SUZUKA, Japan — The Formula 1 circus is revving up for its return to Japan, where last year’s race was marred by adverse weather conditions and time constraints, allowing only 28 of the scheduled 53 laps to be completed. This weekend, the racing spectacle returns to the Suzuka International Racing Course, known for its unique layout and challenges.
Suzuka’s circuit is classified as one of the least taxing on brakes, boasting a difficulty rating of 1 on a scale of 1 to 5 by Brembo technicians, a distinction shared only with Silverstone. However, this does not mean the drivers will have an easy time.
To achieve a stellar lap at Suzuka, attention to detail is paramount, given the track’s undulating terrain and the iconic figure-of-eight layout, making it the sole venue in the world championship with both an underpass (between turns nine and 10) and an overpass.
Brembo Dominance in Japan
At Suzuka, vehicles equipped with Brembo braking components have clinched victory in 23 Formula 1 Grand Prix races, including seven with Scuderia Ferrari and six with the legendary Michael Schumacher.
Schumacher, in his 19 appearances on this track, secured eight pole positions, stood on the podium nine times, and led for an impressive 309 laps, all with Brembo brakes at his disposal.
Less than two years ago, Brembo established a new office in Tokyo, strategically located near the iconic Tokyo Tower in the Minato district. This move solidifies Brembo‘s commitment as a solution provider for local automobile and motorcycle manufacturers, who have been global leaders for decades.
The Art of Braking: Suzuka Style
The Suzuka International Racing Course, like other challenging circuits, features lengthy, high-speed turns that demand minimal braking. Drivers engage their brakes at 12 points around the track, but at three of these points, they need to shed a mere 15 km/h (9.32 mph), and at another three, the speed reduction from start to finish is less than 70 km/h (43.5 mph). Consequently, on these six turns, the brakes are in use for less than 8 tenths of a second.
Even during the initial six turns after the race’s start, the brake pedal experiences low stress, barely surpassing 70 kg (154 pounds) at its peak. It comes as no surprise that the total stress exerted on the brake pedal by drivers throughout the race amounts to a whopping 52 metric tons (57.3 t). In sum, brakes are in operation for just over 12.5 seconds per lap, making up 14% of the race’s duration.
A Hair-Raising Deceleration
Among the 12 braking points at Suzuka, two are labeled as demanding on the brakes, three pose moderate difficulty, and the remaining seven are considered light. The most formidable of them all is Turn 16, where cars hurtle from 304 km/h to 96 km/h (189 mph to 60 mph) in a mere 105 meters (115 yards).
During the brief 2.29 seconds when brakes are actively applied, drivers exert a formidable 144 kg (317 pounds) load on the pedal and endure a peak deceleration of 4.8 G, showcasing the immense skill and precision required to navigate this challenging circuit.