Renault to change fuel system design after fire

2016 Japanese Grand Prix

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Renault will change the design of its fuel system in time for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix following Kevin Magnussen’s fire during practice at Sepang.

Renault fuel fire in pictures
Magnussen’s car caught fire following his first installation lap at the Malaysian circuit on Friday. He had been running with a full tank of fuel when a problem with the breather caused a build-up of pressure within the tank. Magnussen was running new development parts at the time which were not on Jolyon Palmer’s car.

The team’s technical director Nick Chester said a “combination of factors” led to the fire, which forced the stoppage of practice and took several minutes to extinguish.

“We were running test parts related to the fuel system for Mexico, which is a race at a much higher altitude and lower atmospheric pressure than we encounter at other races.”

“This highlighted a flaw in our fuel cell assembly that we would have not have seen otherwise. We are modifying our fuel cell assembly ahead of Suzuka and revising the fuel system update for Mexico in light of what we saw.”

Team principal Frederic Vasseur said the team will continue to look into what can be learned from the incident.

“Firstly we need to continue to investigate the whys – why this has happened and procedures to put into place for it not to happen again,” he said.

“Secondly – and I’ve spoken to the guys involved – seeing the incredible reaction of the mechanics handling the situation was amazing. It really shows the commitment, determination and professionalism of the team. This is the best guarantee we have for the future.”

2016 Japanese Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    7 comments on “Renault to change fuel system design after fire”

    1. Thank goodness he wasn’t testing out the halo when this happened.

      You could see from the onboard shot how much Magnussen struggled to get out quickly, even without the halo in the way.

      1. I very much doubt that.
        One current problem with getting out of the car quickly is that the sides are too high to lift yourself out armchair style and too low to pull yourself up.
        With the halo the driver can grab that and pull himself forward and up.
        It may help, not hinder, a quick escape.

        When the car has flipped, that is another story.

      2. You greatly exaggerate.

    2. This is the sort of engineering processes we never really see from the outside looking in, but fascinates me. This is what makes the sport truly unique in my view. No other sport I know makes so many adjustments from event to event and the preparation for what that means is huge in terms of well drilled procedures. Essentially what I take from this great article is:
      * Identified need for the change of fuel system for a future event
      * Understood the requirements what the low atmospheric conditions would need
      * Came up with a potential solution to the low atmospheric conditions in the fuel system
      * Built the solution
      * Tested it, with a failure (sometimes you learn more from failing than from succeeding)
      * Learned from the results and have probably come up with a better solution

      Top marks to a professional outfit, albeit in a lowly position in the 2016 field.

      1. So we are just forgetting that no one has had a similar fault in recent years and that such fault could have easily killed someone had the car caught fire in motion.

        1. Why would anyone forget that?

        2. No way!

          Had it happened in motion he would have had plenty of time to stop the car and get out. Bear in mind they wear Nomex fire-resistant suits, which can withstand temperatures of 600 to 800 degrees Celsius for more than 11 seconds without warming the inside of the suit above 41 degrees. An F1 car can easily brake from 125 km/h to a standstill in less than three seconds.

          So some burns maybe but death. No chance.

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