When you think about the abilities of a Formula 1 car, its acceleration and downforce are usually what come to mind.
But in the last few years the braking systems in F1 have become arguably just as impressive. Before we dive into how they work, let’s look at the basics of braking and how the previous conventional system worked.
Much like the brakes in your car (unless you own an Alfa Romeo Guilia, but we’ll get to that), the system used pre-2014 in F1 cars had direct physical connection from the pedal to the caliper.
To simplify it somewhat, pressure from the pedal transfers to pressure on the fluid in the brake lines, which in turn does the same to the callipers and, well, more pressure, but this time for the callipers, applying friction to the disks and slowing the car. Rather dramatically, in the case of F1.
In 2009, the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) was introduced to F1, and this changed the braking game somewhat.
As KERS harvests power under braking, it also creates friction and results in more dramatic deceleration. In 2009 this wasn’t a huge issue for drivers, as KERS was limited to harvest a maximum of just under 60kW. Until 2014, rear brakes were still hydraulic.
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