Formula 1 braking discs are constantly evolving, and because of the faster and heavier cars, it is increasingly difficult to slow down the car while maintaining the temperature in the optimum window – one of the ways of increasing thermal conductivity is to increase the number of ventilation channels in the brake disc.
F1 cars this year weigh 5 kg more and now have 733 kg. Thanks to the softer tyres and the natural development of the car, it is expected that cars will be about two seconds per lap faster than the already fast 2017 F1 cars.
This will put additional pressure on the F1 car brake system. In order for brake system manufacturers to successfully deal with this problem, they have been using drilled disks for years, with a number of holes growing steadily.
Brembo has discovered that their F1 discs in 2018 will have up to 1500 ventilation holes or channels (see picture below), which is about 100 channels more than in 2017.
The maximum disc thickness was increased in 2017 from 28 to 32 mm, and most of the teams will use this year’s maximum thick front discs while on the rear wheels are often used 28 mm thick discs.
The rear brakes do not have to withstand so much braking energy because the dynamic weight is transfered on the front wheels but also because since 2014, F1 car has a complex ERS system that brakes the rear axle in co-operation with the Brake by Wire system when braking, so the rear brakes are less burdened.
Depending on the temperatures expected on a particular weekend and the configuration of a particular track, drivers will be able to choose between three different Brembo disc options with approximately 900, 1200 and 1500 holes.
The brake system according to the rules may have up to six pistons, which are commonly used on the front brakes, and on the rear are often used four pistons for the above mentioned reasons.
Each team defines the specific requirements for the pistons in terms of compromise between weight and strength. Some teams prefer lighter but also less rigid clips as some opt for a more conservative option of more robust but heavier calipers.