The Ultimate F1 23 Braking Guide | How to Turn Off ABS | Improve Lap Times

There is no denying that Formula 1 cars are complex pieces of machinery and their brakes are no exception. Throughout this article, you will learn how a modern F1 braking system works, its relation to performance and how you can use this knowledge to be faster in EA SPORTS F1 23. 

Written by teams at
The Ultimate F1 23 Braking Guide | How to Turn Off ABS | Improve Lap Times
Written by the teams at trophi.ai & Driver61

There is no harder challenge than perfecting a lap in an F1 car and finding that final one or two per cent can seem impossible. But with a better understanding of the brake pedal, the lap times will slowly creep down. 

The next section of this article breaks down an F1 car’s braking system. For more tips and advice on improving your F1 23 driving ability why not check out our AI-assisted tuition tool trophi.ai here?

THE DETAILS OF HOW F1 BRAKES WORK 

For a driver to perform better on the brakes, it goes without saying they need to understand how F1 brakes work. Firstly, you need to consider the brakes as two parts: the front brakes and the rear brakes. In an F1 car, the two systems run separately, unlike most road cars. The brakes are an incredibly complicated system, which we will cover the basics of. For more information, there is a great article written by the Mercedes F1 team that you can read here

So, let’s consider the front brakes first. These are hydraulically powered, similar to how a road car braking system works. When you press the brake pedal, fluid is compressed in the brake lines via a brake master cylinder, forcing the brake pads against the brake disc and stopping the front wheels. Each brake calliper on an F1 car houses six pistons which press directly against the brake pad which in turn compresses against the brake disc. The six pistons in the calliper allow for better control of the brake pedal, better temperature flow, and a larger, more accurate braking force. A normal road car will generally only have two pistons per calliper. 

The rear, however, is much more convoluted. The rear axle is slowed using three separate systems all working in unison. Both the front braking system and the rear braking system are operated by the same pedal. 

The rear stopping forces are:

  • The friction from the hydraulic rear brakes themselves
  • The resistive forces in the engine (engine braking) 
  • Rotational resistance is a byproduct of harvesting electrical energy from the Hybrid Motor (also known as the Motor Generator Unit – Kinetic, or MGU-K for short).

A term you will have likely heard while watching F1 is the brake-by-wire system (BBW). The BBW allows the car to send signals from the brake pedal to the three rear braking systems. When the driver presses down on the brake pedal, the pressure generated by their foot is turned into an electrical signal that is managed by the car’s ECU. This is then distributed appropriately between the three rear braking systems to produce the most efficient braking performance.

The reason three separate systems are used is due to safety and to increase adjustability. If one of these systems fails, the ECU can recognise the fault and distribute the braking force to the other two systems. If the rear brakes were to fail altogether, then the car would not be able to stop, which would normally result in a large accident. 

As mentioned, all three of the braking systems are completely adjustable by the driver via their steering wheel. Having this level of adjustment allows the driver to fine-tune braking performance to suit their driving style. More importantly, the driver can also change the brake balance to compensate for things like tyre wear, brake fade and weather conditions.

The driver’s aim is to achieve maximum braking force before the tyres lock up. The driver also needs to do this without the car losing stability or predictability. A basic rule for brake setup is if the rear of the car feels loose under braking, or it feels as if the rear wants to slide out, then this is an indication of too much rear braking. This can be remedied by increasing front brake force.

Similarly, if the front of the car is slow on turning in or feels lazy on the corner approach, then more rear brake force needs to be added. The relationship of braking force between the front wheels and rear wheels is called the brake bias. In F1, brake bias is made even more complicated by the BBW system, as it can vary the amount of braking pressure through the corner in a process called brake migration. 

This essentially means that the brake bias is dynamic: it will constantly move forward and backwards to compensate for grip changes. This will give the driver more confidence throughout the braking phase of the lap by giving the car greater stability when stopping. 

THE LAST 5% OF YOUR LAP TIME

In motorsport, lap times between drivers can be incredibly close and finding that final tenth can sometimes feel impossible. When reviewing race data and driver performance one of the trickiest areas to perfect is braking.

What is important to understand, though, is that only a small percentage of the entire lap is spent on the brakes. For a driver who is a couple of seconds off the pace, thinking they will gain it all back under braking is a massive misconception. What is more important to consider is how to set the car up for the exit of the corner, which is dependent on the braking phase.

Braking Data Trace

From a driver’s perspective, there is a lot that goes on when braking, even more so in F1. The driver needs to consider how hard they press the brake, the braking points, the racing line, aero effects, brake balance, traffic and track conditions. Perfecting all of these elements is not going to make you a couple of seconds faster, it will only equate to a small amount of the overall lap time.

For example, the two tracks with the most time spent under braking on the F1 calendar are Monte Carlo and Singapore, both of which respectively equate to just 23% and 22% of the total lap. 

F1 RACING LINES FOR BRAKING

The racing line plays an important part in your overall braking performance. Without perfecting the racing line, you will find it difficult to keep consistency under braking. Luckily, there is a methodical step-by-step braking guide that drivers can mentally visualise to stay consistent and improve lap after lap.

We describe the process below.

CORNER APPROACH 

The approach to the braking zone is one of the most important steps to consider. You need to have a clear mental image of how the car needs to slow down before getting to the point of applying the brake pedal. 

The car needs to be positioned correctly on the racing line BEFORE the brake pedal is touched. Adjusting your line or car position under braking is very difficult to achieve due to the sensitivity of an F1 car.

When positioning the car on the racing line, it is advantageous to make use of the entire race track. Use the edges of the circuit where you can, but avoid areas like painted lines, kerbing, divots and/or undulations in the race circuit.

In the above image, the driver is not using the whole width of the circuit, making the corner tighter than it needs to be. The wider you can get the car on corner entry, the more shallow the racing line will be, potentially allowing more speed through the turn. The car needs to be on this line before you press the brake pedal.

THE BRAKING POINT 

The braking point is a point on the circuit where the brakes are applied, slowing you for the approaching corner. Where you make this initial press of the pedal will ultimately determine how quickly you arrive at its apex. The location of the braking point depends on several variables; including approach speed, grip, aerodynamic forces and track conditions, among others. However, after multiple laps in similar conditions you can define a suitable braking point for every corner.

The brakes on an F1 car should be applied to a point where the tyres are on the absolute limit of grip before locking. This is where the car has the largest amount of stopping force. 

The best way to find your braking point is to start by braking early for a corner. Braking early for a corner and releasing the brake pedal on approach is a far easier (and quicker) way to find the car’s limit. Pick a point on the race track that you can use as a visual reference. Your reference point can be anything from a painted line, a tree, a marshal’s post or brake marker boards. Just try not to use anything that can move, like shadows or skid marks. Once you see that reference point, use it as a benchmark. 

Next, you need to make a mental note of how the car is approaching the apex. If it feels as if the car wants to turn in too early, then it is likely you have started braking too early, and vice versa. If the car feels like it wants to run deep into a corner, then you have been too late on the brakes.

Finesse your braking point until you have a balance between under and overshooting the apex of the bend. You can do this by braking before or after your visual braking reference incrementally. 

TRAIL BRAKING

Trail braking is an essential part of motorsport. To reach the top level of sim racing you need to understand how trail braking works and why it’s a vital technique. So first let’s consider what trail braking is. By definition, trail braking is a driving technique where the brakes are gradually released on corner entry or towards its apex. 

Essentially, trail braking is a release of the brake pedal as you begin to turn the car into the bend. Check out more on trail braking here

WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO DO THIS?

When braking, you want to be as hard on the pedal as possible without the tyres locking up. However, to turn the car into the corner effectively the driver needs to release the brake pedal gradually as steering inputs increase. This is because when the car is at its maximum braking potential, no grip is left for turning. If you brake as hard as possible and then turn the car into a bend, the car will undoubtedly spin. 

The idea of trail braking is to manipulate the car’s balance by gradually releasing the brake pedal. Below is a graph of brake pressure vs distance travelled for a car going through the braking zone of a bend. Notice how the initial press of the brake pedal is harsh and sudden: this is so that the weight of the car is loaded onto the front wheels to stop the car effectively. Then, as the car travels towards the corner, the brake pedal is released slowly to move the weight from the front wheels towards the rear of the car, making it more stable. More weight on a wheel equals more grip.

Let’s imagine you are in a car approaching Turn 1 at Monza (the hardest braking zone in the F1 calendar). When you approach the corner your car should be positioned as far to the left-hand side as possible. You now have the car on the racing line and will be looking for your braking point reference. When you hit the braking point, you apply the brake pedal as quickly and as hard as possible. As the car slows, you will gradually release the brake pedal and look for the apex. Turn the car in while still on the brakes and aim for the apex. When you release the brake pedal, the weight of the car is transferred more evenly across all four tyres, helping the car’s stability through corner entry.

When done correctly, trail braking will give you more control over the car through the braking phase. It will also allow you to push your braking points further whilst keeping the car settled through the apex. 

WHAT IS ABS AND HOW TO TURN OFF ABS IN F1 23?

DO F1 CARS USE ABS?

First off, real-world F1 cars do not use ABS. This is because rules dictate that anti-locking braking systems are not permitted in F1 cars. In F1 23, there is an option to enable the ABS assist which we recommend when you are learning the basics of braking. Eventually, however, if you are going for realism or trying to compete in higher-level sim racing leagues, you will have to turn ABS off.

WHAT IS ABS?

ABS (anti-lock braking system) is an electronic system where brakes can automatically modulate their braking pressure to prevent lock-ups under heavy braking.

In almost all modern road cars, ABS is a standard safety feature. This is because when the car locks its brakes the driver loses all ability to turn, which can be very dangerous. ABS will very quickly release and reapply the brakes to allow the car to turn -  much faster than a human could. In many cases, this can prevent an accident from occurring. 

HOW TO REMOVE ABS IN F1 23

ABS can be used in F1 23. However, in all top-tier F1 23 esports events, ABS is not permitted. Therefore, at this level you must learn to drive an F1 car with ABS turned off. 

By visiting the in-game ‘Assists’ menu, you can set the ABS setting to either On or Off.

There are also several other braking settings in F1 23. Using these settings (listed below) can help you progress to turning ABS off completely. 

Brake Linearity

Brake Linearity is the percentage of brake applied per distance travelled by either the brake pedal or controller trigger. If you find yourself locking with the smallest brake touches, then you can increase the brake linearity setting to compensate.

Brake Pressure 

Brake pressure is the amount of force exerted on the pedal and passed to the brakes. Again, if you find yourself locking the brakes too easily, you can decrease brake pressure to produce less braking force. Be careful here, as moving it too far down will reduce braking performance.

Brake Bias 

Brake bias is the relationship between the braking force of the front and rear brakes. If you are consistently locking front or rear wheels, you can adjust this setting to either end of the car to compensate for front or rear locking.

HOW TO KNOW WHEN THE BRAKES ARE LOCKING

Understanding when the brakes are on the edge of locking is crucial to maximising your braking potential. In the sim world, there are two ways of recognising this. When using a gamepad in F1 23, your controller will vibrate when the wheels are set to lock. In this instance, release a very small fraction of the brake to reduce the braking force. If you are using a steering wheel and pedal setup then you will not have this vibration feedback (unless you have high-level pedals with a motor attached to the brake).

For steering-wheel users, there are two main sensory inputs you have to use to ‘feel’ when the car is locking the brakes. Visually, you should be able to see the front wheels locking and smoke caused by the tyre skidding across the track surface. Audibly, you should also hear when the tyres are locking. There will either be silence when the tyres are sliding or the classic high-pitch screech of a locked wheel.

AERODYNAMICS FOR BRAKING 

An incredibly important factor to consider is that F1 cars can't lock the brakes when decelerating from high speed. This is due to the aerodynamic forces F1 cars generate. Essentially, the brakes cannot provide a strong enough force to lock the wheels due to the sheer amount of grip caused by the downforce. However, as the car slows and the downforce decreases, so does the grip, so the driver must release the brake pedal to stop the brakes from locking - similar to trail braking.

To expand on this, you will have to consider the amount of grip available when applying the brakes to ensure you do not lock up. There are two key factors to consider: speed and steering angle. Again, if you are travelling at a slower speed, you have less downforce, which means you have less grip. In lower gears (third and below) you will unlikely be able to use full brake pressure because the car has less grip. You will typically encounter this scenario in low-speed corner combinations, such as Monte Carlo’s Grand Hotel hairpin.

Nascar AERO-Brakes in Action

We often see drivers misunderstand this ‘speed to brake pressure concept’ leading to them applying the brakes too slowly. To be clear, the initial press of the pedal should be quick, but should only be pressed to the point just before the brakes begin to lock. This is the maximum amount of braking available. So in low-speed corners, the brake is pressed with less force than in high-speed corners.

The second factor, steering angle, can often catch new drivers out. If you steer the car while on the brakes with ABS off, you will often lock up because you are asking too much of the tyre. As mentioned earlier, most of your braking should be done in a straight line. When you start to turn, you should be releasing the brake. 

CONCLUSION

F1 cars are incredibly sensitive on the brakes. There is a lot that goes into the braking procedure and visualising the braking phase will help you mentally prepare the process. 

Corner approach. Braking point. Trail braking. These three steps are essential parts of perfecting the braking zone. Without them, you will never find that final five per cent of your lap time. Remember that the braking zone prepares the car for the corner exit, so move your braking points further and further forward until you have reached the balance of over or undershooting the apex. When you have a braking point that works, improve your consistency by repeatedly testing it. Practice makes perfect.

Last Updated
April 29, 2024
CATEGORY
F1 23

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