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GP Week : Issue 230
TECHNICAL it'S the LittLe thinGS thAt bite TeChNICAl PAoLo FiLiSetti Technical Editor The Russian GP in sochi can’t be considered as one of the most interesting from the technical point of view, but it was at least pretty useful to underline one fact – the relevance of taking care of the tiniest detail, even in this last crucial phase of the season. It is important not to take anything for granted, especially from the reliability point of view of the cars. It was in fact interesting to note as some teams were able to take care of very small details to guarantee the reliability of their cars, especially taking into account those needs that were related to the specific stress induced to some element of their cars by the particular features of this track. One team in particular caught our attention, and it was Mercedes. The car, although sporting the same basic configuration adopted in Singapore (such as the front wing), adopted some tricks to guarantee the efficiency and reliability of some of its components. It was interesting to note how Mercedes implemented a strategy to maintain the efficiency and performance of the braking system. In particular it was interesting that, at the front, the brake drums were partially open, without the side cover. In this way it was possible to see the complete disc, together with the caliper and the small venting ducts, aiming to dissipate the heat generated under braking. This solution was adopted to provide more efficient cooling for the front brakes, particularly stressed here in Sochi due to the close sequence of turns and short straights, which increase the need to be capable of cooling discs and pads. It was particularly interesting to see on the starting grid how an opposite strategy was applied to the rear brakes. In particular, heating blankets were put on the brake drums, sealing them, and blowing hot air inside them, so as to keep them warm – close to the normal working temperature. This was done to avoid the problem related to an excessive drop down of the temperature of the discs at the start, leading to a dramatic reduction of the friction between discs and pads, hence reducing their efficiency. This kind of attention, related to the braking system, didn’t help Mercedes to prevent problems in other areas of the car, as was the case for the throttle pedal of Nico Rosberg’s car. This element failed during the race, forcing the driver to retire. The throttle of course is a drive-by-wire-system, in a similar mode to the modern rear brakes, which are assisted by brake-by- wire, rather than the older, simpler cable (brake) / rod connections of days gone by. On this occasion, the sophisticated electronics, didn’t play a positive role in terms of keeping the systems efficient. Instead, on this occasion, it proved to be the Achilles heel of this outstanding car. Reliability must never be taken for granted! 33 GPWEEK.com // 33 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> RUSSIA PARTNERS: