Will slicks put brakes under more stress?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

A tougher time for brakes in 2009?
A tougher time for brakes in 2009?

One aspect of the 2009 rules I’m trying to get my ahead is how the return to slick tyres and the introduction of KERS might affect brakes.

If my shaky grasp if F1 technology is right, I reckon brakes will have a seriously hard time in 2009. Check my working below.

Slicks means greater peak braking effort

Grooves are gone and tyres are staying the same size. That means each F1 car will have a significant percentage more rubber on the ground, which will allow them to grip better and corner faster.

This suggests to me that when a driver hits the brake pedal he’ll be able to generate greater braking force than he could in 2008. Therefore, the brakes will be under greater stress. And with the technical regulations not allowing for an increase in brake size, drivers will have to take greater care of their discs.

But here’s the bit I’m not sure about: will the accompanying reduction in downforce this year reduce the demand on the brakes by the same amount? I need someone with a technical mind to put me straight on that one.

Top tracks for braking

According to BMW, this is how the circuits rank for brake wear – and the ones at the top of the list could pose the biggest problems for drivers:

Singapore – very high
Monte-Carlo – high
Nurburgring – high
Albert Park Melbourne – high
Bahrain International Circuit – high
Hungaroring – high
Monza – high
Suzuka – high
Shanghai International Circuit – medium
Circuito Urbano Valencia – medium
Silverstone – low
Sepang International Circuit – low
Circuit de Catalunya – low
Istanbul – low
Spa-Francorchamps – low
Interlagos – low

What about KERS?

An added complication from the point of view of braking is how KERS could affect it.

F1’s Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems are designed to work by extracting energy from braking effort – but will it have any effect on braking performance? How is the energy transmitted from the brakes to the KERS?

Share your thoughts on brakes below…