“Incorrect switch position” caused Albon’s brake fire in qualifying

2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Williams have revealed Alexander Albon’s dramatic brake fire and explosion in qualifying occured because of an incorrect switch setting.

Albon’s right-rear brake ignited during Q1, then partly exploded, forcing him to retire from the session.

“Holy fuck I just lost the brake pedal,” Albon exclaimed at the time. “It’s just gone to the floor.” He drove slowly back into the pits where he was selected at random to visit the weigh bridge, but passed by due to his inability to brake properly.

The team’s head of vehicle performance Dave Robson revealed the team had failed to make a necessary settings change after Albon switched from intermediate tyres to slicks after the session began.

“Alex suffered with a brake issue due to an incorrect switch position when switching to the slick tyres,” Robson confirmed. “The combination of mixed conditions and the Sprint format is very tricky and today we did not rise to the occasion.”

“Unfortunately we suffered a brake system issue which ended qualifying early for us,” said Albon. “These things happen and we’ll go away and investigate tonight so we understand what went wrong and how we resolve it.”

Alfa Romeo, Imola, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
Both Williams drivers were eliminated in Q1. Nicholas Latifi took 18th on the sprint race grid ahead of his team mate and Esteban Ocon, who was sidelined with a suspected gearbox problem on his Alpine.

“Nicholas struggled to find full confidence in the car in the difficult conditions, but he did well to start ahead of Ocon,” said Robson.

Latifi admitted he lacks confidence at the wheel of his FW44. “My issue is still not having the feeling to really push the car,” he said. “I don’t always have it in full dry conditions and mixed conditions usually only make it more difficult.

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Albon’s radio messages after his brake failure

AlbonHoly fuck, I just lost the brake pedal.
UrwinWatch behind, Norris coming through. Norris and Perez close by. You have an issue with the brake pedal, did you say?
AlbonYeah it’s just gone to the floor.
UrwinGo ‘out’, go ‘out’
AlbonShould I stop?
UrwinGo ‘burnout’, go ‘burnout’. Red flag, red flag, steady on the way in.
AlbonI can’t hear you over the beeps.
UrwinRear brakes are hot, rear brakes are hot.
UrwinBox if you can.
AlbonCopy, box.
UrwinWe’re on the weigh bridge but I think you may need to be careful with that.
AlbonTell them I can’t.
AlbonOkay they let me through.
AlbonTell the boys to watch out, I got no brakes.

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2022 Emilia-Romagna 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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5 comments on ““Incorrect switch position” caused Albon’s brake fire in qualifying”

  1. Obviously he’s starting from the back anyway, but I sincerely hope there’s no reprimands or points for missing the weigh bridge. I think he had a fairly legitimate reason.

    1. @bernasaurus I didn’t notice the weighing instruction message when passing by the scales & relevant light panel.
      I doubt he’ll get any sanction since he had a legitimate safety-related reason for ignoring the instruction.

  2. How does this keep happening to Williams? Amateur hour.

  3. It is not a little, but a lot … surprising that a fault on one corner would eliminate all braking on the car.
    I would have anticipated that there would be a split between the drake by wire rear brakes and the direct hydraulic front brakes. The split would leave one system functional if/when the other one failed for whatever reason.
    Article 11.1..1 pg. 86 Systems must be independent so one will always be operational if the other fails.
    Sounds like more than a simple “Oooops.”

    1. Road cars have a similar split to allow for braking should there be a failure. However, when a failure does occur, your pedal still goes to the boards and it doesn’t feel as though there is any braking at all.

      Potentially, it could be a similar feeling/sensation when braking fails in these cars too.

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