Bike against car, the comparison - for how much you can learn - is always fascinating. Brembo had already analyzed MotoGP and Formula 1 performance in Austin and they did the same thing at the Red Bull Ring too, pitching Lewis Hamilton and Andrea Iannone - virtually, of course - against one another.
Some may object that there's no room for comparison, since the physical characteristics of the two vehicles are so different. However, both series are the ultimate expression of automotive research, so comparing the two helps us see how far prototypes have come in the two categories.
Besides, Brembo has supplied the most important teams in the two championships for decades, which allows us to present data that will get you thinking. Before we start, though, let's have a look at the technical specifications of the two vehicles:
So, without counting the driver, a Formula 1 single-seater weighs four times as much as a MotoGP bike and boasts a significantly more powerful engine (with the added presence of electric engines).
Of course the tires are also different: both the number of tires (4 versus 2) and the size of the tread; Formula 1 single-seaters have significantly wider tires than MotoGP bikes.
Besides the width of the tread F1 and MotoGP also have a significantly different footprint: the surface of the tire that touches the asphalt. The difference is due to the different way tires are produced for cars and for bikes. While the full width of a F1 tire touches the asphalt, in MotoGP only a portion of the tread actually touches the asphalt.
Let's compare their performance on the Spielberg circuit:
The limits of MotoGP are essentially two:
1) the time required to slow down enough to take a curve
2) the speed when going through the curve.
Several factors come into play in both cases, especially
A) the different dynamics of the two vehicles, MotoGP needs to factor in the risk of overturning the vehicle;
B) the significant difference in vehicle aerodynamics, non-existent for MotoGP, but a major factor in deceleration for F1;
C) the sizeable difference of the tire footprint for the two vehicles.
Three situations measured by Brembo on the Spielberg track help clarify point number 1:
Point 2, on the other hand, is well illustrated by the following measurements from the Spielberg circuit:
Naturally, the braking distance for the bikes is also significantly longer on the Spielberg circuit:
Brembo engineers observing the competitions believe it's no coincidence that MotoGP riders in Spielberg spend 29% of the race braking; as opposed to 17% for Formula 1 drivers.
A difference that determines significantly different lap times.
The explanation is rather simple: Formula 1 vehicles can immediately discharge braking torque to the ground, since balance is not an issue; MotoGP riders, on the other hand, can't use all the force at once, since having only two wheels available means there's a high risk of flipping over.
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:
Unlike Austin, the Spielberg circuit places different demands on car versus bike braking systems: according to Brembo's people, the difficulty level is medium for Formula 1, but it ranks as difficult for MotoGP.
What have we learned from this comparison? Austin wasn't a fluke: braking is significantly more effective for F1 than MotoGP, as confirmed by the comparison with the Spielberg circuit.