An in-depth look at the Verizon IndyCar Series braking systems supplied exclusively by Brembo
August is a busy month for the Verizon IndyCar Series and with the last three races of the season with Mid-Ohio on August 2, Pocono on August 23 and the season finale race at Sonoma on August 30. Since each course is completely different from the others, it is impossible to make predictions. The only exception to this is Brembo, the series' exclusive brake systems supplier that will undoubtedly equip the three winning single-seaters.
Brembo debuted in the American open-wheel racing during the 1989 CART championship, when it outfitted Lola of the Kraco Racing team and driver Bobby Rahal. The mutually satisfying relationship continued and led to Rahal winning the 1992 championship.
Since 2011, Brembo has been the exclusive supplier to the IndyCar Series, a task that has been anything but easy due to the need of producing a braking system that could be used on both the oval and road courses. This is the reason why a symmetrical system is used, which at first glance doesn't seem to perform as well on the oval courses where all of the curves are to the left.
The truth is that brakes are only used occasionally on the oval tracks. For example, at the Indianapolis 500, if there are no caution flags, the drivers can do nearly 30 laps without touching their brakes. At the Indy race, brakes are used only if there is an accident and when entering the pit lane.
The opposite is true at Mid-Ohio where the drivers use their brakes 27.7 percent of the time, the record high for the series. Considerable use of the brakes is also seen at St. Petersburg (20%), Long Beach (19.7%), Toronto (17.7%) and Detroit (15.5%). Not coincidentally, all of these are temporary street circuits.
These street circuits also present elevation and road surface variations that put the braking systems to the test. The prime example of this is St. Petersburg, where the airport runway serves as the main straightaway: different colored- and sized-marks have been painted on the asphalt in varied increments and the surfacing on the end section is more recent than that on the rest of the track.
Compared to Formula 1, the brake discs used in IndyCar are bigger (324 mm) and heavier because it utilizes a larger quantity of carbon, the CER200. The brake pads are made of CER400 carbon, while the monobloc aluminum caliper is machined from billet and has six titanium-radiated pistons, weighing in at just two kg.
Each team can choose the spring weight to mount behind the pistons, which reduces movement inside the caliper and stabilizes the pistons. The springs are particularly useful on the curbed sections and when the asphalt is full of holes.
Brembo, Italian technology for a strong American passion.