The first race of the 2023 Formula One calendar, which is made up of a record twenty-three events, was staged in Bahrain last week, on a very tricky circuit in terms of tire wear, due to the roughness of the asphalt and the fact that it has many areas of traction. But also from the point of view of the braking system. It is no coincidence that Brembo technicians classify the Bahrain International Circuit as a highly demanding circuit for the brakes, with a difficulty index of 4 (from 1 to 5). The hardest braking is in the first corner, after the long 1.1km straight. Here the single-seaters go from 323 to 80 km/h in just 124 metres, with a braking time of 2.79 seconds and a load of no less than 129 kg on the pedal.
Ferrari: the 2023 brake front disc is more powerful and has fewer holes
In the second year of the new Formula 1 regulations, the teams have optimized virtually all areas of their cars. When starting with a new project, associated with one of the most important changes in the history of Formula 1, more or less teams always take a certain margin of safety in designing new components. Many 2022 cars were so heavily overweight, while this season, although the minimum weight set by the regulations has remained the same due to the increase in tire weight and the introduction of additional electronic components (safety), there will no longer be much talk about extra weight. Also with regard to the braking systems there was a lot of optimization work, which mainly concerned the mass of the components, after last season their reliability was mainly evaluated. The result is that, on average, a 2023 braking system weighs between 300 and 400 grams less than in 2022.
However, it’s always a matter of compromise. Ferrari brought a new disc to the track in Bahrain, developed together with Brembo, an Italian company leader in braking components in the world, which has fewer holes than the 2022 specification. Due to an estimated average increase in braking torque of 5% more than in 2022, the Italian team has asked its supplier for a more robust disc but without losing too much in terms of cooling. The result was a disc with less than 1000 holes, arranged in a different way, used on the F1-75 and also on the Haas VF23, compared to the one with 1050 holes that Alfa Romeo is still using, speaking of Ferrari engines. The Maranello team then moved the brake caliper forward, as can be seen on the Haas VF23, while on the F1-75 it was still down but at the rear of the corner.
Red Bull and Aston Martin: the caliper is very advanced, with pins and fins to maximize cooling and lightness
As for Red Bull, the team that dominated the first round of the 2023 Formula One season, the most important work was done on the caliper, again developed together with Brembo, bearing in mind that the Anglo-Austrian team instead buys components from Carbon Industrie, just like Mercedes. The company from Bergamo, with its Racing headquarters in Curno (BG), supplies calipers to all the teams (McLaren is equipped by AP Racing which is part of the Brembo group) and is above all capable of developing customized solutions, as explained by Piergiuseppe Donadoni for formu1a.uno.
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It is important to remember that brake system components are Open Source Components (OSC), a designation that went into effect last season and which applies to those components whose design and intellectual property are made available to all teams. How? The teams must upload the design specifications and any subsequent modifications to an FIA server which can only be accessed by the teams. Competitors also have an obligation to share information on any problems that arise and interestingly, OSC components can also be ‘sold’ from one competitor to another, effectively making them a form of TRC (Transferable Components) component. It is no coincidence that Haas, for example, uses the same calipers as Ferrari and also the 990 hole discs which have a completely different structure from the previous specification as previously explained.