Catastrophic – Sandwich Wrapper Meets F1 Brakes

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Source: To illustrate the critical complexities and fragility of a Formula One racecar’s braking system, Brembo posted the following. The point – there are just some things even the most sophisticated engineering companies will miss during testing and the results can be catastrophic.

CURNO, Italy — Each Formula 1 single-seater car is the result of thousands of hours of research, countless computer calculations, simulations and tests, not to mention several sessions in the wind tunnel, necessary for optimizing everything, down to the smallest component.

Braking systems are no exception where this is concerned and Brembo subjects all the components of the braking systems supplied to the Formula 1 teams to rigorous and highly sophisticated tests and simulations.

Related post:
F1 2021 and Beyond for Brembo

However, in spite of all calculations and static and dynamic tests, racing history is rife with unexpected events generating unforeseen problems, thus compromising a good Grand Prix result. In most cases, the triggering event was an external factor, independent of the team, such as a part that came off another single seater, for example.

On the other hand, sometimes faults have been caused by factors that have nothing to do with the other cars on the track, such as an animal or even an object from the stands that made its way onto the track. Alpine Renault knows a little something about this, as they had to stop Fernando Alonso after only 33 laps in the Bahrain GP to avoid any worse damage to his A521.

A sandwich wrapper was entirely to blame when it got stuck in the car’s rear brake air intake, generating an amount of overheating that ended up impairing the operation of the braking system. The pit crew realized that something wasn’t quite right as they watched the telemetry and they opted to withdraw, because continuing would have endangered the safety of the driver and that of his rivals.

F1 history and Alonso himself are no strangers to episodes like this one. In 2015, during the Spanish GP with McLaren, Alonso was also forced to abandon the race in the 25th lap, after a few terrifying moments – “the rear brakes didn’t seem to work anymore” he had reported to the garage. The malfunction was caused by a visor tear-off that had made its way into the brake duct. The small piece of transparent plastic was found on the bottom of the car. And two years ago, for the same reason, Carlos Sainz had to make an unscheduled pit stop during the Canadian GP, once again because of a visor that ended up in the brake duct, making temperatures rise beyond operating range.

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The entire story, with further information about F1 brake-system design, engineering and testing as well as operational factors and multiple images, can be viewed by clicking HERE.

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