Tear-offs: An Opportunity for F1 Teams

Fernando Alonso’s recent retirement in Spain was caused by his own tear off that left his hand while driving during Sunday’s Grand Prix. The tear off flew around the carefully engineered bodywork of the MP4-30 and inserted itself into one area of the car that provides cooling to the left rear brake.

Within 2 laps, the rear brake system on the car had overheated, causing the fluid to boil and a loss of stopping power. While most of the braking is done by the front tires in a car, Fernando’s subsequent pit stop showed the effect the loss of rear brakes had:



The incident highlights several key concepts in F1, and underscores the ability of a seemingly insignificant part to lead to a retirement. In 2013, Kimi Raikkonen had his front left brake duct blocked by a discarded tear off, ending his race at Spa that year for Lotus.

Depending on the circuit and race conditions, track debris and trash can interfere with an F1 car’s operation, so keeping used tear offs away from other cars is part of the solution, which means removing them in the pits only and discarding them with a team member, or finding a means to store used tear offs on board safely through the remainder of a Grand Prix.

In the latter case, this is a discrete, relevant, solvable problem, and could provide an opportunity for Formula 1 teams and visor/tear off manufacturers to crowdsource the solution while creating a meaningful engagement with young engineers. If students, fans, or F1 in Schools race teams were to design a solution to best handle the problem, creatively and effectively, everyone could benefit.

Criteria could include cost, weight, ease of use, etc, while offering young engineers and the public the opportunity to learn about what a driver can do to maneuver inside the car, and how design solutions are implemented within teams. Knowing the F1 community, there’s bound to be more than one inspired solution, so why not give it a try?

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A talk with Andrew Frankl at Stanford University

Last month, F1 author and journalist Andrew Frankl spoke to a full house at Stanford University’s Engineering school in front of faculty, students and F1 fans alike about his career in the sport with anecdotes from his travels and thoughts on the current state of the sport.



Frankl, now living in Northern California, is the Grand Prix editor for FORZA magazine, and recently published a memoir of his time in F1.  Originally filmed for a periscope broadcast, enjoy a few minutes of this engaging and warm presentation with Andrew, followed by his son Nicholas, who has a few thoughts on Formula E after having returned recently from Long Beach.  An hour well spent.

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Haas F1 Team Hiring and Schedule Update

Haas F1 Team logo

Since acquiring the former Marussia factory, Haas F1 Team principal Guenther Steiner has been busy putting together the first American Formula 1 team to race in 30 years.

The team’s United States home in Kannapolis, North Carolina, will be the American base of operations as Banbury, Oxfordshire, U.K. will serve as Haas F1 Team’s European base, streamlining logistics for access to overseas suppliers and Formula One venues in Europe.  According to a recent press release, the team’s equipment, including transporter, garage and pit setup are under construction, and will be housed at Haas F1 Team’s UK facility.

Originally announced in November last year, veteran motorsports engineer Matt Borland was named vice president of technology for Haas F1 Team in addition to his role at Stewart-Haas racing.  Borland currently serves as a liaison between the two organizations:  Haas F1 Team in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship and Stewart-Haas Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

On the Formula 1 side, former Jordan team manager and A1GP technical coordinator Dave O’Neill has been appointed as Haas F1 Team manager, with 28 year F1 veteran and former McLaren senior design team leader Rob Taylor as chief designer.  Dallara and Ferrari alum Ben Agathangelou has been appointed as chief aerodynamicist.

The 2016 Haas F1 Team entry has already been designed as a 60 percent scale model for wind tunnel testing.  Team principal Guenther Steiner:

“While there is still a lot of work to do, a lot has already been accomplished for Haas F1 Team to be competitive when we join the F1 grid in 2016… Our technical partnership with Ferrari has allowed us to develop our car and our people at an exceptional pace. The way we’re going about our F1 team is new and different, but it’s working. We’re committed to our plan, we’re committed to F1 and, most importantly, we’re on schedule. This time next year, our cars will have already been tested and we’ll be readying them for Melbourne.”

Haas Automation, Inc., will serve as the team’s primary sponsor.

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