Breaking down differences: F1 vs. LMP1 brake systems

This past weekend launched the 86th annual 24 Hours Le Mans. The event, designed to test and showcase the endurance of participating vehicles, is regularly run in France and marks the second round of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile World Endurance Championship. The race this year was won by the No. 8 Toyota from Toyota Gazoo Racing. According to ESPN, this is the first time a vehicle manufactured by Toyota took home the gold.

Part of the main purpose of the 24 Hours Le Mans is to test the latest in breaking and control technology. Cars must be driven for 24 hours straight in a high-stress situation while still performing at peak levels of efficiency. Any failure can and has lead to vehicle collisions and crashes.

So it is no surprise that the brakes designed for an event like the 24 Hours Le Mans are wildly different than those used in F1 racing, a sport that is as much about speed but over a far shorter duration. Examining how these braking systems are differently designed can provide automobile manufacturers insight into how to equip their own vehicles. When it comes to creating these crucial parts, developers spend a good deal of time understanding exactly how the brakes will be used and the challenges they will need to meet and overcome.

Formula 1 braking systems
F1 racing cars are designed for speed. During a race, these vehicles can shift from an incredible 218 mph down to only 43 mph in a span of seconds. Since energy cannot be destroyed but must be converted, this is a lot of speed being changed into heat in a very short time. According to F1 Technical, it is not uncommon for the brake rotors and pads to regularly reach temperatures of 1000 degrees Celsius.

To help prevent the discs in the brake system from overheating, F1 designers utilize a built-in ventilation system to keep the part cool. Brembo disc brakes are actually designed with more than 1,400 ventilation holes, according to The Drive. Given the speeds the vehicles are going, keeping F1 braking systems cool is a top priority for this vehicle design, as well as any other automobile built for short, quick bursts of driving.

F1 brake systems must be light and able to take the heat. F1 brake systems must be light and able to take the heat.

LMP1 braking systems
LMP1 braking systems, by contrast, are developed for lasting performance. These are what vehicle manufacturers use for races like the 24 Hours Le Mans. Unlike F1 cars, LMP1 brakes are actually designed to maintain a consistent temperature when heated. This is because the race lasts into the night, when external track temperatures have cooled significantly. Were the brakes to shift in temperature accordingly, the chances of a malfunction would increase.

Unsurprisingly, Brembo LMP1 disc brakes have only 430 ventilation holes. However, they are significantly larger than their F1 counterparts (370 mm in diameter vs. 278 mm). Why? An LMP1 car tends to be larger and heavier than an F1 vehicle, again reflecting the nature of a short sprint versus an enduring race to the finish.

Examining these designs can be helpful for brake manufacturers looking to design products appropriate to their intended vehicles. Not every automobile has the same expectations and brakes must be constructed accordingly.

When manufacturers begin designing a new braking system, testing is an essential step in getting it ready for production. To navigate the complex world of safe component manufacturing, companies can request a complimentary brake testing consultation from Greening.