The Chinese GP according to Brembo


 An in-depth look at Formula 1 brake use on the Shanghai circuit

The Shanghai International Circuit will host the 3rd race of the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship season from 15 to 17 April. The track, created by architects Hermann Tilke and Peter Wahl, is designed along the lines of the Chinese Shang character. A straightaway measuring 1,397 metres has the single-seaters going full throttle for 56 percent of each lap, while the five second-gear curves require a high aerodynamic downforce.


The kit on the single-seaters falls therefore half-way between the two extreme cases, favouring braking action so that the aerodynamic resistance facilitates deceleration. According to Brembo technicians, who classified the 21 World Championship tracks on a scale of 1 to 10, the Shanghai International Circuit is in the category of circuits that present mid-level difficulty for the brakes.


The Shanghai track earned a score of 6 on the difficulty index, which is identical to what the Barcelona track and the new track in Mexico City scored.


Brake use during the GP


The time spent braking, 18% of the overall duration of the race, is the lowest amongst the first seven races in the 2016 championship. The average deceleration is 3.4 g, which is lower than 15 percent of the values for the races contended in Australia and Bahrain.


As for energy dissipated in braking, the Shanghai International Circuit slides into the third last position amongst the World Championship circuits: during a race, a car dissipates an average of about 97 kWh in energy while braking, a figure that is equivalent to the amount of electric energy a Tanzanian resident consumes in a year. Furthermore, throughout the race each driver has to brake approximately 450 times, applying a total force on the pedal that surpasses 51 tonnes, or 10 times the weight of an average-sized elephant.




The most challenging stops   

Of the eight braking sections on the Shanghai International Circuit, two are classified as hard on the brakes, four are of medium difficulty and two are light. The most challenging braking section, meaning it nearly reaches 5 g, is curve 14 where the drivers arrive at more than 330 km/h, so they have to apply a load of 183 kg on the pedal in order to go down to 61 km/h in just 1.74 seconds.


In terms of g, the first curve (4.6 g) doesn't mess around either, but the speed is reduced only by half: from 320 to 158 km/h. The four braking sections of medium difficulty still demand a downforce on the pedal measuring between 104 and 132 kg; not a stroll in the park. The least challenging braking section is the hairpin turn at curve 3, where the cars arrive at just over 120 km/h and the drivers only have to brake for 20 metres to set the curve.




Brembo Victories

In China, Brembo has won 8 out of 12 races contended up to today, including the last four, three of which were with Mercedes. Ferrari however, boasts four victories. In China, Sebastian Vettel won his first race with Red Bull in 2009.