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 drivers in an overall made with DuPont™ Nomex®* brand fiber can survive for 11 seconds in temperatures of 840 degrees Celsius? In comparison, the maximum temperature in a sauna is 100 degrees, in an apartment fire it would be up to 800 degrees and the lava in a volcanic eruption reaches between 750 and 1,000 degrees.
- that the safety precautions were made even more stringent just before the 2007 season? The nose and rear structures now have to crumple up more softly and a six-millimetre-thick layer of carbon and Zylon protects the flanks of the safety cell. Zylon is also used for bullet-proof vests and is intended to prevent objects such as splinters from entering the cockpit.
- that Formula One tyres are filled with nitrogen instead of air? As a result, the pressure is kept constant even under extreme loads, which improves various factors including safety because even the slightest changes in the tyre pressure of just 0.05 bar can lead to a reduction in the steering precision. The tyres of production vehicles are inflated with oxygen, the inflation presssure is between 1.8 and 2.2 bar.
- that Formula One tyres can reach temperatures of up to 160 degrees Celsius? Tyre temperatures in production vehicles also depend on inflation pressure and can reach similar maximum temperatures. Tyres for production vehicles are subjected to an extensive final inspection. Specialists check every tyre for defects using their eyes and hands. In addition, the tyres are checked for potential defects by means of an X-ray analysis and numerous measurements. Only a tyre that has successfully passed these extensive quality checks will be delivered to customers.
- that the drivers have been given the additional protection of the HANS system since 2003? HANS stands for ‘Head and Neck Support’. The helmet is fastened with two elastic straps to a frame that the drivers wear over their shoulders.
- that for reasons of safety, Formula One tyres are subjected to quality checks in the factory involving a total of 130 items? If a tyre displays even the slightest discrepancies, the entire series is immediately disposed of.
- that for fighting fires, especially in the vicinity of the pit lane, at least five fire engines, each manned by four firemen, are on stand-by around the circuit?
- that technicians from the FIA take a great deal of effort at every Grand Prix to check that all the cars comply with the safety regulations? The checks start with scrutineering each Thursday before the race and the final checks take place on the starting grid.
- that the first Safety Car in Formula One racing was used in 1973 at the Canadian Grand Prix?
- that the safety fences around the circuit at Albert Park, where the Australian Grand Prix is held, now measure 3.80 metres in height? They were enlarged by organisers in response to the death of a marshal who was killed by a flying wheel in 2001.
* DuPont™, KEVLAR® and NOMEX® are trademarks or registered trademarks of DuPont™ or its affiliates.