As the pinnacles of technology and performance in their respective fields, you can’t get any more advanced than MotoGP and Formula 1 in the motorcycle and automotive worlds, respectively. And when pitted against each other, a Formula 1 car will smoke a MotoGP machine. Interestingly, there are only two circuits that play host to both series – the Sepang circuit in Malaysia and the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Information provided by Brembo – brake provider for both MotoGP and Formula 1 – gives us some interesting insights into the dynamics at play during a lap of COTA for both machines.
First, the lap times. In 2015, Nico Rosberg set a fast lap time of the Austin track at 1:40.666. Meanwhile, Andrea Iannone’s fast lap last year was 2:04.251 – a difference of over 20 seconds! Despite the lap time difference, Hiroshi Aoyama was the fastest through the speed trap at 207.6 mph, versus Rosberg’s 206.5 mph.
So how do you account for the massive time difference? There are many factors. Four huge contact patches on the car, aided by monumental downforce from the bodywork, compared to two tiny contact patches on the motorcycle and no aerodynamic downforce play a major factor. But since Brembo is a brake company, let’s look specifically at the aspects of slowing each vehicle down.
Take a look at Brembo’s data below for three specific turns at COTA and the massive difference in time it takes for each vehicle to slow for them:
|0.9 seconds||Curve 9 braking time||2.2 seconds|
|1.5 seconds||Curve 11 braking time||4.6 seconds|
|1.4 seconds||Curve 12 braking time||5.9 seconds|
Less stopping time (combined with mechanical grip provided by the increased contact patches and downforce) means an F1 car is carrying more speed through each corner as well:
|73 km/h (45 mph)||Curve 1 entrance speed||60 km/h (37 mph)|
|169 km/h (105 mph)||Curve 19 entrance speed||115 km/h (71 mph)|
|95 km/h (59 mph)||Curve 20 entrance speed||75 km/h (47 mph)|
Obviously, even bike braking distances are longer at Austin:
|126 metres (138 yards)||Curve 1 braking distance||206 metres (225 yards)|
|128 metres (140 yards)||Curve 12 braking distance||300 metres (328 yards)|
|70 metres (77 yards)||Curve 19 braking distance||115 metres (126 yards)|
Not surprisingly, according to the Brembo engineers that assist the competitions in the field, Austin MotoGP riders spend 23 percent of the race braking while F1 drivers only 18 percent. A difference that determines significantly different lap times.
The explanation is rather simple: the Formula 1 vehicles can immediately discharge the entire braking torque to the ground as they do not have issues with balance while MotoGP riders are required to dose the force as the risk of flipping over a two-wheel vehicle is high.
In addition, the single-seaters have a ground footprint of the four treads that is well over four times that of a MotoGP bike: naturally, the greater the footprint, the greater the opportunity to discharge the braking torque to the ground.
This is why the decelerations that the riders and drivers face are in line with the characteristics of the vehicles that they command.