Braking issues haunt high-performance auto racing

Brakes are the universal constant of safe driving. From cars being taken on everyday runs to the grocery store to race cars reaching 200 miles an hour, every vehicle is only as safe as its brakes.

In an alarming turn of events, braking problems are being widely discussed in the world of auto racing. Diagnosing the issue and getting to the bottom of it is absolutely critical to keep drivers safe on the track.

IndyCar braking problems reported
Not only have Formula 1 racing drivers reported issues with the brakes on their IndyCar vehicles, they have been taking different approaches to addressing the problems, according to RACER magazine.

The news source focused on practice runs for a race in St. Petersburg, Florida, during which various teams employed their own fixes to overheating they observed in the calipers, discs and pads in their cars.

"In the high-speed world of IndyCar racing, the stakes are especially clear."

The drivers who spoke to RACER gave a variety of responses to reports of braking problems. Some experienced no issues, while others found an "inconsistent shutdown." Others gave middling reviews, praising aspects of brake performance while criticizing others, such as the "bite" of the brakes upon pressing the pedal.

In any driving situation, motorists count on brakes to respond quickly. In the high-speed world of IndyCar racing, the stakes are especially clear – brakes have to be consistent and reliable to keep drivers safe.

RACER explained that drivers and the IndyCar organization worked together to tame the brake issues, with the governing body enabling new cooling methods and allowing teams to test performance. The high natural temperature at the Florida track added to the issues, with cooling the brakes down taking on an extra degree of difficulty.

Official statement from component manufacturer
Brembo, one of the companies behind the controversial hardware, issued a statement on the matter, carried by NBC Sports. The equipment manufacturer contended that since it is not part of the brake development process for the race series, it cannot say with surety whether any problems lie with its products or their use in the IndyCar vehicles. The statement added that the parts have not changed since their introduction six years ago, per the rules of the competition.

Brembo went on to note that it set out recommended temperatures for the parts and claimed that it asked for data following tests of the braking system, to no avail. It then denied any responsibility for problems that may result from braking issues and told the IndyCar governing body, teams and the media to stop linking the issues with its product.

Testing in the pipeline for possible replacement
At least one team is looking for new way forward, and working with the equipment manufacturer to revise its systems. Motorsport reported that Haas is planning on testing a new system at the Bahrain Grand Prix, hoping to find parts that can cope with this season's increase in disc width. The team is in communication with Brembo about working on the brakes and thinking of contracting Cabrone Industrie.

"I can't live with the weight of brake issues," said Haas's Romain Grosjean, according to Motorsport. "It clearly is something key for me and I struggle a lot because of that. Now, we'll try to work at best with people at Brembo to find solutions."

The team members explained to the source that in the time between now and the brake test, the team is satisfied with its current braking situation, at least as far as safety is concerned. From there, it's just a matter of getting to the performance levels drivers want.

"Each part in a braking system needs extreme levels of testing."

Development and testing always essential
Cars competing at extreme speeds serve as a great demonstration of braking systems' importance. The lesson for companies at every level of the manufacturing process and auto supply chain is clear: Each part in a braking system needs extreme levels of testing.

A complimentary brake testing consultation from Greening is one way for manufacturers to determine their own needs and design a testing regimen that fits those requirements. Whether the item needing inspection is a component or a whole braking system, this consultation process points to a way forward.