Brembo Analyzes F1 Versus MotoGP Brakes At COTA

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan

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 1MotoGP
0.9 secondsCurve 9 braking time2.2 seconds
1.5 secondsCurve 11 braking time4.6 seconds
1.4 secondsCurve 12 braking time5.9 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 1MotoGP
73 km/h (45 mph)Curve 1 entrance speed60 km/h (37 mph)
169 km/h (105 mph)Curve 19 entrance speed115 km/h (71 mph)
95 km/h (59 mph)Curve 20 entrance speed75 km/h (47 mph)

Obviously, even bike braking distances are longer at Austin:

Formula 1MotoGP
126 metres (138 yards)Curve 1 braking distance206 metres (225 yards)
128 metres (140 yards)Curve 12 braking distance300 metres (328 yards)
70 metres (77 yards)Curve 19 braking distance115 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 1MotoGP
4gAverage deceleration0.8g
5.7gMaximum deceleration
(Curve 12)
Troy Siahaan
Troy Siahaan

Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.

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  • Brian Clasby Brian Clasby on Apr 12, 2016

    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 Wes Janzen on Apr 13, 2016

      A quick search turned up 2:22 for a Corvette (, 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 HeDidn'tWeDid on Apr 13, 2016

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