The search for the extra pedal

The search for the extra pedal
During the summer of 1997, keen-eyed Formula 1 photographer Darren Heath spotted Mika Hakkinen ’ s McLaren with its brake magnetic disk uncharacteristically glowing orange in the center of a corner .
Something about it wasn ’ thymine right ; Formula 1 drivers don ’ thymine brake mid-corner – at least, not if they want to go faster. Heath embarked on a quest to find out what was happening, finally getting photographic proof of an clever – and absolutely legal – extra brake pedal point hide in the cable car ’ second footwell .
With typical paranoia, rival teams attempted to stem McLaren ’ mho secret advantage, claiming they would be bled dry trying to devise their own singular solutions. McLaren ’ s braking organization would need to be banned, they cried, which it finally was, but not before it had won respective grands prix .
But, as we reveal in wide for the very beginning time, our ‘ brake-steer ’ solution worth about half a second per lick was just a simpleton musical composition of kit comprising ‘ fifty british pound ’ s worth of parts ’ scavenged from the back of one of the race car transporters…

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A single, great idea

Every Formula 1 teams spends huge amounts of time and money research and developing concepts and ideas for its cars and mathematical process. R & D is a ceaseless pursuit for faster lap-times – with the common caution that the more money you spend, the debauched you go .
however, all the money in the earth is sometimes no substitute for a single, great estimate – particularly when it solves a peculiarly catchy problem or provides a clean and bang-up advantage. That was the case with the double soft used by Brawn GP in 2009, and the F-Duct, which was developed by McLaren a class late – both were apt readings of the rulebook that allowed the engineers to eke out an advantage .
One foster celebrated model was the alleged “ tamper brake ”, given its name much later by Ferrari technical bos Ross Brawn, but known within the team as “ brake-steer, ” that McLaren ran in the latter half of 1997 and into 1998. This simple concept allowed the rise brakes to operate on either the left or proper side only, providing a clear profit under acceleration in corners – and an blink of an eye lap time advantage .
Mika and David finish 1 and 2 in the 1998 season opener
The search for the extra pedal
Mika and David finish 1 and 2 in the 1998 temper opener

A “Eureka!” moment

The estimate primitively came from veteran McLaren foreman engineer Steve Nichols – who literally had a “ eureka ! ” here and now in the winter of 1996 .
“ It was Christmas time and I was on holiday at my parents ’ house and lying in the bath, ” the american recalls. “ We typically set the cars up with quite a set of under-steer – at the time we had fairly skinny rear tyres and fairly meaty front tyres – and I had this idea to put a rear brake on in the corners, to sort of dial out the understeer .
“ Paddy Lowe was head of R & D at the meter, and this would be considered an R & D undertaking. So I told him I wanted to try this matter where we have an extra pedal in the cable car, and we put the right-rear or left-rear brake on to balance the car. finally he sanctioned the stick out. It sat on the test hand truck for months waiting to be tested, and finally we ’ d exhausted every early test item. At 5pm or something, at a Silverstone test, they said let ’ s test that brake thing ! ”
The engineering was basic, to say the least : “ All we had to do was put an extra master cylinder on the car, and a length of Aeroquip [ brake hose ] that went to the right back caliper, so that when you pushed the convention pedal it would put both buttocks callipers on, and when you pressed the fiddle brake it only activated the right buttocks. ”
“ It was amazingly simple to implement, ” recalls Tim Goss, who was headman test team engineer at the clock time. “ We obviously had to check that we were clear on the regulation side. My remembrance is that we were confident that it was legal, and we barely went for it. In terms of how we got to the assembly, and how we applied the brakes to one rear steering wheel, it was not much more than an extra pedal and brake passkey cylinder plumbed in the right way. ”

Getting it on track

The first man to test it on track in early 1997 was Mika Hakkinen, partially because it was more complicate to fit the prototype to David Coulthard ’ sulfur car .
“ In fact, I had thought of it specifically for David, ” says Nichols. “ Because he used to say he didn ’ t like oversteer. I thought this would give him the opportunity to set up the car with quite a draw of understeer, and then balance it with the fiddle brake. He silent had a foot seize because he was an antique kind of guy ! He actually refused to test it, because he thought it was weird .
“ Mika was using the spank seize so we good went back to an extra pedal point – silent entirely three, but accelerator, brake and fiddle-brake. He was identical open-minded so he went out and tried it, and on his first run he went half a irregular a lick fast, which was pretty enormous .

The search for the extra pedal
“ It did a fantastic job. I set it up on purpose with the pressure in the passkey cylinder then that he had to push quite hard on it, because I didn ’ metric ton want him to tap the thing and it suddenly spin. He ’ five hundred use the normal brake to slow the car down enough and then use the fiddle brake just to balance the car. You could push with a little more or less imperativeness .
“ He thought it was capital. so then David generated some concern, but he inactive couldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate permit a hand clutch, so then we had to find space for four pedals in his car. ”
With the original system, as used for the end of 1997, the team decided for each racing circuit whether to have the left or right rear brake function, depending on the layout of the corners .

Driving harder and harder

“ We were racing with it on just one side, ” says Goss. “ So we ’ vitamin d pick which english we ’ five hundred wish to do, biased chiefly to long high-speed corners where we had understeer. As you applied the brake mid-corner it would brake one of the back wheels, and as you didn ’ thymine want to slow the car down, you ’ five hundred open the accelerator to compensate .
“ So it was a combination of pressing on two pedals at the same time. In doing that you ’ re putting more torsion through the outside rear wheel and less through the inside, and that puts a gape here and now on the cable car to steer the car around the corner. In corners where the cable car had a fortune of understeer, then if you applied the bracken tip, you would reduce the understeer .
“ As the drivers got more used to it they could drive the thing intemperate and arduous, which reduced the understeer. You had the lend benefit that you didn ’ t have to carry so much front wing on corner entrance, so you ended up with a more stable car. ”

The search for the extra pedal
Coulthard soon became a fan, and he was promptly up to speed with it .
“ It was a brilliantly simple objet d’art of engineering, which worked, ” says David. “ It meant I had four pedals because I didn ’ metric ton use the hand-clutch. Well, I had a hand-clutch – actually I had two hand-clutches, and one foot-clutch, which I preferred. I felt at that time it was still an advantage .
“ I had tried left-foot brake in the ’ 96 car in Jerez and didn ’ t in truth feel comfortable with it, and reverted to right-foot brake. And it must have been 1999 before I got into left-foot brake again .
“ We had to learn how to work with it, because you had to accelerate while you braked, otherwise you equitable locked the wheel. You could feel it was an advantage, because it yawed the car. so alternatively of riding over the movement tire, you could rotate the car without having to put steering lock on .
“ And steering lock affects the aerodynamics quite a distribute, so there was an advantage aerodynamically in having that. We could use it besides to control a bit of wheel-spin on the inside bicycle, coming out of mean corners. independently Mika and I both worked that out. The theory had been proven in tanks and things like that, but actually doing it at speed out on the track was constantly going to be a piece unlike ! ”

Journalistic intervention

initially rivals didn ’ thyroxine know what McLaren was up to – until a good spot of fact-finding work was done by the media .
After the austrian GP, F1 Racing magazine photographer Darren Heath was going through his shots from the slipstream weekend back at the position – this was the pre-digital era, so he had to wait for his rolls of film to be developed .
He was storm to see that shots of both McLaren drivers showed a rear brake magnetic disk burn at a luff where the cars were under acceleration out of a corner. in concert with editor Matt Bishop – late to become an employee of McLaren – they pondered possible explanations .
It was Heath himself who thought that some kind of extra brake was being employed, and together with Bishop he resolved to try to get a film inside a McLaren cockpit. And that mean waiting for one of the cars to retire on track, and be abandoned by its driver .
The adjacent raceway was the Luxembourg GP, at the Nurburgring, and Heath even arranged that Bishop, watching on television binding in the UK, would call his mobile phone if a McLaren retired – and tell him where it was parked .
With incredible timing both McLarens did retire from the race after running at the movement, ironically during an ad interrupt back in the UK. even without Bishop ’ s help oneself, Heath managed to get to the cars. Coulthard had left his steering wheel on, so Heath couldn ’ thymine get his television camera and flash into the cockpit, so he didn ’ triiodothyronine snap the Scot ’ s four-pedal agreement .
however, Hakkinen had taken his rack off, so Heath was able to fire off a few shots, with guess exposures, and get shots of the foot-well. And when the pictures were developed they showed a little excess pedal in a cable car that should merely have had a choke and brake .
It was a brilliant piece of apt, fact-finding journalism – and a fabulously memorable scoop .

The secret gets out

a lot to the frustration of Ron Dennis, who initially suspected foul-play until he learned that the pictures were taken on cut, the secret was out. Rivals tried to work out precisely what McLaren was doing – and whether it was legal or not .
For the 1998 season the team ran a slenderly more promote version, which allowed the drivers to choose which brake would operate on a corner by corner footing .
“ It would have been illegal to have it be automatic rifle, ” said Nichols. “ But we had a little switch for left and mighty, so all the drivers had to do was select it. They were complaining a little bit about that, but considering what they have to adjust these days, it was reasonably minimal.

It was more work for the drivers, but Coulthard says he adapted promptly : “ It was a switch over to choose left and right, and an extra pedal, ” DC recalls. “ Racing drivers, if they have to sing the russian national anthem backwards while juggling grenades, and it gives them a one-tenth, they would do it ! The competitive animal that you are, cipher would say something is excessively unmanageable if it gave you performance. ”

Rivals up in arms

unfortunately for McLaren, rivals were lobbying for the system to be banned, without actually understanding how it worked. The normal operation was to suggest ideas to the FIA, in a kind of fishing drill, in order to test the limits of what was legal or not .
“ cipher cottoned on to what we were doing. ” says Nichols. “ Williams punted something into Charlie Whiting that was all electronically controlled where they would turn off all the brakes except say the right rear, and good apply that one. And Charlie immediately said, ‘ No, I think that ’ s going to be kind of dangerous ! ’
“ versatile people were putting in assorted proposals. Ferrari claimed it was four-wheel steering, they sent the FIA pictures of tanks where they brake one track and that ’ s how they steer, but they still didn ’ thyroxine know what we were doing. ”
In the conclusion, the rival teams ’ border on hit the proper prey, and McLaren ’ second system was banned early in the 1998 temper .
“ It was banned on the basis of four-wheel steer, although obviously it was not realigning the wheels, ” says Goss. “ We called it brake-steer, which was unfortunate when we tried to argue that it wasn ’ t anything to do with steering ! It was a bad option of name from ourselves. then Ross Brawn coined the term “ fiddle-brake ” which is used by cross-country trial cars for a handbrake that works on each of the raise wheels to try and turn the car. ”
For McLaren and Nichols, the decision was a generator of disappointment .
“ I remember Alain Prost, who had a team at the time, saying we ’ ve got to ban this because it will cost millions in development, ” he says. “ And it was fifty dollar bill quid pro quo ’ s worth of parts that we already had in the truck ! ”

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Category : Car Brakes