BRAKES ARE USED LITTLE DURING THE JAPANESE GP.
The Formula 1 moves in Asia for the Japanese GP, which is the 17th race in the 2018 World Championship scheduled for October 5-7 at the Suzuka International Racing Course. Formula 1 debuted on this track 31 years ago (in 2007 and 2008 the Circuit didn’t host any F1 GPs), but it was in 1962 that the Honda-owned circuit was inaugurated.
Located in the Mie Prefecture city of the same name, the Suzuka International Racing Course has modified its configuration four times, most recently in 2003.
That year it changed the layout of the 130R, corner which the drivers take at full throttle, and the chicane where the brakes are essential.
Like all tracks that are very drivable, Suzuka is full of fast corners that require almost insignificant use of the brakes.
On Turn 8, the brakes aren’t used at all (like on Dunlop) and on another five corners, the braking distance doesn’t exceed 35 yards.
There are just a couple of hard braking sections where the cars drop almost for 124 mph.
The victory could be up for grabs right at these points and to stay in the game, some drivers might extend beyond the braking limits and risk flying off the track.
According to Brembo technicians, who classified the 21 tracks in the World Championship, the Suzuka International Racing Course is one of the least demanding on the brakes.
The demand on the brakes during the GP:
The 18 corners on the track require drivers to use their brakes 10 times per lap, for a total of just over 13 seconds.
Braking on Turn 5 lasts less than one second. From the starting line to the checkered flag, each driver uses his brakes for a total of 11.5 minutes. The almost complete absence of thrilling braking sections means the average peak deceleration per lap is 3.3 G, the lowest in the championship. In Mexico City this figure is 3.4 G and in Shanghai it reaches 3.6 G.
The similarity of these three numbers may be misleading however, because the Mexican track is average on the brakes and the Chinese is less demanding on the difficulty index.
Since there are few corners that require heavy deceleration, the energy dissipated in braking by a single-seater over the course of the entire GP is fairly contained: 120 kWh, which is less than half that of the Singapore GP.
The load applied by each driver on the brake pedal throughout the race is also moderate: 40 metric tons and half, but this is still equivalent to more than three times the weight of all the Superbikes that competed in the last Suzuka 8 Hours.
The most demanding braking sections:
Of the 10 braking points at Suzuka International Racing Course, only one is classified as highly demanding on the brakes by Brembo technicians, but four are of medium difficulty and 5 are light.
The most challenging by far is Turn 16, where the cars go from 316 km/h to about 61 mph in just 142 yards. During the 2.72 seconds when the brakes are operating, the drivers apply a load of 236 pounds on the pedal and are subject to a peak deceleration of 4.4 G.
The load on the brake pedal is even heavier at the Degner Curve (Turn 9): 247 pounds, but braking happens in less space (74 yards) and less time (1.46seconds) because the single-seaters can take the corner going 95 mph and so they drop only 64.6 mph.
At the Hairpin (Turn 11), the gap in speed is back up to almost 124 mph (from 173 mph to 51 mph) thanks to the brakes being used for 2.59 seconds and the cars traveling about 129 yards.
However, there is less physical stress placed on the drivers: 3.7 G in deceleration and a 211.6 pounds load on the brake pedal.
Single-seaters with at least one Brembo component have won 20 of the 33 Japanese GP races that they took part in.
A good seven of these victories were earned by Ferrari, but in the first edition back in 1976 in Fuji, Ferrari lost the World Drivers’ Champion title that Niki Lauda seemed sure to win.
Ferrari hasn’t won at Suzuka since 2004, but Sebastian Vettel took the top podium four times on this track with Red Bull.
If he had one more victory to his name, he would match Michael Schumacher’s record of being the only driver to have won five times at Suzuka with Brembo brakes.
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