Mika Hakkinen knows perfectly well what Max Verstappen was feeling at the end of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, stating it's never a nice experience when your tyre blows out.
The Dutchman saw what looked to be a certain victory slip out of his fingers, crashing out of the lead of the race when his left rear tyre failed. Verstappen could do nothing to prevent the incident, and Hakkinen noted regardless of what caused the problem, it is a worry for F1 as the violent nature of the accident leaves drivers feeling like a passenger.
"I have to feel sorry for Max Verstappen," Hakkinen wrote in his column for Unibet. "He drove such a strong race from P3 on the grid, only to suffer that terrible tyre failure on the main straight, at maximum speed.
"There is a right hand kink in the straight, which will have put load on the left rear tyre, and that is the one which failed. We need to wait for the result of Pirelli’s investigation, to see whether there was an actual problem with the tyre itself or a puncture caused by debris. Either way, it is a worry for F1.
"I have experienced tyre blow outs, and it is never a nice experience. It is very sudden, violent and leaves you a passenger at 300kph. It was a tyre failure which put me in hospital at the Australian Grand Prix in 1995, and in 1999 I had tyre fail while driving flat out in Germany.
"When you feel the car go, you instantly start to try and correct the steering, but at maximum speed there is really nothing you can do."
Hakkinen noted that Lance Stroll suffered a similar issue earlier in the race at the same part of the track, though things could have perhaps been much worse if it occurred at a different circuit.
"What makes Max’s tyre failure more worrying is that it was the second one of the day, Lance Stroll having suffered the same fate in his Aston Martin," Hakkinen continued. "The fact that both incidents took place at the same location, at maximum speed, means that the FIA together with the teams and Pirelli will need to look carefully at all the data, and really try to understand the reasons.
"In Baku both drivers were on their own, with no car alongside. They were also fortunate to spin and hit the wall with the nose section. At other circuits this kind of failure could lead to a more catastrophic accident."