Two major crashes occured at the fastest part of the Baku City Circuit during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.Lance Stroll, and later Max Verstappen crashed without warning as they approached the pit straight, due to left-rear tyre failures.
The responses of the drivers and teams on the radios revealed a surprising mixture of confusion and concern over how the incidents were handled.
In both cases, there was a significant delay between the crashes occuring and the Safety Car being deployed. When Verstappen crashed, Sebastian Vettel’s race engineer warned him of the incident as he passed it, yet the Safety Car wasn’t deployed until he reached turn 16, almost a full lap later.
When Stroll crashed, several drivers reported seeing Safety Car boards long before the Safety Car was officially deployed and teams were notified on the timing screens.
During the delays between the crashes and subsequent Safety Car periods, double waved yellow flags were shown at the scenes. But in both cases some drivers slowed far more than others in response.
The cause of the crashes and the possibility further incidents might occur also prompted concern from the drivers. George Russell expected the race to be red-flagged after Stroll’s crash as several drivers had passed through the crash scene and potentially run over debris, damaging their tyres.
Vettel quickly suspected his team mate’s crash had been caused by a tyre failure. Following Verstappen’s crash, as he mentioned in the post-race press conference, Vettel said he was concerned another driver would suffer a similar failure.
On that occasion the race was stopped, which allowed drivers to fit fresh tyres, and the final two laps of the race were completed without further incidents.
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and
Stroll: “Get me out of this place”
After Stroll’s tyre failure and crash, his car came to a rest approaching the pit lane entrance. While his crash scene was initially covered by yellow flags and, later, a Safety Car, he wanted it to be red-flagged, calling on the attention of the team’s sporting director Andy Stevenson.
|Stroll||Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. red flag, red flag. Get me out of this place of the track.|
|Joyce||Red flag quickly Andy.|
|Joyce||ERS state bravo, ERS state bravo. Stay in the car, Lance. Stay in the car at the moment. Dangerous place, stay in the car. People can see you.|
|Joyce||Safety Car, Safety Car now. Safety Car now.|
|Stroll||I got a puncture|
|Joyce||Copy that, copy that.|
|Joyce||There is a gap now to get out the car.|
Gasly: ‘Do we pit’?
Pierre Gasly was one of the first drivers to pass Stroll’s crash scene and wanted to know whether he should pit to take advantage of the likely Safety Car period. However he passed the pit lane entrance so soon the team weren’t able to react.
|Gasly||Safety Car, Safety Car! Do we pit?|
|Hamelin||Box, box, box.|
|Gasly||Fuck, for fuck’s sake.|
|Hamelin||OK, that’s OK.|
|Hamelin||It’s just a yellow at the moment, just a yellow, keep the head down.|
|Hamelin||Safety Car. They are putting Safety Car but I don’t have anything on the [unclear].|
Early Safety Car boards
Several drivers saw signs indicating the Safety Car was coming out before they were able to pit.
|Jego||We’ll keep you posted but big crash from Stroll in the main straight.|
|Latifi||Safety Car, Safety Car.|
|Jego||I don’t see it.|
|Latifi||I see the Safety Car boards, but I don’t see the lights.|
|Jego||Pit entry is closed, stay out, pit entry is closed. Probably a lot of debris on the start-finish|
|Latifi||Is there a Safety Car though? I don’t see the lights.|
|Jego||No, it is not Safety Car, no. So stay positive, pit entry is closed.|
|Lambiase||There’s a big accident on the start finish straight.|
|Verstappen||They show Safety Car but I don’t have a message.|
|Lambiase||Continue for the moment. Yep.|
|Lambiase||Okay, now Safety Car deployed, dash positive, dash positive.|
|Lambiase||OK, so Stroll is in the barriers on the start for the straight on the left hand side to stay to the right line.|
|Lambiase||At the moment the pit lane entry is closed so we’re staying out, staying out. If you see it open very late, then box, okay. If you see the message that the pit lane is open late, you can box, otherwise, stay out, stay out.|
|Lambiase||If you are told to come through the pit lane, then we will change your tyres.|
|Lambiase||So stay out for the moment.|
|Lambiase||So stay right, Max stay right, there’s a front wing right in front of you. Stay right. Good man.|
Vettel: ‘Did his tyre blow?’
|Cronin||Just watch Lance ahead, there’s a shunt ahead, just be careful.|
|Cronin||Safety Car, Safety Car, get the delta positive.|
|Cronin||To keep temperature in the tyres, you can go to out four, out four. You can go to ‘heat’, actually, go to ‘heat’. Now working hard on tyre temps, maintain tyre temps. Lance is all okay.|
|Vettel||Good. What happened? Did his tyre blow?|
|Cronin||We’re not sure yet, we’re not sure.|
|Cronin||We can have a bit more braking.|
|Cronin||Just make sure you’re right on your delta when you go past Safety Car one and two.|
|Cronin||Actually, pit entry’s closed so you’re fine on your delta, it’s just about tyre temp.|
Norris: ‘Yuki didn’t even lift’
During the race a radio exchange between McLaren and race director Michael Masi was broadcast, in which McLaren complained AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda had failed to slow sufficiently in response to the double waved yellow flags.
Lando Norris drew the team’s attention to Tsunoda’s reaction to Stroll’s crash:
|Joseph||Double yellow flags. Debris on the main straight. There is a car on the left-hand side.|
|Norris||Yuki didn’t even lift. Safety Car.|
|Joseph||Safety Car deployed. Safety Car deployed. Okay, drive to the delta, drive to the delta.|
|Norris||They didn’t… the Safety Car boards were out on the start-finish but Yuki stayed flat-out. So I’ve lost so much time.|
|Joseph||Okay, understood. It’s a safety car so everyone will bunch back up again, so don’t worry about that. The pit lane entry is closed, please confirm.|
|Norris||Okay yeah confirm. The tyres are okay I would say, a lot of graining front-right, not clearing up I don’t think. I would say it’s okay for a restart.|
|Joseph||Just to confirm, we’ve informed race direction about Tsunoda not slowing down in front.|
|Norris||Yeah it was double waved yellows and he didn’t even slow down.|
Russell: ‘They’ve got to red flag this’
Russell was concerned at the possibility of punctures arising from the Stroll crash:
|Urwin||Double yellow on the main straight.|
|Russell||Safety Car boards are out.|
|Urwin||The pit entry is closed, the pit entry is closed, debris on the straight. Safety Car is out. Stay out. Pit entry is closed. Debris on main straight.|
|Russell||Alright get onto me about brakes.|
|Urwin||Brakes are fine, the brakes are hot, it’s the front tyres, maintain temp in the front. Debris on the main straight.|
|Russell||They’ve got to red flag this, surely, we’ve been driving through a load of debris.|
Leclerc: ‘Why are they waiting?’
When Verstappen crashed, Leclerc was mystified by race control’s decision to wait so long before sending the Safety Car out. This meant several drivers approached the crash scene at speed, where they were shown double waved yellow flags indicating they should ‘slow down and be prepared to stop’.
|Marcos Padros||Go to the left, left on the main straight. Right, to the right. Er, crash in the main straight, on the left, stay to the left.|
|Marcos Padros||We are still racing.|
|Leclerc||That’s a joke, that’s a joke, get the fucking Safety Car out straight away, why the fuck are they waiting?|
|Marcos Padros||So Safety Car deployed.|
Vettel: ‘The question is who is next?’
Vettel, who has experienced sudden tyre failures on three occasions in 2015, 2016 and 2017, was concerned by the possibility more would occur.
|Cronin||Careful, Verstappen ahead, there’s a crash.|
|Cronin||Safety Car, Safety Car, slow down and get your delta positive. We expect it to be through the pit lane. It is through the pit lane, so make sure you use the limiter as you come in the pit lane.|
|Cronin||The Safety Car will meet you at the end of the pit lane.|
|Vettel||Is he okay?|
|Cronin||Yes all okay, he’s out of the car.|
|Cronin||Just pit limiter.|
|Cronin||Perez ahead might be stopping.|
|Cronin||You can go to out two when you’re ready, out two.|
|Cronin||So same at last time work as hard as you can on tyres, but safely. Go back to out one, go back to out one.|
|Cronin||Sebastian, we do think it’s been a left-rear puncture on both Verstappen and Lance.|
|Vettel||Well it’s not safe to run these tyres then, is it?|
|Vettel||The question is, who is next?|
|Cronin||They will be back through the pit lane again. Red flag, red flag.|
2021 F1 season
- Red Bull Racing spent £230m during Verstappen’s title-winning 2021 campaign
- ‘I can’t box?’: Hamilton and Verstappen’s 2021 Abu Dhabi GP radio transcript
- Abu Dhabi’s legacy one year on: How the controversial 2021 finale changed F1
- The case for changing F1’s penalty points system as Gasly nears ban
- Aston Martin fined $450,000 for F1 budget cap violation