Tag Archives: alonso

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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Fairness to American F1 fans: 2011 British GP on FOX


The Cahier Archive


The British GP was the third of four races this season broadcast on Fox television in the US, the first of which was a marathon Canadian Grand Prix, and at over four hours, the longest ever.  During that race, I was able to follow from a number of different people tweeting during the red flags that FOX did not break programming from the race, showing the entire four hours.  This was definitely an improvement from earlier years when FOX would publish an F1 race in their schedule, and then abandon fans with local baseball game coverage instead.

Following an amazing race yesterday, Formula 1 fans in the US were happy to see the start of what should have been a compelling set of interviews from race winner Alonso as well as from the 2nd and 3rd place finishers Vettel and Webber.

While fans heard from the winner, it was Webber and Vettel many would have liked to hear a few words from, but FOX ended the broadcast before we could ever hear from them.

With Alonso’s win clocking in at just under 1.5 hours, it seems natural that there would have been plenty of time in the shadow of the four hour Canadian Grand Prix to show the two Red Bull teammates interviews, of particular interest to Formula 1 fans after hearing their team principal’s radio call to Webber in the closing laps to maintain his gap to second place finisher Vettel.

Unlike yesterday’s Red Bull team orders broadcast over the world for race fans to hear, television contracts are not matters of public record.  Certainly in this weekend’s race, whatever event FOX was obligated to show as part of their F1 broadcast on Sunday clearly hadn’t ended in American Formula 1 fans’ minds until all three podium finishers had been shown to give their account of the race events during those interviews.

Events like this are not uncommon, and in 2005, UK broadcaster ITV was called out by race viewers on an advertising break during the climactic moments of the San Marino Grand Prix, documented here on page 6 of the Office of Communications (OFCOM)website.

OFCOM’s rules for recognition of natural breaks during sport broadcasts include the following:

  1. Breaks may be taken during intermissions of the particular sport being televised ­ eg, half time, between races, between innings, etc.
  2. In live coverage of long continuous events breaks may be taken at points where the focus of coverage shifts from one point to another of the event ­ eg, after a resume of the current placings in a race and before refocusing on a particular section of the race. Breaks may also be taken adjacent to cut-away discussion or background film insert sequences.
  3. Where edited recorded sport programmes are shown, break points should be selected to avoid creating the impression that some part of the event ­ eg, a round in a boxing match ­ has been omitted to accommodate advertising.

Sounds basic enough – and yesterday’s race had been shown in full for the most part – but as Formula 1 fans in the US, what do we feel is a fair broadcast, and when do we feel the event is over?  Is it after the checkered flag drops and the winner crosses the finish line, or is it after the driver interviews?

In a sport dominated by technology, isn’t it still still about the human drama that makes Formula 1 so compelling?


Filed under American F1 Events, American F1 Fans, F1 and business, F1 and Social Media, F1 broadcasters, F1 broadcasting in America, F1 in America