Deutschland über alles. In the last quarter of a century, Germany is the nation that has won the most Formula 1 Grand Prix. From 1990 to today, the German drivers have won a total of 156 races, while Great Britain garnered 116 victories and Brazil 56.
The credit goes mostly to Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, who won 91 and 42 Grand Prix respectively, each time with Brembo brakes. Anyone who thinks this is a mere coincidence is making a big mistake.
Besides extremely refined driving talent and a cool headedness that makes errors on the track a rare occurrence, both Schumacher and Vettel stand out for their ability to evaluate the behaviour of the different components of their cars, including the various sets of brakes. We could almost call them deputy engineers that make the Technical Directors’ jobs easier by leading them in technical choices and as a result, in the development of the vehicle.
According to our Brembo technicians who backed him up ever since the days of Benetton and then with Ferrari, Michael Schumacher is considered the most mentally organized driver of all time. He expected the Brembo braking system to perform as well as he did and to function constantly and unfailingly for the entire length of the GP.
These same considerations apply to Vettel too, according to reports by the Brembo technicians who have been with him from Toro Rosso up to Ferrari, right through the four world championships with Red Bull. They say that Vettel is a “baby Schumi” because he makes significant contributions to the development of the vehicle. He also has an innate ability to pick up subtle differences in friction materials - in today’s Formula 1, he is the only driver that can distinguish between one carbon set and another, even though they offer minimal differences in performance.
The technicians from Brembo, which celebrated its 40th anniversary with F1 in 2015, point out that Schumacher and Vettel also share a preference for a very short and reactive motion on the brake pedal. Neither one has a big body mass, yet both are known for their ability to apply heavy force to the brakes.
Schumacher and Vettel also share the same approach to the performance of the braking system during qualification runs: going into the last qualification lap, the one that counts, they have the car equipped with a new set of Brembo brakes, which ensures greater friction to dig a groove with rivals. It’s not by chance that Schumacher, with Brembo brakes, earned 68 pole positions in his career, while Vettel has already achieved 46.
Obviously, the technical specifications of the braking systems are different because Brembo research never lets up. In 2006, the year of Michael Schumacher’s last GP victory, the brake discs had 100 ventilation holes - that number now exceeds 1,200 and the current size is much more contained than that of its ancestors. The material used on the brake pads is also more evolved, but we’ll talk about this at another time.