FIA set to standardise brake systems in F1

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The FIA has opened up a tender to assign a sole supplier for brake systems in Formula One, as part of the major regulation overhaul that is scheduled for 2021.

The aim of a single source supply is to retain current levels of Formula One braking performance for all cars at a much reduced cost for the competitors, while also removing the requirement for the teams to design or source their own brake discs and pads.

In a bid to reduce costs, the FIA aims to have a single supplier for brake components, based on the idea that these currently provide little performance differentiation, and additionally are supposed not to be of much interest to the fans.

Friction material

A first tender seeks a supplier for brake pads and friction discs, also known as friction materials, as their friction causes the car to slow down under braking. The request by the FIA is to have two seperate front brake disc designs to copy with different circuit demands, and a single design for the rear brakes.

However, an amendment also notes that “if subsequent analysis shows that the braking requirements for all circuits can be economically covered by a single design of front disc, then the FIA will default to a supply of that single design of front disc and a single design of rear disc.”

The request from the FIA notes that, as wheel diameter increases from 13″ to 18″, “the intention is to increase the diameter of the front disc to between 320mm and 330mm, which should allow a more efficient design for the disc and the calliper. The starting point for disc thickness is 32mm.”

However, providers can still propose different dimensions if they see more optimal solutions. The FIA also stated that it expects the brake discs to have less and larger cooling holes, given that these currently are “a major source of cost for discs”.

The pads meanwhile are expected to be of a single design for front and rear brakes, and “should not be of a ‘wedge’ design, and they should not have cooling holes”, again to limit costs.

Brake system

These standard brake discs and pads are to be used in conjunction with a brake hydraulics system (front and rear brake callipers, a master cylinder and a brake-by-wire system) which will also be single source, of fixed design and subject to the second tender.

The request here is to reduce material cost by avoiding Aliminium Lithium alloys, and instead be replaced by more cost effective Aluminium alloys. Again, the provider is still free to provide alternative solutions, if they can prove them beneficial.

As the aim is to have similar performance and a minimal weight increase, the FIA pointed out that the increases brake disc size “leaves a larger gap between the brakes and the inside of the wheel rim than is currently the practice. For the calliper design, this gives the opportunity to take advantage of the extra radial space to create a more efficient bridge section to give increased stiffness for reduced weight.”

Also part of the second tender is the supply of the master cylinders and the brake-by wire-system, for which the supplier should provide a package that provides a compromise between what teams currently have.

In both tenders, the FIA states that it expects the standard components to be a development of the components currently in use in Formula One, modified to take into account anticipated changes to the car and to provide savings to the competitors.

Earlier this year, the FIA already had a tender opened for a standard gearbox supply for 2021 – 2024 as well, with more standardisation expected after teams finalise their discussions to decide for the sport’s future technical regulations.

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