Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2014

Cause of Hamilton’s brake failure ‘still unclear’

2014 German Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2014Mercedes and brake manufacturer Brembo have said they are still unsure what caused Lewis Hamilton’s brake disc failure during qualifying for the German Grand Prix.

The failure caused Hamilton to crash at the Sachskurve during Q1, eventually leading him to start from 20th on the grid.

Mercedes and Brembo say they are still working to trace the cause of the fault.

“There is currently no clear evidence of a single cause of failure and our continuing rigorous analysis will take into account multiple factors which could have contributed to the incident,” they said in a statement.

“The results of this technical analysis will be communicated as soon as they are available.”

“Formula One is a domain of advanced development where technologies are pushed to their limits and in which strong partnerships are crucially important,” it added. “Brembo and Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team remain committed to a close working relationship in the future.”

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Image © Daimler/Hoch Zwei

31 comments on “Cause of Hamilton’s brake failure ‘still unclear’”

  1. Um, I know what caused it- Lewis hit the brakes, the brakes failed and he crashed!!
    Another “its not our fault” of racing in F1 hey!!

    While we are at the “its not my fault” there are too many drivers not taking responsibility for their part in F1 crashes at the moment, the hiding behind “experience” is getting too old!!!

    1. @garns – That’s not a cause, that’s just recalling what happened.

      But I agree on your second point, especially in the case of Massa.

    2. @Garns So it was Hamilton’s fault that his brakes failed? What do you suggest he does in the future, not use them at all?

    3. Karthik Mohan
      25th July 2014, 18:48

      “Lewis hit the brakes, the brakes failed and he crashed”… If only Mercedes had engineers capable of figuring that out. I mean, it’s all there! The brakes failed because the brakes failed… How do they not see the cause in this? So silly!

      1. David Thompson
        25th July 2014, 18:56

        Don’t forget, KM, “brakes” now includes lots more than discs, calipers, pads, and hydraulics. There’s a mess of KERS complexity that is very sensitive to overheating.

        1. Karthik Mohan
          26th July 2014, 5:09

          But that’s with the rear brakes right? There isn’t any harvesting going on at the front, is there?

          And heat wasnt the issue with the brakes for Lewis, it was a mechanical failure.

  2. The disc is a carbon fibre component that relies on proper catalyzation/cure for proper behaviour. Any foreign
    matter between laminations, any grease streak, any impurity is cause for failure.

    Mercedes, apparently, doesn’t want to cause permanent damage to Brembo over the recent failures of Brembo brakes (rear and then -at another race- front, contrasting with the fact that the Carbon Industries units performed better under the same circumstances.

    Hence, I assume, the diplomatic language of Mercedes after Toto Wolff found the failures “unacceptable” at the moment of failure.

    Thanks Heavens, it was not the disc of a landing jet. But it could have well been -with dire consequences.

    1. I thought the Canada failure was in the energy harvesting, not the brakes?

      1. Read the race review; it was a failure in the MGU-K that led to the brakes overheating.

        1. Not Bembro/CI’s fault there.

        2. David Thompson
          25th July 2014, 18:58

          That was Canada, Dave. Hamilton’s qualifying failure last race was reported as a broken disc, but the cause of that . . . well, they’re still talking around that.

          1. You really didn’t read the whole thread, did you?

    2. maybe its a bbw issue

  3. I don’t know why but I think it must be a really dumb reason, like a mechanic dropped it on the floor before installing it or something like that.

    1. If that could break them they must be pretty fragile, considering they have to be transported every two weeks. I had the impression most of the things that look fragile (ie, wings) are pretty resistant.

      1. Brake discs aren’t designed to handle impacts; it’s not inconceivable a drop of just a couple of feet could lead to microfractures, which would be exacerbated by the big temperature swings during use.

        1. David Thompson
          25th July 2014, 19:00

          And a mechanic who dropped a disc would immediately report it, and it would probably be junked.

  4. Parts fail on racing cars. Engines, turbos, wheels, gearboxes, alternators, tyres … I don’t know why this is being treated with such astonishment. If it had been Grosjean or Vergne having a similar brake failure it would scarcely be worth a mention.

    1. Karthik Mohan
      25th July 2014, 18:42

      That is just an absurd comment there! Of course, mechanical components fail, but if it were to be just let off without being investigated and the cause found, it may happen again. That’s why it being treated with “such astonishment”. Lewis Hamilton and Nico are in the title war, and hence any failure they both have, will be a huge talking point.

      And about the second part of your comment, do you have any evidence to support your claim of a team releasing information about any of their failures and it not getting passed on to everyone?

    2. Brake failure (especially one with unknown causes) is just a slightly bit more worrying that an engine or gearbox failure, wouldn’t you think? It impacts the safety of drivers. So yes, the attention is justified in my eyes, whether it affects Hamilton, Grosjean or Max Chilton.

      1. Especially since Wolff did imply in one interview with Autosport that Mercedes is not the sole team that has suffered from issues with Brembo’s brake discs and hinted that it was an issue with Brembo’s supply chain.

        maarten-f1 is right to point out that, as multiple teams will be using similar brakes to Mercedes, the same issue can (and if Toto is right, already has) impacted other teams – and given that the brakes are safety critical parts, a highly dramatic failure like that would probably still be hitting the headlines irrespective of the driver it happened to.

  5. Mercedes build a brilliant car, but it’s reliability definitely isn’t on the same level. If all this brake issues weren’t enough, on Rosberg’s radio his engineer said something about problems with his engine today.

    Good for them the championship is almost a done deal.

    1. While the rest of the car certainly isn’t particularly reliable, the brakes are all third party, so theoretically it could’ve happened to any car. (However, it could be Mercedes trying to reduce the strain on the K-ers by transferring more breaking load to the front brakes perhaps, therefore wearing the brakes out (however the brakes were brand new…)) as far as I know, Lewis switched recently to the Brembo’s from his traditional Carbon Industry’s, with the Brembo’s being a bit more unreliable as such leading to the failure. Also, it could be that the field has moved a bit closer with the Williams and Red Bulls closing in slowly they may be putting the Merc’s under more strain causing these unreliability issues.

      1. David Thompson
        25th July 2014, 19:02

        And they’re racing in the summer heat now, such as it is in Europe.

        1. Maybe brake cooling duct too small for qualifying so exceeded safe operating range?

  6. So is Lewis back to using his trust Carbin Industry’s? I have no idea why he switched away from them in the first place, Nico seems pretty quick with them, and they’re more reliable. Is it simply a case of the Brembo’s being nicer to drive with, or is there any technical reason?

    1. *trusty Carbon Industry’s

      1. Call me a dinosaur but you would not get steel discs exploding.

        1. Correct; they’d warp and deform instead

    2. Lewis prefers the ‘bite’ of the Brembo rotors on certain tracks so he switches between the two brands to get the feel that he likes. I think he has always done this but in the quest to outpace Nico getting the ‘feel’ just right is probably pretty important to him.

  7. And this is exactly why manufacturers of all things automotive spend money being involved in F1, there is no better testing ground ( or at least there used not to be ) and “road relevance” is important for them, you can pay $8,000. dollars extra to upgrade from steel to carbon ceramic discs on your performance road car and woe betide the manufacturer whose brakes fail causing injury and death on a public road. Finding the exact cause of this failure will save lives and fortunes.

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