April 16, 2010

Insane Suspension Failure

This was Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi just a few laps into the first practice session in Shanghai.
I can't recall ever seeing anything like this. Maybe Kimi Raikkonen's suspension failure with Mclaren, but that was just one side and after running many laps with a square wheel. This was just incredible, Buemi is very lucky.

Another thing to add is...what happened to the wheel tethers? the right wheel looks like it end up nailing one of the the cameras.

Toto Rosso says it's the upright that failed. From the video it looks like it was the carbon fiber arms that failed and the failure of two "aluminum" upright/hubs at the same time seems impossible. Readers need to help me out here, I remember F1 teams were running or at least experimenting with a front axle system that distributed braking torque between the wheels. Might that explain why both sides failed simultaneously?

end of post


  1. OI JAIME! without wheels not much point in trying to correct oversteer!

  2. Whoops, wrong driver...

  3. The only similar thing I can remember, used to happen in F1 at Estoril in the early 80s.
    In those times, the first corner after the long straight was very hard on the suspensions under braking. Fortunately, the A-arms were still made of steel so, instead of exploding like on the Toro Rosso, they used to bend, sometimes a lot.

    Anyway, such a failure today is incredible. I looked the replay so many times, but still can't figure out what broke first. Anyway, Seb was very lucky for two reasons: it could happen in a worst place, and loosing both suspension in the end was better than loosing only one, because the car went straight enough...

    Let me say thanks to Axis for this, nobody has it elsewhere :)

  4. It's on the BBC's F1 website, which, ironically, I read first... but it's still a _scary_ accident, which shouldn't have happened. This needs an external investigation because it's so dangerous - OK, it was high loading under braking that caused the upright to fail, but what if it had non-destructively failed in this corner, and gone later on? What if it failed in the race, and he'd speared into the back of another competitor after hardly braking? There are so many variables...

  5. Well, now we have an answer: it was the right upright to fail first, then everything followed up. The reason, supposedly, is a problem with a new suspension design, they will switch to the old one for the remaining sessions and the race.

    Anyway, this is good material for some thinking. Personally, I hate this F.1 where the tire shoulder does all the damping work and the suspensions are so stiff that you hardly see them working. Besides the problem with the new suspension design, this is the basic problem with this crash, the F1 suspensions settings are just incredibly stiff.
    I've seen on Autosport the new proposal with low shoulder tires, I really hope we'll see it in the future...

  6. This is way better than kimi's suspension failure at the nurburgring but the way the suspension blew up was nothing more than awesome. I still gots to say this is a wicked faiure.

    Peace out!

  7. The wheels disappeared because they were tethered to the uprights which disintegrated. Unbelievable that this did not have more horrific consequences in my opinion. Surely the FIA crash testing should have highlighted any weakness in the design of new suspension parts???

  8. The only related system I can think of was Benetton's FTT gimmick in '99. Maybe this is similar? I don't think that failed so spectacularly though, it was more a slow, season long failure...

  9. looks to me that the rotors exploded.

  10. Seems to me like the only thing connecting the two sides would be steering. It looks to me like the right upright failed and turned hard in prior to rotating and destroying everything. This turn in could have some how broken the steering rack allowing the other wheel/upright to do the same thing?

    Obviously speculation, but I don't know why else both sides would fail at nearly the same time in this way.

  11. Armchair tech. directorSunday, April 18, 2010 1:26:00 PM

    1) Uprights do NOT "disintegrate". The aluminum metal matrix composite from which F1 uprights are made is highly unlikely to exhibit such mechanical behavior.

    2) From my armchair, it seems that the right upright hit a resonance under braking and cracked, which prevented it from properly reacting the braking torque into the control arms. This torque caused the wheel to spin about the tire's vertical axis and split from the suspension.

    3) Because this upright design is so light and prone to cracking, when the right side went, the left side could not hold the massive loads on the front of the car and failed. This was likely exacerbated by the transmission of this resonance through the steering and springs and dampers.

    4) for a torque transfer system (ala 04-05 Honda) to exist, there needs to be a mechanical connection between the front hubs. STR has no such system.

  12. Torque transfer systems are illegal per the FIA sporting regs. The uprights failed due to the way they were constructed. Grams are everything in F1. Red Bull had this problem last year.


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