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The Red Bull brake system tweaks playing a key part in its F1 success

Formula 1’s technical regulations deliberately seek to limit design freedoms, but that hasn't stopped teams pushing hard to innovate wherever possible, with Red Bull's brake calipers a noteworthy example.

Red Bull Racing RB19 brake drum detail

Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

Giorgio Piola is the preeminent Formula 1 technical journalist. Born in Genoa, Italy, Giorgio has covered the F1 World Championship since 1969, producing thousands of illustrations that have been reproduced in the world’s most prestigious motor racing publications.

Brake systems are an area of constant development as teams attempt to reduce weight, improve heat dissipation and increase the car’s overall stopping performance. 

Red Bull has made several changes to its brake calipers for 2023, as it continues to make small incremental gains. The brake assembly of last year's RB18 was a fascinating case study from the squad, as many refinements throughout the first half of the season ultimately yielded an optimised solution.

Red Bull had been one of the teams to create a fairing that enclosed the brake disc, isolating it within the larger drum which had been created by the new regulations and the arrival of the 18-inch wheel rim.

The fairing is a means to help bridge the dimensional differences that had been created between the discs and the rim, while also offering a means of keeping the brakes within a certain temperature window to improve their performance.

Teams had become accustomed to being able to harness the heat exchanged between the brakes and wheel rim, as well as fully understanding the impact it has on the tyre’s bulk temperature under the previous regulations. Therefore, the change of rules was only going to see them try to replicate what they could with the new designs.

Last year, the fairing was modified in terms of its shape and the coatings applied to get the best possible performance from it. The same could be said about the caliper too, as a new coating was applied to its surface to help reduce heat transfer.

For the new RB19, Red Bull has overhauled the brake assemblies design once more, with the size of the disc fairing increased and its shape revised, while the caliper has been subject to some changes to reduce weight and improve cooling further still. 

Red Bull Racing RB19 front brake caliper (yellow highlights RB18 inset)

Red Bull Racing RB19 front brake caliper (yellow highlights RB18 inset)

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

The central ports, which grant the heat generated by the brake disc’s passage through the caliper, have been increased in size. Furthermore, an array of small tubes has been added that act like fins to keep temperatures under control (highlighted in yellow, above).

Meanwhile Aston Martin has also made significant changes for 2023 and has overhauled the entire assembly, including the position of the caliper, to help it join the growing contingent now using the disc fairing solution. 

Interestingly, like Red Bull, it has also introduced the tube fins to its calipers this season (also highlighted in yellow) as its unending search for better performance continues.

Aston Martin AMR23 front brake assembly caliper (yellow highlight AMR22 inset)

Aston Martin AMR23 front brake assembly caliper (yellow highlight AMR22 inset)

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari too has made extensive changes for 2023 as it follows the example set by others and now incorporates a fairing around the brake disc, which has also resulted in it changing the position of the caliper.

This is now housed further in front of the brake disc, which has required a change when it comes to the pipework that delivers cool air from the inlet to the caliper housing. Two pipes now feed cool air captured by the inlet to each side of the caliper fairing.

Changes have also been made to its brake disc design, with the number and position of the drill holes altered for 2023. 

There is now an X-shaped drill pattern (highlighted in yellow, right inset), created by a hole missing every six holes down, rather than there being the full-width diagonal five-hole pattern that was used last season.

Ferrari SF-23 front brake comparison

Ferrari SF-23 front brake comparison

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

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