Talk to any F1 stock car driver about set up and inevitably at some point they will eventually talk about brakes.
Unsurprisingly, brakes play a key role on an F1 stock car. Apart from helping the car to stop as it approaches a corner every few seconds, on shale they also help to turn the car as it pitches into a bend. Depending on whether the track is wet or dry the brake balance will be adjusted accordingly.
Mintex has supplied brake pads for F1 stock car racing for more than 20 years. As a result the working relationship between Mintex and the sport has been consistent and loyal.
Through the brand’s distributor Questmead, based in Rochdale, Mintex were a sponsor of the National Points Shootout last season, and have recently agreed to be the title sponsor of the National Points Championship again this year.
Mintex was established in 1908 and has been involved in the production and development of automotive brake friction technology ever since. Today, Mintex is a global leader in its field and its products are fitted on millions of cars around the world.
The company’s involvement in motorsport began in the 1920s when their brakes where used during the early years of Le Mans and helped the “Bentley Boys” secure all five of their victories during the 1920s and 1930s.
Mintex brakes were used on the Bugatti Type 57G during its victory in the race in 1937 and 1939, before being part of Jaguar’s success in 1951 with its classic C-Type. Jaguar secured five Le Mans wins between 1951-1957, with its final victory securing the top six places and gave Mintex its 11th success in the great 24-hour race.
Mintex brakes have been fitted to numerous cars driven by motorsport legends, including Stirling Moss in the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood, Mike Hawthorn, winner of the F1 world championship in 1958, and famously Jack Brabham, who won the Monaco Grand Prix in 1959.
Mintex enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Brabham, who came over from Australia and first raced a Cooper-Bristol FII car in Britain fitted with Mintex brakes. He remained loyal to the brand, and used Mintex throughout his career, which included victory in the F1 world championship three times, in 1959, 1960 and 1966.
Mintex are still involved in high-end motorsport including world rallying and single-seater racing, including with Carlin Motorsport, the multiple championship-winning Formula Three team who launched the careers of today’s Formula One Grand Prix stars, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Mintex is a brand of TMD Friction. TMD stands for Textar, Mintex and Don, three of the Group’s leading brands. Within Mintex there is Mintex Racing, which is where F1 stock car racing sits.
TMD Friction are now owned by a Japanese company called Minshinbo – the Group’s ultimate parent company.
Richard Barton is Commercial Vehicle Product manager for TMD Friction in the UK and also manages the motor racing arm of the company in the UK.
“Our core product is friction compounds for the brake industry, as opposed to clutches,” Barton explains. “We focus on our brake pads production and development and also lining development for commercial vehicles.”
Barton joined TMD more than 18 years ago as a student, and has worked for the company ever since.
“I started as a student and while it wasn’t something I’d planned, I’m still here,” he says. “I’ve worked in several different departments. I worked in research and development for a while, helped to develop some of the racing compounds for British cars and my current role is on the commercial vehicle product side.
“We sponsor one or two of the historic rally championships and a few of the smaller race series like the BMW Mini Challenge series. But of all the motorsport we are involved in, the F1 stock cars take part in the most races during a year.”
“I’ve been to a few meetings, the last one was at Coventry, and I was struck by how well supported the sport is – it has a really loyal following”
Mintex has played a key role in creating a brake pad that has level out the playing field in the sport.
“They approached us through our distributor, Questmead,” Barton explains. “Conrad Wilson, who is Mintex’s representative, was very much the driving force behind it.
“Not so long ago it was an open choice on which compound F1 stock cars could use. So naturally, those with the larger budgets were choosing the better friction compound. There was a decision taken that we needed to supply a compound that suited everybody from the lower budget to the mega budget and everyone had to use the same compound.
“So they all run the same now and so it gives them a level playing field braking-wise. It makes it better for the drivers, it brings them closer together and so it’s better for the spectators.”
The Mintex pads F1 stock cars use are mainly manufactured in the Mintex factory at Hartlepool, and the sport can use two different compounds – the M1144 compound and the harder M1166 compound.
The M1144 compound was designed for the fast road car and track day market, and delivers a medium torque level, while the M1166 is manufactured to work from cold and keep on working until hot, while holding its friction level.
With an optimum working temperature between 200°C and 400°C, this compound works well where the demands on the braking system do not reach high temperatures. Its stable braking performance make this compound suitable for saloon car, single seater and sportscar use.
Most drivers used the softer M1144 compound for shale racing, as the surface is less hard on brakes that Tarmac racing, although some drivers will sometimes use the harder compound.
Lee Fairhurst, the former World and two-time BSCDA British Drivers Champion, explains how he uses the Mintex compounds.
“I generally think you should have the same compound on each corner, because they’ve got different working temperatures,” Fairhurst says. “The M1144s are more for shale because they’re softer and they don’t take as much heat to work, whereas with the M1166s you have got to get more heat into them before they start working.
“So you tend to use the M1166s for Tarmac more. I do run them on shale as well because there are different shale tracks where it is OK to use them. At Sheffield this weekend you are hardly touching the brakes so i will use the softer compound, while at Belle Vue, for example, you are harder on the brakes.
“On Tarmac, Buxton is particularly hard on brakes, so it’s critical to get them right at a place like that.”
Along with the Mintex pads, brake calipers also make a difference to set up. For F1 stock cars there are two choices of caliper used, the four-piston and two-piston Transit caliper, while some drivers on Tarmac will also use vented brake discs with a vented caliper.
Fairhurst uses a slightly different caliper arrangement to most, with a four-piston caliper on the outside front wheel and a two-piston caliper on the nearside front.
“That’s just my choice,” Fairhurst says. “But as you are going into a corner, the weight is transferring mostly to the outside front and the inside front will go a bit light as the weight transfers.
“And you’ll find when you have a four-pot caliper on the inside you’ll be locking up in that corner all the time, So what’s the point of having a big caliper on if you are locking the wheel?”
“So I have just downsized the caliper on the front inside. As a result my car is just on the verge of locking up every time I go in to a corner, but it’s just enough for it not to lock up.”
The softer M1144 pads used on shale tend to last for a whole season, while the tougher M1166 pads on Tarmac usually need replacing after about five or six meetings as a consequence of harder use.
Barton was impressed by how F1 stock car drivers are constantly looking to improve set-up compared to many other forms of motorsport.
“In F1 stock car acing most of the drivers a really clued up,” says Barton.”Whereas in other forms of motorsport many don’t think enough about that side of racing.
“The Frankie Wainman Jnrs of this world listen and take any advice they can get to make the car quicker around the circuit. I can imagine the development in F1 stock car racing has come on considerably though the years.”
Neil Randon 2017