Mercedes-powered Formula E cars allowed to race after brake failure fix

Formula E

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All Mercedes-powered Formula E cars have been allowed to participate in today’s race, having been barred from joining the qualifying session earlier today.

The cars belonging to the Mercedes team and customer outfit Venturi remained in their garages during the qualifying session after Venturi driver Edoardo Mortara suffered a heavy crash in final practice. He was extracted and taken to a local hospital for assessments, remaining conscious throughout.

Time constraints in the hour between the end of third practice and the start of Formula E qualifying les race control to instruct Mercedes-powered cars not to join the track for qualifying sessions until a full investigation could be completed.

At the time, Mercedes and customer team Venturi suggested the issue was likely to be related to his car’s braking system. The stewards subsequently shed more light on the cause of Mortara’s crash.

“The brake system lost the front brake pressure and the pressure sensor was at zero,” said the stewards. “Both brake pedal travel sensors indicated that the brake pedal was fully pushed by the driver.”

Formula E cars do not all use the same brakes, although Brembo systems are common across the majority of the cars.

Mercedes, who won yesterday’s season-opening race at the track, said a software error had been identified and corrected on the system they share with Venturi.

“First and most importantly, we are pleased that Edo is safe and well following his accident in third practice,” said Mercedes in a statement. “Our analysis since then has enabled us to understand what occurred and put in place suitable counter-measures.

“The braking system on the Formula E cars is designed so that if the front brakes fail, the rear brake system is activated as a failsafe. In this instance, an incorrect software parameter meant the rear brake system did not activate as intended and the failsafe did not kick in.

“We have now corrected the software problem and demonstrated to the FIA’s satisfaction that the matter has been resolved. As a result, the FIA will permit all Mercedes-powered cars to race this evening.”

Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne will start for Mercedes’ Formula E team in 20th and 22nd place respectively, with Norman Nato also starting for Venturi in 23rd place. Edoardo Mortara is listed on the starting grid in 21st, however, no statement has been made on his fitness to race following the high-speed impact.

Mortara said in a social media post “I m safe and fine. I had the scariest moment ever, I m grateful and thankful for all the support I received. We’re even considering trying to take the start of the race if we can repair the car [but] it will be very tight.”

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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  • 9 comments on “Mercedes-powered Formula E cars allowed to race after brake failure fix”

    1. At what speed did he hit the barrier Hazel?

      1. Well, it’s Formula E so he probably will be fine.

        1. The cars can hot 170mph or around 220kph so no, not so fine

        2. @franco

          Very big and clever when someone’s been taken to hospital, well done you.

          @Broke1984 I don’t know the final speed with which he hit the barrier but I’ve been told the impact exceeded 50 g

    2. Why does the brakes of a racing car needs to be controlled by a software?

      1. Regeneration presumably.

    3. Incorrect parameter… a software bug caused by human error. Geez guys, might need to get some unit tests on that code. Stunned they don’t given there’s literally lives on the line.

      I’ve had to do some pretty curly production hotfixes in my time, but nothing that could potentially kill someone 😕

      1. Unit tests are only as good as the person code in the unit test. If the result the test expects back is written wrong then the test will be passing. A passing Unit test does not guarantee the code is correct. Also this would likely need Integration tests rather than simply just Unit tests as it could possibly be an incorrect assumption of sensor inputs. However can they suffer the same issue if the test are not written correctly.

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