Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

How top teams adapted to Canada’s braking headache

The Canadian Grand Prix is one of the toughest of the season for brakes, with almost one quarter of the circuit spent slowing the cars down.

F1 brake supplier Brembo classifies Turns 6, 8, 10 and 13 as ‘hard’ braking events, with turn 13 posing one of the biggest decelerations with cars slowing from 320 km/h to 150 km/h in around 50 metres.

Every year, as teams push ever closer to the cooling limits, the challenge for engineers gets increasingly hard – and this time around was no exception as teams adopted different approaches.

The extra difficulty comes from the fact that in recent years the brake duct and drum designs have become increasingly more complex, as teams try to balance the needs of brake cooling with closed channel effects that improve aerodynamic performance.

Here we look at how top teams had different approaches to the weekend.

Ferrari SF71H front brake duct, captioned
Ferrari SF71H front brake duct, captioned

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

This year Ferrari continued the recent trend of proportioning some of the brake duct’s design to power a blown axle, improving the aerodynamic footprint around the wheel rim and tyre.

However, this doesn’t mean that brake cooling is compromised, with the designers carefully attributing cooled airflow to the brake discs and calipers.

The brake drum also features numerous apertures from which heat being generated by the brakes can be released.

All of this hot air is carefully placed in order to maximise how the heat is rejected in order that it also interacts with the wheel rim and consequently the tyre in the most effective manner too.

Mercedes W09 front brake drum comparison, Canadian GP
Mercedes W09 front brake drum comparison, Canadian GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Mercedes had a more tame solution in comparison, disregarding the blown axle and instead focusing its efforts on minimising the brake duct’s aerodynamic footprint. As the above image shows, its design features a much smaller inlet scoop.

Like Ferrari, the Mercedes concept rejects heat generated under braking through windows in the brake drum, but for Canada it reduced the number of openings (see inset).

Renault R.S.18 front brake drum choices
Renault R.S.18 front brake drum choices

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Each team comes up with its own solutions based on individual requirements and the prevailing conditions, which often leads to teams trialling various solutions during free practice sessions to see what suits each driver's needs.

As we can see in this example of Renault’s front brake assembly, the team’s decision is driven by both mechanical and aerodynamic decisions.

The open basket arrangement on the left allows more heat to escape through the wheel face, whereas the solution on the right controls how that airflow escapes and is transmitted to the tyre via the wheel rim.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Canadian GP
Track Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve
Teams Renault F1 Team , Mercedes , Ferrari
Article type Analysis
Topic Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis