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Montreal.... In brakes we trust

NEWS STORY
07/06/2017

Few circuits on the calendar test the stopping power of a Formula One car quite like Montreal. Drivers spend 60% of the fast, semi-permanent, street-style lap at full throttle, before hammering the anchors into the several heavy braking zones - making Montreal one of the highest energy circuits for brakes on the entire calendar.

With its near perfect blend of high-speed straights broken up by tight corners, drivers hit an average pedal load per lap in excess of 750kg at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. That's 52,500kg pedal load on average over a 70 lap race, with a peak of over 120kg as they stamp on the brakes into Turn 13.

This braking effect is amplified by the high-speed nature of the circuit, as teams run their cars in a low-drag guise in Montreal. Teams chase high speeds down those long straights, meaning cars are braking from an even greater velocity with less aerodynamic drag to help slow them down under braking. This scenario is even worse when a tail wind picks up along the two main straights, increasing outright top speeds to over (203 mph (327km/h).

Montreal features seven heavy braking zones, with Turn 13 - the sharp-flick right through the chicane which opens up into the run along the infamous Wall of Champions - the most severe. The drivers approach that final chicane at a top speed of 198 mph (320km/h), before planting their foot on the left-pedal and slowing to 87 mph (140km/h) in just 90metres.

Under braking for the slowest part of the track - the Turn 10 hairpin - drivers go from 186 mph (300km/h) to 40 mph (65km/h) in around 120m. Drivers experienced an average deceleration of 4.3G in 2016. But with the introduction of extra downforce and wider tyres in 2017, we can expect to see decelerations of over 5G - an incredible figure.

These stops come thick and fast in Montreal. 19% of the lap is spent on the brakes - and it's this frequency, not just the intensity of the circuit's many braking zones, that puts extra pressure on teams to manage the huge amount of energy created.

This energy - 149 kWh dissipated per race - is turned into heat, with modern F1 brake discs reaching 1,000 degrees Celsius in a single braking zone. This immense heat also has a knock-on effect on tyres, brake calipers and sensors. Temperatures have to be controlled and you'll often see drivers darting out of the slipstream to cool their brakes before hitting another heavy braking zone, or deploying the famed 'lift and coast tactic' at certain points in the race.

Managing temperature in Montreal is absolutely crucial in traffic - and often simply in terms of ambient temperature on a warm weekend - because if a driver overheats his brakes, wear will become excessively high, costing valuable performance. It's a 70 lap battle to manage temperatures. But, as we see almost every year, it's not a battle everyone will manage to come out on top of.

To combat these unique challenges teams make special preparations, carrying out a series of simulations before heading to Canada to understand the exact brake energies involved and to ensure that there is sufficient cooling available on the car, as well as packing the thickest discs and pads possible for the weekend.

Whatever the result of Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal will be sure to give the drivers' left feet one heck of a workout...

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by nonickname, 07/06/2017 12:13

"All very interesting but really this is slow motion. At Mugello Aandrea Dovizio braked from 361 kmph to 85 kmph on a tiny front slick lap after lap....with no seat belts huge slicks blablabla."

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2. Posted by Editor, 07/06/2017 10:16

"@ FormerF1Fan

It's a piece put together by Mercedes, therefore you might be better advised questioning its "sober" and "non-sensational reporting""

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3. Posted by FormerF1Fan, 07/06/2017 10:06

"I usually associate Pitpass with sober, non-sensational reporting. Thats one of the reasons I choose to read it rather than others. So how on earth did "149 kWh dissipated per race" and "52,500kg pedal load on average" manage to get in there? Totally meaningless. So it makes me wonder about how much other stuff is meaningless."

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4. Posted by hussainahm, 07/06/2017 9:25

"The ultimate test for Haas!"

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