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Azerbaijan GP under late red flag after Verstappen tyre failure

The Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix has been thrown under a late red flag following a tyre failure for race leader Max Verstappen with four laps to go.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Verstappen was denied a likely victory when his left-rear tyre failed as he came to cross the line to begin Lap 48 of the race, holding a four-second lead over Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.

The failure sent Verstappen’s car spinning into the wall at one of the fastest parts of the circuit, prompting the race to quickly be put under the safety car.

The decision was then taken to red flag the race, with the cars all returning to the pits and opting to switch to soft tyres ahead of the eventual restart.

It marked the second tyre failure of the race after Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll suffered a similar issue on the hard compound Pirellis earlier on at a similar point of the circuit.

Stroll crashed into the wall and was eliminated from the race on Lap 30, resulting in an early safety car.

Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley told FIA race director Michael Masi that the team had “zero warning of that failure”, showing “nothing on the metric, not a vibration”.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was overheard in the pit lane telling advisor Helmut Marko: “I think it's just a tyre failure, it was at the end of the life. It's exactly the same tyre that failed on Stroll. I think it's a tyre issue.”

The race is set to restart with two laps remaining, the field due to be led by Sergio Perez, who sat second prior to Verstappen’s failure ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton is set to move back into the lead of the drivers’ championship thanks to Verstappen’s DNF, having sat four points behind heading into the race.

All drivers will be permitted to make a free tyre change in the pits under the red flag. No time has yet been given by race control on when it will resume.

Road sweepers are currently being used to clear debris from the crash site at Turn 20, ensuring the field can safely take the restart.

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