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Exploring the science behind the braking system of Formula 1 Cars

Formula 1 (F1) cars rely heavily on their braking systems for performance and safety. In this article, learn about how Formula 1 braking systems work?

Utsav Chaudhary
Last updated: 29.02.2024
Formula 1 Brakes explained

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Every moving object needs to rest at a certain place, space, or time. The same principle goes with the modern Formula 1 cars. Through generations, Formula 1 has undergone various changes in the realm of innovation and technology. Whether considering the design, engine, or safety features every aspect of F1 cars is taken under inspection to win the race. However, braking is one of the crucial factors that decide the winning result of the race.

 

Braking is just as tactical a pace as it seems but acts as a necessity for any car. But in motorsport racing brakes play an important factor. From the beginning of the race to the end, its functions navigate the perfect win-or-lose chance created by any driver when getting behind the wheel. It is one of the first factor elements of Formula 1 racing. During the apex, or a curve the braking system comes into action and slows down a high-paced F1 car within seconds to conquer. Let us read further about how the braking system works in modern-day F1 cars and how it evolved during racing.

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The Working Of F1 Braking System

 

Just similar to normal road cars, the brakes of the Formula 1 cars act as if they were hinged on the four wheels. And the principle is to stop a moving car just like the other. So what makes it different is the amount of force they exert when taking actions. If a high-paced F1 car doesn't brake at the right time and with the right pressure on the brake pedal then it will affect the overall performance of the car. See let me be clear, during the race entering and exiting the corner plays a crucial role and if you have no idea of it then you may be left behind before the actual race ever starts.

 

When an F1 driver pedals upon the brake, it gets compressed with actions induced by two master brake cylinders. These two brake cylinders are allocated one for the front wheels and the other for the rear wheels. After exerting pressure they generate fluid pressure which ultimately makes the progression of braking smooth and comfortable.


Formula 1 Brakes diagram. Source: Motorsport Technology
Formula 1 Brakes diagram. Source: Motorsport Technology


Both front and rear brakes seem similar but they act differently. When the driver is ready to apply the brakes to the front wheels, then the braking system is very aligned. During the process, the fluid pressure from the brake cylinder is directly confronted with the front brake calipers, and inside each caliper six positioned pistons are muffled against the disc, and because of the friction, the car slows down. F1 disc brakes are similar to normal road cars with an aluminum rotating disc hydraulically pressed by brake pads. To stop an F1 car at high speed during high turns, the brake system plays a major role but what becomes more important is the driver’s skill. Braking the car at the perfect corner results from perfect lap timing and that's where the real test skills of a racing driver come into play.

 

The braking system at the rear is much more complex than it seems in the front. So, let us understand it. See braking at the rear affects three factors- the first is the friction from the brakes obviously, and the second is the altered resistance exerted by the engine. This engine resistance is termed Engine Braking as per the FIA Technical rulebook. When a driver presses the brake pedal the fluid pressure rolls out in the rear brake circuit, and then with the help of relays of electronic pressure sensors through the steering wheel, the driver executes the commands from the ECU, and thus the rear brakes slows down the car at very instant.

 

Hope, now you get to know the simple workings of the braking system. So let's move with the third factor. The third factor is a more complex and technical aspect. As it involved the electrical braking generated by the hybrid electric motor. It features all the sensors that revolve around the rear brake system. When the driver pushes the brake pedals with high intensity, the more the signals pass through the ECU and send out the commands to the hybrid electric motor for braking which in return converts all the lost energy from braking into recovery mode with the help of MGU-K also known as the Motor Generator Unit-Kinetic.

 

When compared to the front, the rear braking system seems more complex and technically baptized. Such complex performance brakes require complex material and that’s where the Brake By Wire System comes into action.

 

The Phenomenon Of Using Brake By Wire System In F1 Brakes

 

The brake By Wire System or the BBW is one of the modern and more advanced electronic technology brakes used in F1 cars. They are practically designed for the rear brakes hinged to the rear side of the car. This type of braking system enables the promotion of more efficient brake stability. With front brakes that use hydraulics to stop the car, the rear ones are more enhanced and enable energy recovery loss during the braking phase.

 

Well, such powerful brakes lose heat and a lot of energy. Even the brakes are meant to be cooled down to make it progressive through the next stage of racing. If you want to know more follow us for more and get to know more interesting topics of F1.

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