To go quickly in F1 in terms of lap time, you need to be good at stopping; it sounds odd but it’s true. At some venues almost a quarter of the lap is spent standing on the quiet pedal.
Other venues are more flat out. We all know the highest top speed of the F1 season, but what is the biggest stop of the year and was the braking more intense with the new high downforce F1 regulations?
Italian brake manufacturer Brembo has released figures on how the new 2017 F1 cars braked for each circuit, including the amount of time spent on the brakes and the highest recorded values of deceleration.
Brembo completed a clean sweep of race wins in 2017 with the teams and drivers it supplies in F1.
Unsurprisingly, both Monaco and Singapore require the most use from the brake pedal, with 23% of their respective laps spent under braking thanks to the stop-start nature of the complex street circuit layouts.
The Hungaroring is the next with 22%, while Mexico and Shanghai both require 21% of the driver’s time to be spent using the brakes.
Spa and Monza require the least amount of time off the accelerator, requiring just 12% each of the lap spent under braking as both include a number of high-speed areas.
As a result, Monza requires the most effort from the brakes, sustaining an average deceleration of 5.5g – almost 0.9g higher than Sochi, the next most demanding circuit. In particular, the Parabolica creates a maximum deceleration of 6.6g, where the driver exerts a maximum load of 232kg on the brake pedal to reduce the overall stopping distances.
At the other end of the scale, Suzuka’s fast, flowing arrangement produces an average deceleration of just 3.3g, as drivers spent very little time on the brakes.
Not surprisingly Silverstone, Spa and Monza are at the bottom end of the scale of the times spent braking at between 12 and 13%.
Brembo has also categorised the most “difficult” circuits on braking, taking into account environmental factors and track characteristics.
Thanks to the high altitude and time spent using the brakes, Mexico is one of four circuits identified as the most challenging. The Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Canadian Grands Prix also offer the largest difficulty to Brembo, thanks to their collective heavy braking zones.
Where’s the biggest stop of the season?
The Number 1 hardest braking zone of the year was Turn 8 at Abu Dhabi, the tight left hander at the end of the long back straight, requiring drivers to drop from 204 to 44mph in the space of 73 metres. The peak deceleration was 5.2g, the same value as with the 2016 cars.
Meanwhile the peak deceleration of the season was that produced at the final chicane at Montreal at 5.6g, due to distance constraints, as the cars have to halve their velocities in less than 50 metres.
The 2017 calendar’s other most demanding corners also include the first turns at Monza and Bahrain, both producing about 5.2g of deceleration as drivers drop from their maximum speeds to about 50mph, while the braking zone at the end of the Shanghai circuit’s back straight takes cars down to about 41mph as drivers drop from eighth gear to second.
To cope with these demands, teams often drill holes in the curved face of the brake discs in order to improve heat dissipation. When the brake caliper makes contact with the disc to slow the car, a huge amount of heat is produced during a braking scenario.
This means that the carbon disc is subject to thermal expansion and, if not kept within an ideal temperature range, may deform under load. With any sudden deformation, a brake failure is usually imminent, and so the engineers must monitor these temperatures carefully.
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