Brake manufacturer points to Red Bull as investigation into Max Verstappen failure continues

Thomas Maher
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen suffered a rear brake issue on his Red Bull RB20 in the Australian Grand Prix.

The brake issue encountered by Max Verstappen in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix may have been caused by a set-up choice.

Verstappen retired from the Australian Grand Prix on Lap 3, having encountered a brake issue that kicked in the instant the race began and resulted in his right rear wheel hub catching fire.

Max Verstappen retires from the Australian Grand Prix

Having led off the line from pole position, Verstappen came under pressure from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on Lap 2 and was overtaken after the Dutch driver had a wobble through Turn 3 that put him in the clutches of the Spaniard.

Verstappen was already struggling with the balance of his car due to the brake problem, which became evident at the end of the lap as his right rear wheel started to smoke – becoming increasingly intense as the lap progressed.

Having fallen behind Sainz, Verstappen plummeted down the field as he slowed with the realisation his car was in trouble, and he returned to the pits. Entering the pitlane, the right rear wheel hub exploded as the fire behind the wheel started to cook vital components and melted the metals behind.

It was Verstappen’s first mechanical retirement since the same race at the start of the 2022 season, and it put an end to a remarkable run of races as the Dutch driver was closing in on a 10th consecutive race win – had he won in Australia, he’d have matched his own record, set last year.

With mechanical failures being incredibly rare for Red Bull, the post-mortem into what went wrong is yet to be concluded, but brake manufacturer Brembo has stated that there were no issues with the components or materials used in the manufacturing of their supplied parts.

In a statement to, Brembo stated the cause of the problems encountered by Max Verstappen is “not attributable” to their materials or components, nor to component anomalies or a malfunction in the materials used to make the components.

As a result, the issue is most likely to have stemmed from a set-up choice made by Red Bull regarding the configuration of how to run the brakes, meaning there is “no direct Brembo responsibility” for the problem, however, this has not yet been confirmed by Red Bull.

With Verstappen taking the retirement in good spirits, team boss Christian Horner explained what had unfolded from Red Bull’s perspective.

“It looks like the brake is bound on pretty much from the start of the race and that’s why, as Max described, it was like having a handbrake, which caused him to have a couple of moments,” he said.

“Then of course, the heat’s building and building and building, and then the resultant fire [happened].

“So the car, obviously we’ve got all the bits back now and going through the damage, and we’ll go through and understand exactly what’s caused it.

“Obviously a driver is going to be frustrated when he gets out of a car from a retirement, but I think he’s been very gracious with the team and all the mechanics.

“We are all one team and that DNF obviously hurts everybody in the same way. So, it’s a matter of learning from it.

“We’ve had two years of no mechanical DNFs, which has been remarkable, so it’s a matter of understanding what’s caused it, learning from it, and moving on.” recommends

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Bernie Collins: There will be ‘little evidence left’ after brake fire

While Brembo has been able to rule themselves out of being the root cause of the issue that took Verstappen out, Sky F1 broadcaster and former F1 engineer Bernie Collins said Red Bull’s task of figuring out what went wrong will be made more complicated by the fact Verstappen drove for so long with temperatures soaring.

“The first bit is trying to figure out the root cause of it and it’s interesting… when we watched the race and listened to Verstappen’s radio, there was very little discussion about the brake temperatures on there through that first stint,” she said on the Sky F1 podcast.

“There’s no real information from the pit wall to say ‘We can see that the caliper is trailing, there’s pressure on the brakes. There was no discussion of the temperatures rising, which has got to be there in the data.

“So, hopefully, there’s something more in the Red Bull data that just wasn’t discussed. We saw [Esteban] Ocon had an issue with a tear-off in his brake duct so, if you have this runaway brake temperature, [pitting] is the first thing you should really consider doing with the car. You don’t want to take a pit stop then, but that’s better than the DNF and the blowout situation that we had.

“So because it’s exploded, there’s going to be very little evidence left. So it’s gonna be in the data, what can they see what’s gone wrong.

“It could be any matter of things. They will be going through what specific components were fitted, what the life of those components was, and any inspections that they’ve gone through before they’ve gone on the car.

“Is it like a batch issue with the disc or the pads or what has gone wrong? So there’s going to be a lot of investigation done from Red Bull’s side, there are so many variables in terms of how it’s built up – is it just a little bolt or nut that has fallen in and got trapped and that’s caused the extra friction?

“There would have been loads of indications that the rear right was too hot, and the first indication that we see of it is Max reporting it on the radio.

“So there’s a lot to go through there to check, because it would amaze me if they couldn’t have seen it in temperatures or pressure in advance and taken some sort of action.

“That would have been better if there was any chance of rectifying it, rather than the way it finished. So they will be annoyed because it’ll have destroyed a load of components around it.”

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