Formula 1 returns to the heart of Europe for the ninth event of the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship this weekend, July 7-9. The theater for the Austrian GP is the Red Bull Ring, inaugurated in May 2011 and situated near Spielberg.
Although being more or less the same length as the Budapest and Montreal circuits (all 2.6-miles) the Austrian circuit is the only one on the schedule where a lap takes less than 70 seconds. Last year, Lewis Hamilton took pole position with his Mercedes in only 1:07.922. This year’s pole, set Saturday by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, was a blisteing 1:04.251.
This is thanks to the high speeds achieved but also to the small number of bends, only three of which require the use of brakes for more than one second. The many undulations of the track complicate the drivers’ choice of timing braking: from the highest to the lowest point there is a 213 feet difference in level.
According to Brembo technicians, who have classified the 20 World Championship tracks on a scale from 1 to 10, the Red Bull Ring can be considered one of the most demanding tracks for brakes. The Austrian track has been given a difficulty index of 8, equal to the one assigned to Monza, Melbourne and in the two circuits in the former USSR.
The demand on the brakes during the GP
During each lap brakes are used seven times, for less than nine and a half seconds in total, four-tenths more than on the Monza track. From start to the checkered flag, braked are in action for a total of 11-minutes, equal to 15 percent of the whole race.
Brakes are used even less in the second half of the track, from the Rauch curve onwards: if in fact in the first half drivers use the brakes for six-and-a-half seconds, in the second part they use them for less than three seconds.
The maximum deceleration is also affected by this variation: from an average of 4.7 g in the first section to 3.9 g in the next. Consequently the average track deceleration is 4.2 g, the same as for Barcelona.
The energy dissipated during braking in the whole GP from each single-seater is quite limited: 166 kWh, equal to the energy needed to operate around 55 mechanical bulls.
During the whole race, a driver uses his brakes a little less than 500 times, exerting a total load of 68 tons on the brake pedal, that is over three times the weight of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart CDs sold worldwide in 2016.
The most demanding braking sections
Of the seven Red Bull Ring braking points three are classified as hard on the brakes, two are of medium difficulty and two light.
The most challenging for the braking system is the Remus bend (Turn 3). The single-seaters approach at 191 mph and in only 2.4 seconds they decrease to 47 mph. To manage this, drivers must exert a pressure of 354 lb.sf. on the braking pedals, and decelerate by 4.7 g. With the brake pressed the vehicles travel for 215 ft. almost two thirds the length of Salzburg Cathedral.
Drivers are subjected to a 4.7 g deceleration also on the Castrol bends (Turn 1) and Schlossgold bend (Turn 4) thanks to the 198 mph that they reach on the preceding straights. For both however, the entrance speed on the bend is superior to the Remus bend: in the first one the single-seaters enter the bend at 85 mph and in the fourth one at 66 mph. This last one requires the use of brakes for 2.32 seconds and pedal load of “only” 350.5 lbs., whereas for the other one only 1.77 seconds are needed, but with a 361.5 lbs. load.
Single-seaters with Brembo brakes have won all the last five Austrian GPs. This is one of the few tracks in the world where Sebastian Vettel has not yet triumphed.