MONACO – With its 80th Grand Prix underway this weekend, the renowned Formula 1 Grand Prix De Monaco, from May 26-28, is set to bring high-speed excitement to the streets of Monaco. Engineers from braking system expert Brembo have provided a comprehensive guide to understanding the unique challenges and strategies at this iconic racing event.
The Monaco Circuit, with its rich history dating back to its first race in 1929, is considered a medium difficulty track for brakes by Brembo technicians. The rating of 3 out of 5 on the difficulty index aligns it with the last two races’ tracks.
Prominent for its high aerodynamic load and extended braking time, the circuit stretches through the heart of the principality. Notably, various parts of the track, including the Louis 11 Tunnel, have been recently repaved using 15,000 square meters of asphalt. These changes could potentially raise the caliper and brake fluid temperatures due to an increased transfer of braking force onto the ground.
Comparatively, the circuit hosted a Formula E race three weeks prior. Top drivers in the qualifying round finished their laps in less than 1 minute and 29 seconds, a notable 19 seconds slower than Formula 1, due to differences in power, weight, tires, and brake system, despite both categories using carbon fiber discs.
In the technical comparison, Brembo’s Formula 1 discs, measuring 328 mm (12.9 in.) in diameter at the front and 280 mm (11.02 in.) at the rear, dwarf those of Formula E. The latter sport steel discs of 258 mm (10.1 in.) at the front and 228 mm (8.9 in.) at the rear, provided solely for safety purposes. The distinction in ventilation is substantial: over 1,000 holes per disc for Formula 1, compared to solid, unventilated discs for Formula E.
Despite being the shortest track in the World Championship at 3,337 meters (2.07 miles), the Monaco Circuit requires drivers to utilize their brakes 12 times per lap, similar to Baku, which is over 6 km (3.7 miles) long. Due to the absence of long straight sections, top speeds don’t exceed 300 km/h (186 mph), resulting in stopping distances less than 100 meters (109 yards). Brake pedal load varies significantly, from approximately 60 kilograms (132 lbs.) to over 140 kilograms (308.6 lbs.), totalling a massive 97 tons (107 metric tons) per driver from start to finish.
Among the 12 braking sections, two are notably demanding on the brakes, four are of medium difficulty, and six are light. The most challenging section is Turn 10, following the tunnel, requiring drivers to decelerate from 283 km/h (176 mph) to 85 km/h (52.8 mph) in just 96 meters (105 yards) over 2.18 seconds, applying a load of 142 kg (313 lbs.) on the brake pedal, with a deceleration of 4.7G.
For video game enthusiasts and aspiring drivers, Brembo engineers advise cautious braking on Turn 10, avoiding sharp right turns post-tunnel that may result in a guard rail collision. Recommended strategy includes initiating braking near the plants on the right wall, smoothly steering into the turn below 120 km/h (74.5 mph), and handling the double turn in second gear to maintain optimum speed.