Hamilton expects more braking problems in 2017

2017 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Lewis Hamilton fears drivers will have to conserve their brakes with next year’s heavier cars even more than they have to at present.

The minimum weight for 2017 F1 cars will rise by 20 kilogrammes to 722kg.

Why F1 cars keep getting heavier
Hamilton, who said he had to conserve his brakes throughout much of Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix, says the rise in weight next year will make this a greater problem.

“I guess the things that pops to mind is how much worse it’s going to be next year when we’ve got a heavier car,” said Hamilton after Sunday’s race.

“It’s a shame the cars are as heavy as they are because we can’t push, you can’t race very well when you’re behind people here – but that’s maybe just the circumstances of this race.”

Hamilton said his braking problem didn’t clear up until the second half of the race. “They were way overheating, so I just had to slow down, so I just had to watch the other guys pull away and I was just looking at different ways to try and get them back under control.”

“Eventually once I did my second or third stop, all of a sudden my brakes were under control. But of course, towards the end I still got a bit of heat in them.”

Hamilton has previously warned drivers will not be able to drive at the limit more frequently with next year’s cars.

2017 F1 season

Browse all 2017 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

66 comments on “Hamilton expects more braking problems in 2017”

  1. Do the regs still limit rotor thickness and so on? Are they the same next year? Those limits always seemed weird to me.

    1. Yes the regs do limits rotor thickness and diameter.

  2. Hmm, I guess, easy solution would be to move to 18 or 20 inch rims.

    That would provide ample room for larger brakes

    Offcorse brakes are so small because FIA wants to limit braking power… Pretty sure that rule is not serving anyone.

    1. @jureo No, the brakes are just at the limit of what can fit inside the hubs. The teams don’t want the wheels to get any bigger because they rely on the tyre deformation to act as a form of additional suspension.

      The FIA was pushing for larger tyres 2-3 years ago when Michelin was pushing for the tyre tender, but the teams all successfully argued that it would be too expensive to redesign the cars given available time and money.

    2. the brake rotors are small because less rotational mass/momentum improves fuel efficiency. Mercedes run as lean as possible/probable, that’s why they have bad issues when running in dirty air/traffic. running different lines, braking harder to overtake, etc… The increased tire width will also assist in harder braking which will heat the brakes up more. But the real issue for Merc is their braking system and how much air they choose to push through the rotors/calipers/dependence on ERS. Fortunately in WEC, the car regs are liberal enough you could/can regen with all four wheels if you wanted to.

      the title should read, Mercedes expected to have braking issues. Nico has had ample issues with his brakes this year. But lets not confuse that with gross negligence and incompetence.

      1. PCXMAC, it’s a small world, especially the F1 world.

    3. @jureo, as Davidson has pointed out in the past, the actual disks and brake pads themselves are actually very durable when they can be kept in the right temperature range. Whilst it is true that they do use larger disks in LMP1 cars, they can also use the same type of pads and brakes for a full race at Le Mans, and I believe that they run a fairly similar thickness of disk in the current LMP1 cars too.

      The main issue tends to be more down to the fact that, in recent years, the teams have tended to run with more limited brake ducts than in the past. As they’ve sought to cut down on drag, the brake ducts, which are relatively high drag elements, have been paired back – it was a trend that was already underway in the V8 era, but has become more pronounced now.

      Equally, the cars are now tending to be limited more by the brake pad than the brake disk, since that has been more aggressively cut down. Recently, teams have tended to fit smaller calipers and, as a result, smaller pads, especially at the rear of the car (Mercedes, for example, are reported as having switched to a four pot caliper, less than the permitted maximum of six, to cut down on the weight of the caliper).

      It is done partially to reduce the unsprung mass and partly because, since they are now relying on the energy recovery systems to slow the rear wheels, it reduces the likelihood of the rear brakes locking under heavy braking. However, it now means that the pads have become the limiting element when the energy recovery systems start becoming overloaded and cannot take up the load from the braking system.

      1. you are right about unsprung mass, but you don’t run smaller pads to limit locking up your wheels, thats what the brake bias adjustment is for. Locking up your rear wheels has a lot more to do with the load on the rear suspension than the number of pots in the caliper.

        like I said before, Merc run a very lean braking setup (rotational mass) so that they get less drag on the drive train which in turn boosts fuel efficiency. They only have issues with the brakes when they screw up their calculations or get stuck behind another car and have to take in dirty air/brake more aggressively.

        The pads are not a limiting factor, the discs are. The pads are designed around the application/performance envelope, the pads are designed to take a certain amount of wear. The rotors store a lot more heat, and greatly affect the pads and the wear of the braking system.

        As for teams running limited brake ducts, thats an optimization problem, Merc run a lighter braking system that can’t take as much thermal loading as maybe some other cars, or older cars in the past that might not have stressed drive train efficiency to the degree the sporting guidelines dictate.

        And yes, last point, the sporting guide lines which limit fuel to 100 kg per race is the MOST COSTLY rule in the book, effectively placing Mercedes at the front of the grid, permanently, and causing all kinds of costs/reliability issues.

    4. I think the even easier solution is for Mercedes to just make larger brake ducts (like Ferrari have, for example) …


    5. The brake’s sizes as used in F1 (discs/pads/calipers) are not “too small” for the job they are designed for, the are designed for the braking requirements of a F1 car and race.
      According to Lowe Mercedes had no brake problems in Singapore, according to him the problem was that of brake management, this brake management is of Mercedes own making by design, (minimizing cooling requirements to minimize drag.
      Mercedes notified their drivers about the need for brake management during the race, first driver number 6 on lap 9, and than driver number 44 on lap 10. in the later stages of the race both brakes on both cars could be pushed/used to their maximum.

  3. Nico had a similar braking problem and still won the race, FYI Lewis.

    1. FYI, In lovely clean air, where he was in control of the race and cruising at times.

      1. I don’t remember Lewis ever being right up the gearbox of another.

        1. He was right on Ricciardo’s gearbox immediately. He said himself he was managing the gap to try and handle it.

  4. Perhaps Ham’s brakes are overheating because Mercedes took a giant leap forwards on brake performance, last year the ferrari’s were really good under braking now, you can see just how good the systems of all 3 top teams are they can out brake anyone easily. Hamilton is obviously looking after himself but anyway I really don’t like that the cars keep getting heavier. F1 is still looking at the past, the early 90’s, no refuelling long cars big wings chunky tyres. It makes no sense not to refuel, it’s quicker to refuel and has no negative impact on racing, also it gives an opportunity for fuel sponsorship but it can be dangerous if the refuelling time is higher than the tyre change and it’s risky for the big teams which have lost many Singapore GP’s on fuel stops. and for the sake of racing the wings are getting to big. Imo wings don’t look good big cars don’t look quick and spectacular in motion

    1. @peartree

      has no negative impact on racing



      The safety aspect just makes it a no-no these days. That coupled with the fact it produces boring races and the teams have to build and run their own fuel rig systems (quoted at several million *each* – no funding from FOM or the FIA for that) means i’m glad it’s gone.

      The fuel suppliers are getting just as much good exposure these days from making new mixes and blends that make the hybrids work better.

      1. @optimaximal, and those are just some of the more high profile incidents – you are right that, over the years, quite a few mechanics have been injured when drivers accidentally set off with the refuelling rig still connected to the car.

        We have also seen that, in other series where refuelling happens in a live pit lane, there have been instances where pit fires and injuries have occurred. If you look at the WEC, when refuelling takes place, only one person is allowed to refuel the car and it is mandatory for multiple members of the pit crew to be standing by with fire fighting equipment in order to reduce the risks – similarly, other series where refuelling is undertaken have had accidents and injuries result over the years.

      2. @optimaximal
        He says it has no negative impact on racing and you show some refueling incidents? Safety should not be an issue with refueling. The costs may be a problem and racing will be different, but it depends on the tires. If they’re not very durable there probably won’t be much of a difference. The only difference may be that teams cannot always react optimally to other teams’ pitstops, which may be a good or a bad thing.

      3. @optimaximal I said it was dangerous didn’t I? I did hint that the time sensitive nature of pit stops was the threat to safety. Remember that accident whereby a camera man got hit by a lose wheel, it was Spain I believe, that man almost died right there. Your 2nd argument is the excuse big teams made for refuelling to be banned, as I reiterate big teams don’t want to lose races in the pit-lane nor do they want to guess perfect starting fuel levels and then have weather changes or safety cars ruining their strategies. The costs of the systems were only slightly bigger than currently, the standard rigs are still used and fuel is still burned as cars didn’t suddenly become electric. The higher cost of the previous system was only a financial burden for the lower teams which had no fuel sponsorship, as some actually did have sponsorship. Reintroducing refuelling rather than making up a new regulation would also deliver on the 5 secs target but it would be cheaper. Optimal you are regurgitating Christian Horner, do not take him for face value.
        Now speaking of racing, during the refuelling era, in particular the boring years, teams would use fuel strategies to overtake cars as otherwise such was very hard, as aero was, and still is a big problem. These days the degradable tyres create performance steps that allow cars to overtake, anyhow it’s still heavily affected by aero. The races are effectively decided by not only tyres but the actual tyre pit stops, so nothing as changed strategically only racing wise, teams under or overcut by either pitting for a fresh set of tyres (Vettel Singapore) or keep running on a harder compound (Perez Singapore). The big change however is DRS, coupled with the other factors allows cars to move up the classification. To add fuel now, you are going to have more dynamic races, some will get it right some won’t. Cars are always going to stop for tyres which still overpowers fuel weight, so why not put fuel, the cars will go quicker the cars will look nicer and I won’t have to make fun of f1 because the WEC cars pit every 30 to 45 minutes.

        1. @optimaximal @f1figures wrote a short succint version of what I tried to say.

        2. @peartree

          Optimal you are regurgitating Christian Horner, do not take him for face value.

          I wouldn’t take anything that snake says with any value, face or not. I was talking about the cases Force India, Williams and Sauber put forward when this was recently floated – teams that can barely afford to compete as it is, let along spend many more millions on re-developing competitive fuel rigs…

          My point was also not ‘F1 shouldn’t be dangerous’. The point was that the FIA won’t introduce it without there being cast-iron guarantees that nobody will be hurt – it’s how Jean Todt works as he builds his image as world automobile safety magnate.

          1. @optimaximal Again.. I argued that the millions that could hurt the lower teams are nothing compared to the revolution of 2017(Mercedes has SFI and Williams votes, Sauber were indeed at the time, against). It’s not that I like refuelling per se I just don’t fancy a 5 metre 722kg aerocar, that’s all I wanted to say for myself, it’s my subjective opinion, you have your and I have mine and I respect that. However I feel there’s no basis for refuelling’s removal from f1, but the inconveniences refuelling brought to f1, the big teams and their “wingteams” removed it from f1 with the aid of the perception that refuelling was taking away from the on track racing, which is by now more than clearly a fallacy, one that was perfectly fed to us via the interests of the top teams. I just wanted to make that clear.

          2. The first time a fuel/refuel/tyre change mid-race strategy was used to win a race was in 1957 German grand prix by Juan Manuel Fangio, a race which is still today regarded as the greatest race/drive of all time.
            No other team in F1 tried using refueling as a race strategy until 25 years later.
            Refueling strategy than started to be used on 15 August 1982 by the Brabham team run by Bernie Ecclestone.

      4. The fuel rigs and fueling systems that were used in F1 were only those approved by the FIA, they were made by French company ATL (Aero Tec Laboratories).

        1. @ sunny

          The Pampas Bull did a refueling strategy in the race that holds the informal title “greatest race of the century”, the French GP at Reims in 1953. Granted, Gonzalez didn’t win. I’m quite sure strategic refueling was used even before that.

    2. @peartree ”Has no negative impact on racing” – Wrong, historical overtaking statistics show that the seasons during the refuelling era of 1994-2009 had fewer on-track overtaking moves than any other year since 1980, and in 2010 the number of on-track passes doubled compared to the preceding season and the only significant rule change from 2009 to 2010 was the ban of in-race refuelling, so it was the primary reason for the increase of on-track overtaking moves at that time.

  5. Hamilton has struggled with the brakes this season, he locks up more than any driver on the grid. His style isn’t suited to this era of over the top nannying, I’m impressed he’s done so well tbh…..

    1. Damon, every driver was managing brakes on Sunday, l dont buy into brake hamy having special brake probs/ just like Ves having clutch probs…teams are always telling lies too safe face of their drivers.

      1. Bogaaaa no team was as critical with the brakes as Mercedes were, pathetic when a driver can’t attack due to equipment limitations….

      2. And teams tell lies to deter drivers to push and risk upsetting the teams best interests….

        1. Haha ok, and the USA never made it to the Moon, also alderaan was an inside job XD.

  6. Guybrush Threepwood
    20th September 2016, 19:26

    Merc have often had brake issues, while you don’t really hear this being a problem for other teams. Perhaps it’s the car.

    1. No, its Mercedes chose of size cooling duct, their own chose of compromise between brake cooling and drag.

    2. Yep maybe car related, I want to see the old Lewis back. Well at least I’ve got Ricciardo to keep me smiling, he’s a demon on the brakes…

      1. The old Lewis?

        Out qualifying his teammate around Monza by 0.5 seconds where there are very little places to make up time, was classic Lewis Hamilton.

        1. I’m talking about the old Lewis on the brakes…

  7. The minimum weight for 2017 F1 cars will rise by 20 kilogrammes to 722kg, and the wider tyres are expected to add another 5kg in total on top of that.

    Are the cars not weighed with the tires (tyres!) on it?

    1. No and they also include the driver weight (inc. helmet), meaning bigger drivers have a natural disadvantage that they have to claw back via unhealthy dieting & doing mental stuff like running without water bottles.

    2. Not anymore, beginning in 2017. No more cruising through the runoff areas to pick up rubber after the race.

      1. The fia has the right to scrub off pick-up if they want to, but the weight will still be measured with the tires.

        1. @juzh
          I’m pretty certain that I’ve seen drafts for the 2017 regs that define the minimum weight of a car as including everything it does now, minus the tyres.
          However, there is no indication of that in the currently downloadable 2017 regs on the FIA web page. In that sense you are completely right.

    3. Apologies, I forgot that’s included in the minimum weight so I’ve revised the above accordingly.

      However the tyre weights are still going up, so that’s 5kg more upsprung weight position well away from the car’s centre of gravity, so it will be to the detriment of its performance.

      1. The extra weight of the tyres is NOT included in the 722kg. Per Article 4.3, the number is going to be revised up when they know exactly how much heavier the 2017 tyres are going to be.

  8. Think what Lewis is really trying to say here is ” my confidence is down and l will lose the title to Nico” Hamilton looks out of sorts with his driving over the pass months and maybe those personal demons have reappeared in his life, that he had years back…Celebrity is a double edged sword.

    1. Over the past month?

      Belgium – Started from the back of the grid, had a commanding drive to the podium.
      Monza – Completely dominated his teammate on speed, lost the race due to a poor start which has happened plenty of times to both drivers this season.
      Singapore – The only race where he is driving was out of sorts, but can be partly put down to lack of running in FP2 and suspension and brake issues.

      1. I don’t quite agree with your analysis of the Belgian GP. Lewis did start from the back of the grid, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. After the red flag, he effectively started the race from P5, with no disadvantage whatsoever. He only had to overtake the McLaren of Alonso and the Force India of Hülkenberg to reach the podium, and he wasn’t able to put any kind of pressure on Ricciardo. Pace: not that impressive.

        His race pace in Monza wasn’t overwhelming, either. During his second stint, when he was effectively driving in clean air, he never managed to gnaw more than a few occasional tenths off Rosberg’s 10 second lead, while Rosberg had no need to push. The clear pace advantage he had had in qualifying never materialised in the final stint.

        1. The Force India with a Mercedes engine in the back and a Red Bull that has proven it can hold its own around Spa. His drive was impressive and about as good as he could have hoped for.

          I don’t care about his race pace in Monza. The gap between Nico when he finally got a chance to challenge was at a point where he couldn’t claw it back without going 8 tenths quicker – he essentially gave up.

          He is not lost after one bad weekend. But people can dream.

  9. In next year top speeds wont be so high, and cornering speeds will be higher, so brakes wont be used so much if the difference to cornering speed will be much lower

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      21st September 2016, 1:41

      Partly true, it also takes more braking power to slow down a heavier vehicle.

    2. Good point Pawel and well worth exploring. Weight will be higher next year so there will be more energy from that, but the velocity side of equation is exponential so there might be considerably less energy from that.
      Some quick calculations with very rough estimates for a very heavy braking event for this years car (higher top speed/slower cornering) vs next years (lower top speed/faster cornering):
      2016 cars say from 360kph to 72kph @ 702kg = 100m/s to 20m/s =~ 3.51MJ to 0.14MJ or around 3.3MJ of braking,
      2017 cars say from 342kph to 90kph @ 727kg = 95m/s to 25m/s =~ 3.28MJ to 0.23MJ or around 3.0MJ of braking.
      So (if these questionable calcs are correct) brakes might be less of a worry next year in vary hard-braking zones. This probably also holds true to constant stop/start braking circuits like Singapore, but would need better performance differential estimates on those corners to be sure.

  10. 1st it was tyres that stopped the racing although this should not be an issue next year so now it’s the brakes? No sympathy, you can’t have your cake and eat it. No other team appeared to suffer so Merc will just have to run more brake cooling and lose a few tenths out their near 1 second a lap advantage.

    1. Impressive, you can see into the future and see that the tyres will be an improvement for the drivers next year.

      There are many, many pitfalls to the 2017 regulations and I am not expecting anything great from them.

      1. Yeah a bit of an assumption but there is less moaning about the tyres now and race pace seems very good next year the philosophy of the tyre is changing so no built in degradation, it is Pirellis chance to make a good tyre without being ham strung by the FIA demanding built in deg. We will see if they can do it although their road tyres are amongst the very best so no reason why they should not. With this tyre philosophy change it just seems like someone looking for the next moan as to why they cannot race fully.

  11. Cars will have more downforce, that will help them with the braking. Maybe not much but surely it will help

  12. Heavier cars in 2017. I worry for next year. Just watched 2004 Monza, now that was F1.

    1. @johns23 Well, next year’s cars will be quicker than 2004 cars despite being heavier in minimum weight.

      1. Save Tyres, hold back, Save fuel, drop back 2 sec, can’t get close to the guy in front, save brakes…… Sounds great to me. Regardless of how fast they go, thats not the point, you would’nt notice the difference anyway. Bigger issues than speed in F1 @Jerejj

      2. How is heavier better? It isn’t. The cars are too heavy manufacturers will eventually get them back close to 600Kg if the regulations allowed it and that ‘s even with the added hybrid engine units and turbo. 12 years of development since 2004 would see to that. The increased weight limits are a disappointment that detracts from the technical superiority of the class.

  13. Well nature is a bitch. Your strengths are also your weakness.

  14. Wait, serious brake problems from the team during the race, but it wasn’t a brake problem, it was management.. and now Hamilton is saying the brake problems will continue at what tracks, or every track? And no mention of what they fixed from last year. What did they change this year to be right back in shape and are they still puzzled by last year? Ok then, brake problems from here.

    1. The only significant difference between a problem and something that has to be managed is perspective, and whether it was expected or not.
      Mercedes already knew their brakes were going to be fragile before the race even started. This was an immediate and expected consequence of their setup choices, and the drivers knew they had to manage them more than in most races to prevent a critical failure.
      However, the situation as a whole can be considered a problem, as the line between a car that wins races and a car that crashes out with catastrophic brake failure is already quite thin, and Hamilton expects this to get worse with the increased minimum weight.

      1. Thanks, nase. The way it played out sure seemed funny. Kinda like when someones tires get switched then all heck breaks loose. Which says the tires really aren’t equal or it would be no issue. But your explanation was so cool that I now feel rest assured that Bernie is not trying to liven up the show lol

  15. Hamilton already expects:
    – messing up and having bad starts
    – brake problems
    – engine problems (although partially solved)

    Doesn’t sound too confident?! People fight for the championship till the end. Hamilton seems to soften the fall already when there are 6-7 races to go. There will be technical and other problems for every racer…

    1. I’m not happy that 2017 cars will get heavier again. Wasn’t long ago that car plus driver had to be above 600kg. Now we have limits up to 727kg. F1 will be close to Indycars at this rate giving away a portion of their braking advantage over other categories. Plus the sport is supposed to be promoting a Green image. Heavier cars take more energy to get moving and to stop – that isn’t energy efficient as anyone with a rudimentary understanding of basic physics would know. The regulations need to start drop the minimum weight limits back down towards 600Kg.

  16. I would have expected this in Italy. All the sudden they got no brakes. Figure that one out. So they never ever did figure out what happened at this time of year last year, and yet, all the sudden at the same time of the year, things went haywire. Sure is exciting isn’t it?

Comments are closed.