Formula 1 2016: the Belgian GP according to Brembo


 An in-depth look at Formula 1 brake use at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit

The Spa-Francorchamps circuit will host the 13th race of the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship from 26 to 28 August.

Immersed in the wooded hills of Ardennes, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit began hosting automotive races in 1920. At that time however, the races took place on a track measuring 14.1 km. The current track dates back to 1983, with the exception of a modification made to the Bus Stop chicane in 2007.

7.004 kilometres long, this is the longest circuit in the World Championship. In spite of two braking sections that require extremely high levels of energy, the track is remarkably light on the braking system because it is made up of wide, fast curves that demand little of the brakes and ensure excellent conditions for cooling the system.

However, when the weather conditions are unfavourable, something that is rather common in Ardennes, there can be problems linked to excessive cooling: during a race in 2014 the air temperature did not exceed 16 degrees.

According to Brembo technicians, who classified the 21 World Championship tracks on a scale of 1 to 10, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit is in the category of tracks that present very little difficulty for the brakes. The Belgian track earned a 4 on the difficulty index, which is the same score that Suzuka received and is higher than only Silverstone and Interlagos.


​Brake use during the GP

Notwithstanding its 7 km in length, the single-seaters apply the brakes only 9 times every lap, resulting in a percentage of time spent braking that totals only 13% of the overall duration of the race. The energy dissipated in braking is also contained: only 102 kWh, which is equivalent to the daily consumption of 23 hydro massage units.

Increasing the velocity at different points along the track, the few braking sections require a notable effort from the drivers who face an average deceleration of 4.1g. From the starting line to the chequered flag, each driver applies a total load of 50 tonnes on the pedal, which is the same weight as 7,700 musical instruments invented by Adolphe Sax, namely the saxophone.


Infografica Formula 1 GP Belgio 2016 Brembo  


The most challenging stops

Of the 9 braking sections on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, Brembo technicians have classified 5 as hard on the brakes, 2 as presenting mid-level difficulty and 2 as light. The most challenging over all is the Les Combes curve (turn 5) at the end of the Kemmel straightaway: in 2000 it was the stage of an incredible 3-man overtaking move involving Michael Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen and Riccardo Zonta. At this turn, the cars go from over 346 km/h to 136 km/h in 1.23 seconds travelling 118 metres, the same distance as 3,370 Bintje fries lined up one after another.

The cars and drivers are also required to make extra effort on the Bus Stop chicane (turn 18): the velocity drops from 331 km/h to 79 km/h in 138 metres by means of an applied load of 159 kg on the brake pedal. The average deceleration surpasses 5g on curve 12 as well.

But there is only a hint of braking at curve 19, which leads into the finish line. Here the single-seaters go from 92 to 73 km/h in 43 metres, which is less than the record jump performed during a World Rally race by Thierry Neuville.




Brembo Victories

Single-seaters with Brembo brakes have won 22 of the 39 Belgian GP races they have competed in. Ferrari won half of these, due in part to the 4 victories by Michael Schumacher, who took first place two other times with Benetton.