the three test sprint qualifying events, the first of which comes at Silverstone in July.

Domenicali and Ross Brawn have previously discussed the idea of rolling out sprint qualifying at selected events to make certain races “highlighted or given more value” on the calendar, although their previous use of the term ‘grand slam’ was merely to put across “the idea of the project”, rather than giving them an official name.

Brawn has also said he doesn’t want sprint qualifying to “cannibalise” a race weekend, and Domenicali has been adamant the sport will not implement anything artificial for the sake of it.

“We have no rush,” Domenicali clarified when speaking about ways of bringing new fans to the sport. “We don’t want to make a mistake. We have all of 2021 to make sure we do the right thing.

“The intention is to find the best solution for everyone. Nobody has the magic bullet or is presumptuous enough to [think they have] unique solutions.”

If there is anything you need to know about sprint qualifying and what it will look like, we’ve got you covered with our full guide here.

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