10 GREAT DRIVERS WE LOVE FOR THE WAY THEY WON USING BREMBO BRAKES

5/24/2018

Great loves are never forgotten even if destiny means that at some point different paths are taken.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​We refer to those drivers who made our hearts beat wildly, marveling us with astonishing comebacks or reassuring us with an incredible series of victories. Some rode motorbikes while others were at the wheel of cars - but they all and always used Brembo brakes.

 

We have met dozens of such champions in over 40 years of racing competitions. For some, we had a one day crush, for others a love affair for a single season, while with others still we enjoyed stable and long-lasting relationships.

 

And from among the latter we have chosen 10 who have left a mark in the history of motorsports - as well as in Brembo's own history. Unforgettable riders and drivers cherished in our hearts who we'd like to celebrate once again. ​


 

 
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The choice was far from easy - as confirmed by the heated discussions unleashed in our office and factory. We all made every effort to explain our reasons but it was simply impossible to keep everyone happy. After counting all the suggestions, the total came to 50 names - almost all great champions.

This was the most difficult moment in the entire selection process since excluding some potential candidates put a strain (we hope short-lived) on several historic friendships. Yet above all, we also tried to embrace all the main sporting disciplines without stubbornly focusing only on one of them. ​


 

​Niki Lauda: THE PIONEER

​Brembo made its debut in Formula 1 in 1975 with a small supply of cast iron disks for Team Ferrari whose drivers were Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni.

 

Lauda was the first to start in pole position with our brakes (the Spanish Gran Prix in 1975) and also the first to win a race (the Monte Carlo Gran Prix in the same year).

 

Yet above all he was the first driver to win the World Championship with Brembo brakes (1975), thereby also interrupting a period lasting 11 years without Ferrari winning a world title. This series of firsts suggested that we should nickname him The Pioneer because he rewarded Brembo's entry into Formula 1 racing with champagne. ​

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​Lauda knew how to extract the best from Brembo discs, braking hard when he had to catch up and managing the braking system and the rest of the car when he was in the lead: in the 1970s, mechanical failures frequently brought drivers to a standstill. Unlike other manufacturers, Brembo never let him down: over his career, Niki retired 5 times with brake trouble - but never during his time with Ferrari. ​


 

 

(Brembo cast iron disc used in Formula 1 during the '70s​)

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​Valentino Rossi: THE ENCYCLOPEDIA

Twenty-two years ago, Valentino Rossi made his debut in the World Championship riding an Aprilia RS125 with a 47 HP 2-stroke single-cylinder engine with a two-piece axially mounted front caliper with 4 pistons and a 273 mm diameter carbon disc, both made by Brembo.

After winning the title, he moved up to 250 where, in Winter 1998, he was one of the first to test radial calipers.

 

He also triumphed in this category and continued his winning ways even after moving up to the 500 class and Grand Prix motorcycle events. His braking style involves using the front brake with 3 fingers - namely, the index, middle and ring fingers: while braking longer than his rivals, Valentino rarely lifts the rear wheel, demonstrating a sensitivity that has few equals. ​

 

​In the course of his career he has ridden Aprilia, Honda, Yamaha and Ducati bikes - but has always used Brembo brakes. Since 1996, The Doctor has won 9 World Championships and 115 GPs, setting dozens of records that will be extremely difficult to beat: the most incredible is the more than 20 years between his first and most recent victory.

 

A book would hardly be enough to tell the story of all his achievements, on track and after crossing the finish line - an entire Encyclopedia would be needed!​


 

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(​Brembo braking system used in MotoGP with aluminum calipers and standard carbon-carbon discs)

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​Ayrton Senna: THE LOVER

Ayrton Senna was the first driver to understand the importance of technological evolution for Formula 1 brakes: unlike many of his colleagues of the time, he loved experimenting with new solutions, from calipers with 4 pads, others with 8 pistons and even aluminum alloys for greater rigidity and power.

 

After winning 6 GPs between 1985 and 1987 (the first 2 in the rain) driving a Lotus equipped with Brembo brakes, he insisted on keeping them even when he moved to McLaren.

 

After he was given his way in 1989, he won 2 World Championships (1990 and 1991) hands down and only missed a third by a trifle. All in all, he won 33 GPs using Brembo brakes. ​

 

​Ayrton was so enamored of Brembo's braking systems that he insisted on having them even when he was hired by Williams. In any case, despite having to retire 60 times during his career, not one stop was caused by the brakes. He was due to test them a few days after the accident that cost him his life in Imola, in 1994. He flew to heaven far too early.​​


 

 

(Brembo 4-piston caliper used in Lotus by Ayrton Senna in the second half of the '80s)


 

d) Mick Doohan: THE HARD-HEAD​

After cutting his teeth against phenomenal American riders, by 1992 Mick Doohan seemed ready to reap the benefits of his class: the first 7 GPs of the year in the 500 category saw him win 5 times and come second in the other 2 races.

 

This dream was interrupted during the Assen trials (Holland), when he risked having his right leg amputated. Dr. Costa rushed to his bedside and avoided the amputation but his limb was no longer able to operate the rear brake.

 

To cope with this impairment, Brembo engineers designed a specific solution: a command on the handlebar capable of performing the same function simply by using just one finger. ​

 

​This was how the Brembo thumb pump that helped the Australian regain pre-accident performance levels came into being. After perfecting the automatisms through an exhausting series of tests sessions, from 1994 to 1998 Mick won 5 consecutive World Championships in the premier class riding Honda bikes with Brembo brakes. Just the right reward for a talented rider and a hard-headed man.​

 

(​Brembo thumb master cylinder: this is the modern version of the pump used for the first time by Doohan)


 

​Michael Schumacher: THE CANNIBAL

On his Formula 1 debut in 1991 to replace Bertrand Gachot, who was under arrest in London, Michael Schumacher immediately showed his pure class.

 

Sent into orbit by Benetton, winning 2 World titles for the team in 1994 and 1995, the German driver became a legend thanks to five consecutive world titles (2000-2004) with Ferrari, which he helped restore to its rightful place - namely, on top of the world. Statistics prove that Schumi was indisputably the greatest, a true Cannibal who aspired to break every record: 7 World Championships, 91 GP victories, 68 pole positions, 77 fastest laps, 155 podiums and 24.148 laps in the lead. 

 

On all these occasions, without exception, he always drove cars equipped with Brembo braking systems, including his three-year comeback period 2010-2012 with Mercedes after his first retirement. ​



 

​Schumi could discuss things on a par with engineers: thanks to his sensitivity and help, Brembo significantly improved the development of brake discs and calipers. He preferred a short, very reactive braking system: despite not being a big man, he was able to apply great force to the pedal. He demand brakes ensuring constant behavior with no deterioration throughout the entire GP. Keep fighting Michael.​


 

 
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​Carl Fogarty: THE TIGHTROPE WALKER

When talking about the golden years of the Superbike World Championship, the first name on enthusiasts' lips is Carl Fogarty.

 

Winner of the last 3 editions of the Formula TT Championship 1988-1990 over the most iconic road circuits in the world such as the Mountain Course on the Isle of Man, the Englishman with the ice-cold eyes took off with Ducati where he remained loyal for 8 years.

 

Riding the Red Bikes made in of Borgo Panigale, King Carl won 55 races, took the podium 100 times and won 4 World Superbike Championships (1994, 1995 and 1998 riding a 916 and 1999 on the 996): no other Ducati rider can boast such a set of trophies. Not to mention 5 victories and 10 podiums with Honda in 1996.

 

And Brembo brakes were unique common denominator over his career - and were also fitted to the 300 examples of the Ducati S4 Fogarty. ​​

 

​Fogarty was beloved for his aggressive style and courage on the track that meant he resembled a kind of two-wheeled tightrope walker. He generally used a double 320 mm floating disc on the front brake, while he initially used a 200 mm disc for the rear brake (on the 916), then a 220 mm version (on the 996). These discs were naturally made of steel since carbon had already banned for the Superbike World Championship.​

 

 

​Sebastian Vettel: THE LOYALIST

Since making his debut Formula 1 in 2006 as the third driver for BMW-Sauber, the German driver has only used one brand of brake discs and calipers.

 

Brembo, of course (hence his nickname as The Loyalist), and that is why in 2015, on the occasion of our first 40 years in Formula 1, he personally visited Brembo Racing in Curno: "Driving fast also means you must able to brake hard.

 

This is why I am delighted with this partnership." Using Brembo brake systems, the German driver gave Red Bull its first victory (and first pole) in its history at the Italian GP in 2008. Vettel was then the main architect of Red Bull's 8 world titles: 4 Drivers' and 4 Manufacturers' World Championships.

 

For the time being, only the result fans most hope for is still missing: the World Championship with Ferrari with which he is already in double figures for GP victories. ​

 

​Technicians who have worked with him say that Vettel is a "little Schumi" because he makes a massive contribution to the development of the car. He also has innate sensitivity for friction materials: he is one of the few drivers who can distinguish between one set of carbon and another. He likes to start qualifying heats with a new set of brakes and prefers a very short and reactive brake pedal.​

 

(​Sebastian Vettel with Alberto Bombassei, Brembo CEO, during the German driver's visit to the Brembo plant where the braking systems for his single-seaters are made)​


 

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​Antonio Cairoli: THE BALANCER

 

We do not talk about this topic very often so it might be thought that Brembo brakes are only effective on asphalt. Brembo actually also makes braking systems for off-road competitions, both cars and motorcycles alike, as well as competitive events involving both types of vehicle: this is demonstrated by the incredible number of Dakar Rallies, Baja 1000s and WRC races won in recent years.

 

And then there's Antonio Cairoli who, since joining KTM in 2010, has won 4 Mx1 and 2 MxGP World Championships using Brembo brakes. Success in scrambling depends less on power than on modulation of the braking system to ensure essential control of the bike in low-adherence conditions. This is why the Sicilian rider uses a single front floating caliper with two 24 mm pistons.

 

The Sicilian rider uses an axial brake pump at the front with an integrated tank and 9 mm piston because it ensures greater ease of use, superior strength and takes up very little space on the bike. On the other hand, Cairoli uses a 13 mm Brembo pump combined with a billet caliper with 26 mm piston plunger. this pairing allows him to take corners at a greater angle while avoiding unwanted sliding. a true Balancer.

 


 

​Tom Kristensen: THE NIGHT OWL

Winning the Le Mans 24 Hours for rally drivers is equivalent to winning a Formula 1 World Championship. Yet while a world title can also be won even when making mistakes, winning in the most famous endurance race in the world takes a touch of perfection to avoid mechanical failures and stay on track.

 

By no means easy, considering the top speeds reached and the exhausting duration. In other words, drivers have to know how to drive fast without over-doing it, especially during the night. The master of this driving technique is Tom Kristensen who has won the Le Mans 24 Hours with Brembo brakes eight times: 7 successes with Audi (first with the R8, followed by the R10 and then the R18 e-tron Quattro) and 1 (in 1997) with Porsche.

 

And he did not even have to replace the discs and pads in the course of his last 4 victories despite braking time representing 15% of the overall race: to put it in even simpler terms, this means that during the 24 Hours brakes are operative for about 3.15 hours.

 

​The Brembo carbon brake discs used by the Danish driver for the last win in 2013 were 32 mm thick with 400 ventilation holes: compared to Formula 1, which has always had to combat excessive overheating, here braking systems have to prevent temperature falling too much, especially at night or in neutral. But with a Night Owl such as Kristensen everything is easier.​

 

(​Brembo braking system with carbon-carbon disc and aluminum caliper for the Le Mans 24-Hours)​


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​Marc Marquez: THE MARTIAN

You once only became world champion in the 500 class (replaced in 2002 by MotoGP) at 27-28 years old; this age has since dropped but no one can match the precocious records of Marc Marquez: 6 world titles to his name, including 4 MotoGPs, 61 GPs won, 73 pole positions and 102 podiums - before he was even 25 years old!

 

These figures suggest the possibility of beating many of Giacomo Agostini's records who, unlike the Spaniard, did not benefit from Brembo brakes.

 

On the contrary, since his very first 125 successes Marquez has always used Brembo braking systems: in the 125 class, he used a 218 mm diameter steel disc at the front with a bush mount and a 2-piston radial caliper. ​

 

​After moving up to Moto2, he immediately made optimal use of 290 mm discs and 4-piston calipers. And on his MotoGP debut in 2013, he quickly adapted to carbon discs and radial calipers on both wheels. Marc is accustomed to operate the front brake with just his index finger: nonetheless, he exerts such exceptional force as to lift lifting the rear tire off the ground.

And he is unafraid to exaggerate even with the rear brake, as seen by frequent slides on his Honda RC213V. As if this were not enough, he was the also first rider to have won a 500-MotoGP race using carbon (Brembo) discs in the rain: a result considered impossible for mankind only a few years earlier. A Martian. ​


​​(​Set of Brembo calipers for MotoGP​)​

AND IF 10 ARE NOT ENOUGH

 

It is highly likely that you do not agree with all 10 names we have chosen considering the endless number of riders and drivers competing on 2 and 4 wheels since the mid-seventies, when we first entered the competition world.

 

Let us know about how many of these 10 personalities you agree with and who you would replace with your own choices. The champions voted by the "popular jury" may well appear in a second article to highlight their important contributions to the world of motorsports. ​​


 
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Brembo S.p.A. | P.IVA 00222620163

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