Motorcycle Maintenance

Formula 1 Versus MotoGP: Who Wins When Braking?

Part of Brembo’s media information for last weekend’s Grand Prix of the Americas MotoGP event at Circuit of the Americas in Texas was an interesting comparison of the braking characteristics for MotoGP and Formula 1 machines. CotA in Austin is one of two tracks that the two series share, and Brembo compared data from the top MotoGP bikes from 2015 with the top Formula 1 cars in the same corners, at the same circuit.

Brembo’s press information follows:

DETROIT, (Apr. 10, 2016) – MotoGP or Formula 1: Which vehicle is faster? Which has better braking? The Austin circuit is the testing ground to help answer the question on the minds of every enthusiast.

The Texas track is only one of two (the other being Sepang) to host a competition for the two- and four-wheel World Racing Championships at the same circuit (3.427 miles / 5.513 kilometers).

MotoGP will take to the Circuit of The Americas this weekend while Formula 1 will race October 23, of this year.

Backed by its experience as supplier of the leading teams of the two, Brembo is able to provide some extremely interesting information.

2016 MotoGP Circuit of the Americas - Andrea Iannone

Courtesy of Ducati

Andrea Iannone of the Ducati Desmosedici GP in action at Circuit of the Americas during this year’s MotoGP event, where he finished third.

Below are the technical specifications of the two prototypes:

Formula 1 MotoGP

702 kg (1547 lbs) driver included
157 kg (346 lbs) rider excluded

Turbo 1600 cc
Aspirated 1000 cc

13 inches
17 inches

Front tires width
245 mm
125 mm

Rear tires width
325 mm
190 mm

278 mm
340 mm

Excluding the drivers or riders, a Formula 1 vehicle weighs four times more than a MotoGP bike and boasts a much more powerful engine (also for the presence of electric motors). The tires are a whole different story: in comparison with a bike, Formula 1 single-seaters have more tires (four instead of two) and a more generous tread. Furthermore, aside from tread width, the biggest difference between F1 and MotoGP is on the ground contact, meaning the contact surface of the tire with the asphalt is extremely different due to the make of car and bike tires. While in F1 the width of the tire coincides with the footprint on the ground, in MotoGP this is only a fraction of the total tread width.

Nico Rosberg Circuit of the Americas 2015

Courtesy of Mercedes AMG Petronas

Nico Rosberg at last year’s Formula 1 race at Circuit of the Americas in the Mercedes AMG Petronas.

Let’s compare their performance over a lap at the Austin circuit in 2015:

Formula 1 MotoGP

Best lap time
1:40.666 Rosberg
2:04.251 Iannone

Quickest racing speed
332.3 km/h (206.5 mph) Rosberg
344.2 km/h (213.8 mph*) Aoyama

  • Conversion corrected from original Brembo information

Comparing the best lap during the 2015 competition obtained respectively by Rosberg and Iannone the gap between Formula 1 and MotoGP is somewhere around 20 seconds.

Maximum speeds place MotoGP ahead of Formula 1.

The limits of MotoGP are essentially two:
The time required to reduce speed when facing a curve
Speed while in a curve

Both are attributable to several factors mainly including:
the different dynamics of the two vehicles, where MotoGP must take into account the tilt limit of the vehicle.
the substantial difference due to the aerodynamic load, non-existent on a MotoGP bike, but heavily influencing the deceleration values of an F1 car.
the significant difference of the footprint left by the tires of both vehicles.

To clarify, point one refers to three situations derived from the data taken by Brembo in the past at Austin.

Formula 1 MotoGP

Curve 9 braking time
0.9 seconds
2.2 seconds

Curve 11 braking time
1.5 seconds
4.6 seconds

Curve 12 braking time
1.4 seconds
5.9 seconds

The braking speeds below, always at Austin, are representative of point two:

Formula 1 MotoGP

Curve 1 entrance speed
73 km/h (45 mph)
60 km/h (37 mph)

Curve 19 entrance speed
169 km/h (105 mph)
115 km/h (71 mph)

Curve 20 entrance speed
95 km/h (59 mph)
75 km/h (47 mph)

Obviously, even bike braking distances are longer at Austin:

Formula 1 MotoGP

Curve 1 braking distance
126 metres (138 yards)
206 metres (225 yards)

Curve 12 braking distance
128 metres (140 yards)
300 metres (328 yards)

Curve 19 braking distance
70 metres (77 yards)
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.

Brembo fact sheet 2016 Grand Prix of the Americas

Courtesy of Brembo

Brembo’s fact sheet from the 2016 MotoGP event at Circuit of the Americas, detailing speeds and braking data for each corner on the circuit.

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

Average deceleration

Maximum deceleration (Curve 12)

The only aspect in common between the two categories at Austin is the effort required by the braking systems: Brembo engineers have classified both as medium difficulty.