Video: Bench Testing Formula 1 Carbon-Carbon Brakes

Comparing a road car to a Formula 1 racer is in most cases the equivalent of comparing an apple and apple-shaped hunk of granite. They’re just completely different machines that happen share a similar layout, and even then only in the vaguest sense. But there is at least one area of Formula 1 cars that are mechanically similar to your Ford Fiesta, and that’d be the massive but mostly-simple braking systems. Sure, the brakes are bigger, and they’re made from the finest materials allowable, but the basic premise of a caliper, rotor, and brake pads all remains the same.

That’s not to say there aren’t some major differences, especially in the material of the brake pad and rotor. But watching this bench test of a Brembo carbon-carbon (yes, carbon-carbon) braking system, it looks similar to what your Fiesta uses to stop.

However, Formula 1 racers have a minimum weight of just 691 kgs/1,523 lbs, quite a bit less than the Fiesta due to extensive use of carbon and carbon fiber. This includes the brakes, which uses a pure form of carbon that weighs about half what a standard brake pad of the same size otherwise would. The rotor is also made from carbon, and combined with the carbon brake pad it has about double the coefficient of friction compared to conventional brakes, essentially meaning twice the stopping power.

Formula 1 racers are also much, much faster than Fiestas though, and while this bench test doesn’t specify what speeds are being simulated, we’re betting it’s well over the 100 MPH mark judging solely by how quickly the rotor glows orange with heat. Just as quickly though, the heat dissipates, just in time for the next simulated turn. Hot brakes don’t work nearly as well, after all, and going fast is just half of the racing game. The other half would be stopping, obviously, and for all the money and technology that goes into Formula 1, the basic premise remains the same as its been for the past 100 years or so.

Just fancier.

About the author

Chris Demorro

Christopher DeMorro is a freelance writer and journalist from Connecticut with two passions in life; writing and anything with an engine.
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