In this graphic, the quadrants on the right highlight the tracks with the most violent deceleration. Canada, Austria and Italy prove to be the circuits with the greatest deceleration registering over 4g on average. In the lower quadrants on the other hand, circuits characterised by low dissipated energy and low braking power stand out, like Suzuka, Silverstone and Spa (these last ones are on the lower right-hand side). In adverse weather conditions, the low energy in play on these tracks can present problems tied to excessive cooling and the so-called 'glazing' of the friction material.
Indeed, the carbon with which the brake discs and pads are made do not guarantee the proper generation of friction at an operation temperature that is too low, jeopardising performance during braking. In the upper left-hand quadrant are the least challenging circuits as far as the intensity of braking, but they are by no means to be overlooked for the energy that the single-seaters have to dissipate in braking throughout the duration of the whole GP.
The toughest circuits from the Brembo technicians' perspective
The second graphic provides an outlook that is a bit different from that of the first graphic. The difficulty a circuit places on the braking systems is rated by quantitative indicators like those that have been evaluated up to now, however qualitative factors that are difficult to measure must also be taken into consideration. Besides grip, aerodynamic load, atmospheric conditions (such as high ambient temperatures that increase the mechanical grip and make heat dissipation generated in braking more difficult), and the quantity and intensity of the braking sections, it is primarily the positioning and sequence of the brakings that play a decisive role in determining how tough a circuit is on the braking system.
Just as important as the other conditions is the fact that braking occurring in a tight sequence and at a short distance from each other leads to a surplus in difficulty on the braking systems because they do not have enough time to cool down sufficiently on the short straightaways. These variables are not easy to quantify for those with little experience on the subject. Yet, the Brembo technicians have studied the Formula 1 tracks and have interfaced with the main Teams for more than 40 years. From their expertise emerges a ranking that is slightly different from those that the numbers alone provide. The Brembo engineers that work in Formula 1 have assigned a score from 1 to 10 for each track, which indicates the effort required of the braking systems by the different tracks. Seven circuits fall into the highest category with scores that range from 8 for Monza and Sochi to 10 for Montreal and Abu Dhabi.
Most likely these last two will prove to be the most challenging in the 2016 season as well due to the presence of numerous braking sections with elevated energy and at short distances from each other. This makes them a very difficult test bench for all of the braking system components, which are under continuous stress from the high levels of energy and temperature. In the intermediate category (scores from 5 to 7), there are 10 tracks that offer a medium level of difficulty but are not to be underestimated. These include Monaco, Hungary and Melbourne (the brand new Formula 1 Baku track will probably be included here too).
It will be necessary to pay particular attention on these tracks to managing the temperatures during the race weekend in order to prevent the systems from overheating and vapour lock to occur. Lastly, the less challenging circuits will make it possible to count on very manageable tracks in the 2016 season, like Spa and Suzuka (score of 4), Interlagos and Silverstone (3). On these tracks, the wide curves are fast, which determine brakings that are not very challenging in general, but which can generate problems tied to excessive cooling and the so-called glazing of friction material.