More than half a ton of force every minute for the Formula 1 drivers at Spa-Francorchamps

8/22/2017

At Les Combes, the cars brake less than before but still have to watch out for the former Bus Stop turn.

After the long summer break, Formula 1 is starting back up and as per tradition, the engines will fire up at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, home of the Belgium GP, from August 25 to 26 in the 12th race of the 2017 World Championship.


 

Nestled in the Ardenne hills, it is unanimously considered the most complete track in the World Championship for its combination of fast turns, blind corners, elevation changes and infinite straightaways.

This is the 50th time Formula 1 has returned to the track, but the circuit has changed dramatically over the course of the years: since 2007 is has measured 4,352 miles, making this the longest track in the World Championship.

It stands out for having 19 turns, yet it only has four braking sections characterized by extreme outputs of energy.

The cooling off of the braking systems is guaranteed by the presence of big, fast corners like Eau Rouge and Blanchimont, where the brakes aren't touched at all.

The unknown variable is the weather: Last year, the air temperature reached 84°F but in 2014 it didn't go over 60°.

According to Brembo technicians, who have classified the 20 tracks in the World Championship on a scale of 1 to 10, the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is one of the least demanding on the brakes.

The Belgium racetrack earned a difficulty index of 5, which surpasses only Silverstone, Suzuka and Interlagos.

 

 
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The demand on the brakes during the GP

Even though it is a really long track, the brakes are used barely eight times per lap, just like in Barcelona except that track is 1.4 miles shorter.

Additionally, two of the eight braking sections on the Belgian circuit last less than one second. Which explains why the brakes are used for less than 13 seconds per lap, like in Monza where the brakes see action for only 12% of the race.

The mean deceleration per lap is 4 G, the same registered on the tracks in Baku and Budapest. The average is lowered by the braking in sectors 2 and 3, with the exception of the chicane at the top that was once called the Bus Stop (turn 18).

Obviously then, the energy each car dissipates in braking during the entire GP race is lower than at other tracks: The total of 102 kWh here is less than half of the energy dissipated on Hungaroring.
Still, this amount is equivalent to what seven medium-sized spa tubs consume on daily basis.

From the starting line to the checkered flag, each driver will exert a total load of 46 metric tons on the brake pedal. Although lower than other GP races, it is still a sizable force that is equivalent to half a ton for every minute racing.


 

The most demanding braking sections

Of the 8 braking sections at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, only one is classified as demanding on the brakes, five are of medium difficulty and the other two are light. The toughest on the braking system is at the second to the last corner before the finish line: The single-seaters arrive going 191 mph and decelerate to 48 mph in just 71 yards, which is less than half the space needed to stop a station wagon going 124 mph.

The Formula 1 drivers only need to brake for 2.45 seconds, but they have to apply a force of 346 lbs on the brake pedal and they experience a deceleration of 4.6 G. Another noteworthy braking section is La Source at turn 1 because in just 66 yards, the single-seaters have to decelerate by more than 124 mph to go from 180 mph to 48 mph.

The force on the drivers is slightly more contained: They apply a load of 335 lbs on the brake pedal and experience 4.5 G in deceleration. Compared to the previous years, braking at Les Combes (turn 5) has been reduced due to the larger size tires that enable the drivers to enter the corner at a faster speed: The cars start to turn going 100 mph after having cut their speed almost in half in 1.58 seconds and 48 yards.


 

Brembo performance

Single-seaters with Brembo brakes have won 23 of the 40 GP races in Belgium that they took part in. Ferrari hasn't won here since 2009, although its 11 victories make it the most-winning team with Brembo; four of these were won by Michael Schumacher, who also won twice with Benetton.


 

Brembo S.p.A. | P.IVA 00222620163

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