Visor tear-off boils Alonso’s brakes

There have been some odd reasons for retiring from a Formula 1 race over the years but it has to be painful to know that a small piece of plastic film ended your day. That’s the case for McLaren’s Fernando Alonso who suffered brake failure during Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix due to a visor tear-off that had lodged itself in his brake cooling duct.

Without cool air flowing through the duct, the brake system over heated boiling the brake fluid and ending his race in dramatic fashion with a slide through his pit box and a flying front jack.


“It was a tear-off, and we have video footage that shows this,” Boullier said.

“It went straight into the brake duct, obstructing the airflow, so there was no more cooling and that was why, in two laps, the temperatures went through the roof.

“The brake fluid boiled and we lost the brakes, so it was a complete fluke the tear-off should get lodged in there.”

“Obviously the drivers need them, but we need to maybe think about how and where we throw them. Maybe we need to think about something for the future.”


The art of throwing a tear-off has prompted some odd arm moves from drivers as they try to get the piece of plastic as far outside of their car’s air intake as possible. Sounds like this could be time for some innovation from some of the helmet manufacturers if you ask me.


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Shane Carberry

Maybe a rolling tear off system would be the way to go, one similar to those used in motocross? Added weight of course, but solves this problem entirely!


Years back I recall a CART car having it’s engine destroyed because the driver yanked a tear-off away while he was in the pits. Because the car was stationary, the plastic floated straight down and got sucked directly into the turbo intake. It was actually caught on video – you could see the engine detonate when the remains got sucked through the turbo and into the motor.


With the more frequent and longer pit stops promised by the strategy group, there will be plenty of time to clean or replace the visor during each pitstop.
Alternatively, a switch to super hard tyres could minimise the marbles and crud that gets on the visors, reducing the need for tear offs. Also opens up the potential for driving ‘off line’ and mor overtaking. A total winner, get me Bernie on the phone!


Might work if they streamlined it, and balanced it on both sides. I’m picturing that on a helmet while the driver’s hitting 300 km/h and having to fight constantly to keep his head from being yanked to that side.

Andreas Möller

It happened another time a couple of years ago – my memory wants to say it was a Lotus, but don’t count on it…

Anyway, rather than introducing more technology, how about just mandating that tear-offs be dropped inside the car, rather than outside. It would seem to be far easier to just drop it by your lap, rather than trying to get enough of your arm outside the car to make sure it doesn’t get into the engine air intake.


Visors that work like transitions lenses?


Tear-offs are also used to quickly get rid of debris like dirt and rubber. Instead of rubbing the visor to remove the obstructions the driver can tear off a layer and immediately have a clean visor. It usually just makes things easier, not so in Alonso’s case this time round.

Dr T

I think clearly the lesson is qualify on pole.

Do you think Nico will use this to sabotage Lewis at Spa this year?


This happened before recently to Kimi at Lotus in 2013, where Eric was there also, so he bring the same bad luck to McLaren.

Maybe they can invent some material that disintegrate at a specific temperate. Or just put it somewhere in the cockpit.


So the team had two laps notice of the problem, and didn’t call him in? I wonder at what stage they knew it was a tear off.


Likely after the race.

Ryan Morrison

What about they take inspiration from fighter jet air intakes and have it so there’s a shroud or cowling that faces slightly downwards and reduces the chance that something that comes from the cockpit will get lodged in there?

Paul KieferJr

This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a visor tear-off ruining someone’s day.


Yeah if you believe it. The fact Boullier felt the need to state he had ‘proof’ before anyone even asked him is proof really of only two things; that McLaren make so many stupid mistakes their excuses are wearing thin (a radiator cover was left on), and that McLaren tend to lie (breeze pushed Alonso off the track). The real story about McLaren is that after the break they’ve not improved in any meaningful way. No one even seemed to understand why Button’s car wouldn’t reach the mediocre performance they’d tuned it to in practice. This team is well along… Read more »


I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often…