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Part Two - black boxes & barriers

The 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix. © Allianz Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.07 passes the pit lane speed limit sign. Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Friday 20 July 2007. World © Sutton The grid before the start of the 2010 Belgian Grand Prix. © Allianz Nico Rosberg in the cockpit of the Mercedes. © Allianz Parc ferme at the 2011 Australian Grand Prix. © Allianz

Since 1950, the speed, technology and glamour of Formula One racing has attracted people from all over the globe. And as the sport has developed, with the cars getting faster and the drivers younger, safety has become an increasingly important consideration for everyone involved.

In the early days, serious, even fatal crashes were almost an accepted part of a Grand Prix weekend. Nowadays, however, the FIA, the teams and event organisers all work to maintain the very highest safety standards. Extensive regulations, dedicated personnel and ground-breaking technology unite in managing the risks so that the fans can concentrate on what’s really important - the race!

Did you know…?

- that every single thread in the T 800 high performance fibre used in Formula One helmets consists of about 12,000 microthreads? Each one of these microthreads is 15 times thinner than a single human hair. The total length of all the threads processed in one helmet is approximately 16,000 kilometres.

- that, to improve safety, the regulations that apply to the pit lane are just as stringent as the ones for the track? Anyone who exceeds the stipulated speed limit (60 km/h during all free practice sessions, 80 km/h during qualifying and race) is penalised. During practice and qualifying, every kilometre driven too fast costs €200. During the race, there is a time-consuming drive-through penalty.

- that a special high-speed barrier has been developed to improve the safety at particularly fast tracks and in corners with limited run-off zones? The new impact protection complements the conventional tyre stacks and is able to absorb the energy of a collision at 200 km/h.

- that the track organisers of Germany’s Nurburgring circuit have invested about 50 million euros in improving the safety of the drivers and the spectators in recent years?

- that for a monocoque, about 30 square metres of carbon-fibre mats are processed, in which the individual fibres are five times thinner than a human hair?

- that the first fire-resistant racing overalls were worn in 1979 by Niki Lauda, Mario Andretti and Carlos Reutemann? They consisted of five layers of a fire-resistant material, as also used by NASA for space suits. Nowadays, the overalls, that are tailor-made to fit the drivers perfectly, are made of two to four layers of Nomex® material.

- that it has been compulsory since 1999 for every Formula One car to be fitted with an accident recorder? The device resembles the black box in an aircraft and records all the speed and deceleration data, which provide the basis for further safety improvements.

- that the medical centre at a Formula One race track leaves nothing to be desired when compared to a modern hospital? Equipped with all the necessary medical devices and manned at all hours by one of three shifts, each including an orthopaedic surgeon, an anaesthesiologist and six paramedics, the medical centre takes care of First Aid and trauma care for injured drivers.