July 31, 2011

What exploded on Heidfeld's Renault?

(photo: Sutton)

Nick Heidfeld pulled over right after his pitstop during the 2011 Hungarian GP, with his Renault engulfed by fire. The first official word was that the forward exiting exhaust had somehow broken and overheated the bodywork. But if you look at the clip after the jump you can see a fairly massive explosion which appears to injure one of the marshals trying to put out the fire.

What blew up? it's not due as the file cell is not in that location and there was no fire with the explosion. Could it have been a KERS battery? thoughts


  1. The race summary on autoblog claims it was a tire. If you look at the very end of the video, you can see the left rear tire is gone.

  2. Looks like liquid so either battery or perhaps cooling system radiator boiled off.

  3. A tire? no way, Autoblog is wrong. there was a shot of the car being pulled back into the pits, rolling on all 4

  4. My first thought when I was watching the race was that it looked like a battery cooking off.

    Most likely that wasn't the primary cause of the fire (I could buy exhaust failure being the primary ignition source that lead to a cascade of failures), but it sure looked like a battery to me.

  5. According to Heidfel (via SpeedTV), it was the compressed air bottle that feeds the engine pneumatics:

    "Nick Heidfeld’s spectacular fire in Hungary was caused by heat build-up, believed to be due to a cracked exhaust.

    The German’s pit stop took around three seconds longer than it should have, and things got even hotter when he built up his revs to leave the pits.

    After he stopped and the fire took hold, a compressed air bottle that feeds the engine pneumatics exploded in spectacular fashion – an incident without precedent.

    “My second pit stop was longer than expected,” said Heidfeld. “The car overheated and I noticed smoke coming from the rear. It worsened, and then I noticed the flames so I had to pull over at the end of the pit lane and cut my race short.”

    Chief race engineer Alan Permane added: "In his second pit stop we had a problem with one of the wheel nuts, meaning that the car was sat at high revs for a long time. This meant a build-up of heat, which caused a fire. Although it looked spectacular, it was only a small part of bodywork which burnt on the left-hand sidepod.”"


  6. Always worth checking out Scarbs for F1 technical issues "Renault, side pods contain the nitrogen cylinder for the valves, plus tanks for hydraulic fluid, either could have caused the explosion"


  7. Don't believe everything you read on twitter...
    Engine bottles are inside the cockpit not on the side pods.

  8. @Headswithwings

    Um, no. A highly pressurized bottle to feed the engine with gas for the pneumatic valves WILL NOT be in the cockpit. Pretty sure that's against the rules. Do you even who Scarbs is? Pretty sure you know nothing in comparison to him. Would you sit next to a couple thousand PSI of nitrogen? Didn't think so. Get some education before making extremely stupid statements. Here's his site, not that you'll look:

  9. Yeah, I'm fairly certain no sane designer would put pressurized canisters inside the tub. I'm guessing the explosion was so strong because it bounced off the outside of the tub. Wonder if it penetrated it at all. That could have had much worse outcome for that marshal .

  10. Looks like it happened right when the fire extinguishing materials went up the sidepod and actually hit the radiator. Overheated and suddenly hit with something colder could certain cause a catastrophic failure and small explosion.

  11. @AC

    Awesome, check @Scarbs twitter feed and his "update" after I sent him the same comment :)

    One thing you got almost right was the pressure, 3600 PSI to be precise.

    @UhHuh Am not comparing my knowledge to Scarbs' but with you yes.
    If you have more than 7 years in F1 and two world championships under your belt you can comment, otherwise continue to stay anonymous.

  12. @HeadWithWings:

    Ooh, the plot thickens! So who do you work for? Let's see, presuming you've stayed at one company, only Ferrari and Renault have won two WDCs in the last seven years... I'm going with Renault, considering your knowledge of the above!


  13. @HeadWithWings

    You have been in Formula 1 for seven years and have been a part of a WCC twice and you come on Axis to say that? UhHuh. Sure you work in Formula 1. After all, isn't the Pope Jewish? And you can right fuck off with that imaginary superiority you have. (yes I was wrong, but not every team run the bottle inside the cockpit and for good reason)


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