This Time, It's Aston Martin's Turn to Point Fingers Over F1 Tire Pressure Wars

Photo credit: Peter Fox - Getty Images
Photo credit: Peter Fox - Getty Images

Aston Martin team principal Otmar Szafnauer hopes the outcome of the French GP will silence those who suspect that his team may have been finding ways around the tire-usage guidelines imposed by Pirelli.

After Baku, where Aston Martin's Lance Stroll and Red Bull's Max Verstappen suffered near-identical high-speed, left-rear-tire blowouts, Pirelli suggested that the teams had found clever ways to run lower tire pressures that those directed by Formula 1's tire manufacturer.

As a result, a swathe of tougher guidelines was introduced, but Aston Martin boss Szafnauer insists Aston Martin did nothing wrong in the first place.

"In Paul Ricard, both of our drivers did long stints," Szafnauer said. "Hopefully that will silence those who argued that we are somehow circumventing the regulations in terms of dealing with these tires. We have never broken the rules and we will not. We just understand very well how to work with the tires, and in France we demonstrated this again.

"We followed the new technical directive, but our tires still worked well. Perhaps we should pay more attention to some of our opponents who lost pace and find out exactly what they were doing," Szafnauer added.

Following the Stroll and Verstappen blowouts at Baku, Pirelli reportedly demanded teams use a slightly higher tire pressure in France.

Meanwhile, Szafnauer hurled more than a veiled accusation in the direction of Ferrari, which after earning pole position at Monaco and Baku was suddenly not competitive at Paul Ricard Circuit in France.

"If we find the reason, I expect that we will make some sort of change," said Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who finished 16th on Sunday. "First, we need to understand what happened."

Leclerc had started on the pole the previous two races and finished fourth at Baku.

Photo credit: Clive Rose - Getty Images
Photo credit: Clive Rose - Getty Images

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz added, "It's about the very narrow operating window of the tires. We have to enlarge that because we suffer from much more graining than our opponents."

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto, however, downplayed the impact of the newly-imposed higher tire pressures.

"The problems we are having are at the front, and the new pressures were at the rear," Binotto said. "We also had problems here two years ago. But we do have to understand and improve, and there may be some ways we can alleviate the situation a little. But to really solve the problem, we would need new parts."