Verstappen had no warning before Azerbaijan tyre failure
"I didn't feel anything strange with the car and then suddenly the left rear went"
The tyre failure which cost Max Verstappen certain victory in Azerbaijan on Sunday came with no warning he said afterwards.
The Dutchman was five laps from extending his lead over Lewis Hamilton in the championship race before his left-rear tyre exploded down the pit-straight - the same tyre which blew to eliminate Aston Martin's Lance Stroll earlier in the race.
Verstappen looked on course for his third win of the season and potentially opening a 16-point advantage over Hamilton, with the reigning champion in third behind the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
The race was red flagged following Verstappen's failure, allowing the teams to change potentially dangerous tyres for a two-lap shoot-out. Fortunately for Verstappen, Hamilton's bold attempt to take the lead at the first corner saw him out-brake himself and drop to last, meaning he would also fail to score and Verstappen held onto his slender championship advantage.
“To retire from the lead of the race so close to the finish is pretty frustrating," said Verstappen. "I didn’t feel anything strange with the car and then suddenly the left rear went and I was in the wall quite hard. It’s not a nice place to crash and we don’t know the exact cause yet, I’m sure it will be fully investigated.
"Up until that point it was a great day, the car felt perfect and I was comfortable in the lead so it felt like it would be an easy 1-2 but there are no guarantees in this sport.
"It’s a shame that we missed out on the opportunity to make the gap bigger to Lewis today in the championship as we know when we get back to the normal tracks Mercedes will be very strong again but it just goes to show anything can happen."
The issues for Verstappen and Hamilton though allowed Perez to win his first race for Red Bull Racing, a result which eased the blow for the Dutchman.
He added: "Of course I am frustrated from my side not to win but I was very happy to see Checo up there. He did everything that the team could have wanted today.
"He had a great start and then we both got past Lewis in the pits. I heard he had to defend for most of the race, so if I couldn’t win, I’m glad he could. He’s a great guy and a great teammate so it was good to see him smiling on the podium and having his first win for Red Bull."