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:

Formula 1 MotoGP
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:

Formula 1 MotoGP
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:

Formula 1 MotoGP
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.

Formula 1 MotoGP
4g Average deceleration 0.8g
5.7g Maximum deceleration
(Curve 12)
1.8g
  • Old MOron

    I can’t imagine what it’s like to have your brake marker 300 meters from the apex. I mean, it’s a brake marker like any other, but the temptation to vary the pressure at the levers as you try to out brake your opponents must be quite a siren song.

    • Mahatma

      I would imagine having a competitor at your side is quite a siren song for late braking;)

      • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

        You imagine correctly. You’ll learn more about late-braking in one weekend of club racing that you’d be likely to learn (and survive) in a lifetime on the street.

  • Old MOron
    • Alexander Pityuk

      Awesome link, thanks! Looks almost like a space leap in sci-fi movies :)

    • Mahatma

      That shot does not give due credit to the true kink of eue rouge corner!Nice illustration video though.Thanks for sharing.

    • ColoradoS14

      They are total monsters, damn things go plaid all the time…

  • john phyyt

    This is the most obvious area where MotoGP and subsequently street bikes could be improved. What the article fails to mention is mass ( weight) of respective vehicles.

    Car 1548 lbs: bike 350 lbs even including pilots; there is a whole lot less energy needed to brake a bike. There is a direct relationship between momentum and kinetic energy therefore need only one quarter to do the same job.

    • Zach

      No, they can’t, at least not by improving the brakes. It’s a geometry problem. See this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZTS7foJQf8 If Pedrosa’s brakes were stronger, he’d just endo.

      • ColoradoS14

        Yea have to agree with Zach on this one, as long as you can lock the wheel up, and trust me a MotoGP bike’s brakes can at any speed, there is not really a stopping distance improvement to be had. The massive contact patches, downforce, geometry, 4 tires maintaining full contact with the ground makes a car unbeatable in pretty much every area of performance. There is a video of David Coulthard in an F1 car vs Guy Martin on a BMW Superbike around Silverstone, they make the car complete 4 laps to the bike’s 3 and the F1 car still smokes the bike by something like 30 secs at the end. I know a MotoGP bike is faster but the result would probably be pretty similar.

      • john phyyt

        No argument. You point out the issue which could be summarised as “polar movement” around Centre of mass. Brakes themselves are plenty strong: I believe there may be improvements available by changing the layout of motorcycles . Jeremy Burgess pointed out that simply lowering COG can turn cycle into a skate . with locked wheels but no increase in retardation. Just as an aside try and out brake a Can-am spyder with your brembo equipped panigale.

  • Brian Clasby

    I’d like to see a similar contest between an exotic car or Corvette or whatever vs. a fast street bike, ZX-10R, R1 or whatever. I’m guessing it would be a closer match.

    • Wes Janzen

      A quick search turned up 2:22 for a Corvette (trackjunkies.org), though Wikipedia shows 2:17 for a McLaren P1. They don’t have a production motorcycle, though a MotoAmerica Superbike is relatively close, and it managed 2:10.

  • HeDidn’tWeDid

    F1 is fast…but MotoGP is beautiful to watch. We can slag our least favorite riders, but all of the MotoGP riders are athletes.