Austrian GP Braking Challenges

The Formula 1 circus returns to Europe this weekend for the Austrian Grand Prix which the Brembo engineers say is in the “medium” level of difficulty – on a scale of 1 to 5 it is a 3 — for the race cars’ brakes.

The Red Bull Ring also hosts the MotoGP, although the track is slightly different since the bikes have to tackle a chicane at Corner 2. This variation reduced speed at Corner 3 where an accident occurred in 2020 involving an out-of-control bike that crossed the track, fortunately without hitting any other riders.

Niki – first in everything

The first corner of the Austrian circuit is named in honor of Niki Lauda, who died in 2019. Ten years ago, Brembo presented Lauda with the “Bernie Ecclestone Award 2013” resembling a Formula One braking system, acknowledging his contribution to the history of Formula One as a driver, team consultant, TV commentator and non-executive President of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team.

Lauda made a fine contribution to the success of Brembo in Formula 1 in that precisely when Team Ferrari began using Brembo cast iron discs in 1975, it won the World Driver’s Title for the first time in 11 years.

In the same year, Lauda was also the first to take pole position and win a GP using Brembo brake components: over his career, Nike retired 5 times because of brake problems – but never when racing with Brembo brakes.

Three braking sections of at least 5.3 G

As already mentioned, MotoGP riders have to brake even through Corner 2, whereas Formula One single seaters take this bend at full speed. This is not the only factor that determines the differences in overall braking times per lap: 10.7 seconds for F1 against 30 seconds for MotoGP. The differences in braking distances are even wider: at Corner 1, cars only need 101 meters to decelerate by 178 km/h, whereas MotoGP bikes need 242 meters.

In managing to brake in such short distances, thanks especially to having four wheels, F1 drivers are subjected to significant decelerations; in 3 braking moments of no less than 5.3 G and in three others of more than 3 G. Loads on the brake pedal are also very high, with peaks of 175-177 kg. On adding up all the braking sections during the race, from the start to the finishing flag, each driver exerts a load of 62 tons on the brake pedal. 

177 kg (313 lb) load on the brake pedal

Of the seven braking sections in the Austrian GP, three are classified as being very demanding on the brakes, three as medium difficulty and the last one as light.

The stiffest braking is at first corner after the starting line. With a load on the brake pedal of 177 km/h and deceleration of 5,5 km/h (318 to 140 km/h or 172 to 92 mph) in just 1.85 seconds, while covering 101 meters (91 yards).


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