Formula One – Safety Gear
Safety is high priority in motor sports. Formula One has seen many tragedies in its early days with many casualties that included drivers and spectators as cars crashed at high speeds. Engineers researched using latest technology to build safer cars and gear for drivers. This has certainly reduced the number of incidents over the last decade. Let’s know about the different safety gears used by drivers in this chapter.
Helmets − Helmets are compulsory in F1 races. Their built is very strong and light so that it doesn’t add extra weight on driver’s head at high speeds. These are fire resistant also. Of course, the helmets have to meet FIA standards. The helmet comprises of several layers that undergo severe tests. Normally, the weight of the helmet is around 1.2 kg. Interestingly, the helmets of F1 are painted by hand.
HANS − HANS stands for Head and Neck Support. The purpose of HANS is to protect the driver’s vertebrae and collision of head to the steering wheel in case of an accident. It is built using carbon fiber material and is attached to the seat belt in the cockpit. It is coupled with elastic straps. HANS was inducted by FIA after a major collision in 1995, Australian GP.
Clothing − The clothing of F1 drivers is designed to protect them from fire accidents in case of crash. It is a multilayered suit that matches specifications of NASA.
Nomex is the latest fiber material brand used to build suits for F1 drivers. The suit undergoes thermal testing; it is fire resistant and lightweight. The suit is worn by the pit crew also. The outfit is washed and dry-cleaned multiple times before undergoing tests. There are two handles on shoulders of suit so that it can be strapped with seat. This allows the pit crew to pull the driver out in one piece with seat during a crash to reduce injuries. Nomex fiber can survive temperatures up to 700-800 degree Celsius for more than 10 seconds.