Safety Measures for Formula One Drivers

What generally makes Formula One racing a dangerous sport is the high-speed driving needed in different challenging courses. Though winning the race is probably the main concern, the driver’s safety is also as important. New innovations and racecar constructors are always on the lookout for new and feasible safety mechanisms.

Formula One racecars must be designed in such a way that the driver can get out of them as quickly as possible. In exiting the car, only a maximum of five seconds is allowed and only the steering wheel removed during the process. In addition, the steering wheel should be re-installable within five seconds so that the racecar can be removed out of the track if it poses a threat for other drivers during an ongoing race.

F1 - Safety Car for 2008

The cockpit of the racecar is considered as the driver’s survival cell. In F1 racing, this is constructed with a rollover protective roof together with front and rear crash protection features. Its sidewalls have also been recently constructed as taller and stronger for added protection from flying debris, which may possibly occur during a race. Prior to being used, these racecars also needed to undergo a crash test to determine how much they can actually protect the driver.

Apart from the racecar itself, drivers also receive additional safety protection by the detailed development of their race clothes.

The overalls worn by F1 racecar drivers have large safety handles built on both sides of its shoulders. FIA requires that drivers should be removed from the cars quickly in dangerous conditions though still strapped on their seats. Because of this, race car seats are held in place by only a couple of standardized bolts, which can be easily removed by a rescue team. The long short straps enable rescue teams to remove the driver from the car even while the latter is still fastened from his seat. The safety handles serve its purpose as a means of pulling up the driver from the car’s cockpit.

Though fires only occur on a few occasions during Formula One racing, certain strict and safety measures are still enforced to control fire-related accidents. Race drivers wear a fireproof clothing gear, which can also ensure them safe from burns if ever they caught fire until such time that the fire gets fully extinguished. Even if safety is a primary concern, the comfort of the driver is not compromised. Race drivers needed to endure high temperatures during a race so their race clothing gears have been engineered to allow their body proper ventilation through enabling the release of sweat thus minimizing the possibilities of overheating.

In racing events, usual causes of fatalities and injuries are neck and skull fractures brought about by high-speed deceleration. This is also known as whiplash. To minimize these whiplash effects, the HANS (Head and Neck Support System) was established. In this system, a collar is attached to the safety belt strapped on the helmet. This helps keep the helmet in place especially during accidents and collisions. The use of HANS became mandatory in Formula One racing ever since 2003.

Helmets are considerably important in F1 racing since it protects the most important part of a driver’s body–the head. Ironically, this is the only fully exposed part of a racecar driver during a competition. Helmets needed to be lightweight to minimize the severity of a whiplash during a collision or an accident. Recently produced F1 helmets weigh below three pounds. The helmet is made from carbon fiber–a material also used for making bulletproof vests. Aside from this, the helmet is also made from a softer plastic and a fireproof covering. The helmet’s visor is made from polycarbonate.

Overall, Formula One racing can be considered as highly unpredictable and accidents are then inevitable. It is for this reason that top-notch medical assistance is required for every Grand Prix event. Aside from highly trained medical assistance teams and professionals, each race circuit also comes equipped with its own medical centers and local hospitals are also on standby, fairly within reach in cases of emergency.

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Related posts:

  1. General Safety Guidelines for Race Drivers
  2. A Look Into the Features of A Formula One Racecar
  3. The People Behind Formula One Racing
  4. The Season of Formula One
  5. The F1 Engine – Heart of Formula One Racing

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  1. [...] unknown: The use of HANS became mandatory in Formula One racing ever since 2003. Helmets are considerably important in F1 racing since it protects the most important part of a driver’s body–the head. Ironically, this is the only fully exposed … [...]

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