LIVE BLOG: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on March 28, 2014 8:13 am
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8:45 AM – Brembo released some information yesterday on updates to the IndyCar brakes that were made over the off-season:

Brembo begins its third season as the exclusive supplier of brake systems for the Verizon IndyCar Series this weekend at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Brembo’s original design of the brake system for IndyCar provided a reliably strong, yet lightweight system, which yielded high performance that was used for both ovals and road courses. Brembo engineered a 6-piston, monobloc aluminum caliper machined from billet with titanium- radiated pistons (28/30/36 mm) weighing a mere 2 kg. This innovative system incorporated lightweight CER200 carbon-carbon discs, similar to rotors used in Formula 1 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and CCR400 carbon pads.

During the off-season, Brembo introduced several changes to improve the effectiveness of its IndyCar braking system, including a geometry change in the disc and pad and the development of a new master cylinder. New rotor material with a new densification process was developed and a reduction in the annulus of the disc and pad was implemented in order to help improve the stability of the system in the braking zone. This reduction also reduces the weight and provides more efficient cooling. These changes have also reduced the “warm-up time” for the carbon, allowing the parts to come up to a stable operating temperature quicker. This will be the new spec for 2014 and all teams will be supplied prior to the first race.

At the request of IndyCar teams, Brembo developed a new master cylinder designed to accept a travel sensor in order to acquire braking data. This will help the teams to gain a better understanding of how the brakes are performing on the track.

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8:23 AM – Good morning from Saturday at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg! It looks like it’ll be an interesting day for qualifying: there was rain overnight, the winds are strong this morning, and the clouds are moving fast. There are Pirelli World Challenge cars on track right now and the Indy Lights will practice after them, so there should be a well-established dry line by the time the IndyCars go out but the situation could change at any moment. The full schedule for the day can be found in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Event Summary.

I spent some time reflecting on Dan Wheldon on my way in today, as I have for much of this week. This is my first time attending this race since 2010, and my most vivid memory of seeing Dan in action was at that event. He was something of a local celebrity, even more so than elsewhere, having made St. Petersburg his adopted home town. I remember him coming out of his transporter with his PR man of the time, and they were clearly in a hurry to get somewhere but there was a throng of fans waiting outside. Dan made a point of ensuring every photo was taken and every autograph was signed before he was willing to move on, and he did it all with that most gracious demeanor of his. It’s a story about Dan that reads like many others, of course, but that moment frozen in time defines Dan so very well that it will stay with me for a lifetime.

The Verizon IndyCar series will be reflecting a little more on memories of Dan this afternoon as James Hinchcliffe is added to the Victory Circle monument in honor of his win here last year.

The sun is just starting to peek out here for a moment as the Pirelli World Challenge session comes to a close. Lights cars are on track next. We have all four Mazda Road to Indy series here this weekend and I’m only one person, but I’ll keep up with it all for you as best I can.

By the way, if you’re at the track this morning, don’t forget to join us for the Indy Fans Tweet-Up outside the Mahaffey Theater at 11 AM. Hope to see you there!

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