F1 science of braking is key today

2012-07-21 15:41

German Grand Prix at challenging Hockenheim circuit marks the halfway point of this season’s World Championship.

Today’s Formula 1 German Grand Prix is the 10th and marks the halfway point of this season’s World Championship.

The race is at Hockenheim, a circuit described by most drivers as fun with a few challenging corners and good for overtaking.

The German Grand Prix now switches between Nürburgring and Hockenheimring each season,and Team McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton won the Nürburgring crown last season.

The most challenging corner at Hockenheimring is Turn 1, which is taken at speeds well above 200km/h. What makes it even worse is the tricky curb on the exit of the turn.

If a driver gets the braking wrong, it’s easy for the car to run wide, which in turn creates an opportunity for it to be overtaken.

Given that slowing down or breaking will play a big role today, it is imperative for teams to work the science of braking.

Formula 1 race cars are somewhat similar to any car on the road when it comes to slowing down because of the anti-lock braking system (ABS) technology.

This technology prevents cars from skidding when harsh brakes are applied, however, the ABS anti-skid systems have been banned from Formula 1 racing.

The principle of braking is simply to slow a car by removing kinetic energy from it.

In the same way, too much braking can cause wheels to lock as the brakes overpower the available levels of grip from the tyre.

Formula 1 brakes are remarkably efficient in combination with the modern and advanced tyre compounds.

In fact, the two working together reduce the braking distances, which means cars can slow down quicker from very high speeds.

The tyres on offer for the Hockenheim circuit are the medium and the soft compounds.

This is in anticipation of a sunny day, which will also be good for the race fans following a miserable, rainy weekend at Silverstone – the British Grand Prix.

This time around, teams will be looking forward to exploring more of the potential of their upgrades, which they introduced in Silverstone two weeks ago but were unable to collect enough information due to bad weather.

The new Hockenheim circuit is quite different – slower with a high downforce track, shorter and not too complicated – to the old one.

Some drivers say it’s more exciting while others still prefer the old one, which was quick because of the flat track.

Hockenheim is the first of two back-to-back races that will bring the curtain down on the first half of the season at the end of this month.

This means that no Formula 1 race team is allowed to work on cars – mechanical and technical – at the circuit or in the factory.

Finland-born driver Heikki Kovalainen of Caterham F1 will today celebrate his 100th Grand Prix. Hamilton – coming off the back of a couple of disappointing weekends – will also be racing in his 100th Grand Prix.

Today will also be the turn of the German crowd to support their homeboys – Sebastian Vettel of Team Red Bull, Nico Hulkenberg (Force India), Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher (both Mercedes) – just as was the case two weeks ago with the English drivers – McLaren team-mates Hamilton and Jenson Button, and Paul di Resta of Force India.

The objective for most of the teams in today’s Grand Prix should be to maintain their competitiveness and their cars’ reliability so that when the second half of the season begins, they will have little to work on but just sustainability.

»Follow me on Twitter: @zwelethunondumo

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