F1 for Beginners: What do the drivers wear to compete? + The 'Scrutineering' process
Formula 1 is a sport that has no margin for error and is compassionate when penalizing those who do not comply with its rules. Therefore, to guarantee safety, both the drivers' clothing and their cars must be in perfect condition.
A Formula 1 driver's kit is much more complete than just the race suit and helmet, and must pass rigorous tests. Fortunately, the days of the five-layer flame retardant suits introduced in 1979 are over. Today's Formula 1 driver kits are lighter but more durable thanks to the use of Nomex.
Nomex is a lab-tested man-made fiber used to create most components of a pilot's suit. It has to meet strict criteria:
It has been tested against flames of 600° - 800° Celsius
Must resist ignition for 10 seconds
Internal temperature cannot exceed 41° Celsius for 11 seconds
The following items are part of the driver's racing kit before he gets into the car:
Underwear consists of race socks, pants and a t-shirt. This layer of Nomex fiber clothing is relatively thinner and is worn under the race suit.
Another piece of underwear is the balaclava, also made of Nomex, which provides additional fire protection to the head and neck. It is the fabric that pilots use before putting on the helmet and covers most of their face.
These undergarments make it quite hot and uncomfortable for riders. However, it is a small price to pay in terms of security.
2. Race Suit
The race suit is the outer suit visible to us. It's a multi-layered Nomex suit and also a pilot's first line of defense against fire. Even the zipper on the suit has to withstand the heat it might be exposed to.
Despite being flame retardant, they are light and breathable. They help sweat escape, as drivers have been known to lose several kilos over the course of a race.
Another safety feature of the race suit are the shoulder straps, capable of individually supporting the weight of both the pilot and his seat. This is so that the driver can be removed without causing possible injury.
The driver and pit crews may only wear suits that pass the strict testing criteria of the FIA.< /p>
Before donning the helmet, pilots put on special earplugs to prevent their hearing from being damaged by the loud noise of the engines of Formula 1, which easily exceed the takeoff of an airplane.
The earplugs also house radio that allow drivers to communicate with their teams in the pits.
The helmet of the rider is the most visible and customizable part of the kit. Like the cars, it's designed in a wind tunnel to reduce drag as much as possible. To fulfill its purpose of effective protection, the helmet is subjected to rigorous deformation and fragmentation tests.
Materials used include carbon fiber, polyethylene, and Kevlar. Despite being layered, it is surprisingly light at approximately 1,300 grams. At the same time, they are strong enough to withstand heavy impacts.
Each helmet is subject to the approval of the FIA and is tailored to each driver. This not only provides them with comfort, but also improves overall safety. A custom fit helmet is more difficult to slip during an impact. Additionally, gaps for debris or flames to enter are minimized.
Helmets are the only piece of kit that pilots can customize. That is why, for symbolic or special races, the pilots usually change their design. For example, at the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix Sebastian Vettel changed his helmet in honor of Niki Lauda.
5. Head and neck support device (HANS)
< img src="https://cdn-2.latimages.com/images/mgl/7ZY7lP/s4/1017540025-SUT-20190601-MS2_2337.jpg" alt="Esteban Gutiérrez Mercedes HANS" style="float: none; display : block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" width="470" height="313">
The HANS is a great innovation in terms of safety. It is a U-shaped device that sits on the shoulders and is made of carbon fiber. It has an elastic band to connect it to the helmet and its main purpose is to restrict the movement of the neck during an impact to prevent skull fractures.
In addition, the HANS is designed to prevent stretching of the vertebrae and prevent the driver's head from hitting the steering wheel.
Interest in this device increased after the tragic loss of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna. Since the 2003 season, it is a mandatory part of the Formula 1 driver's kit.
The gloves are made of Nomex and fine leather around the palms, to help pilots with steering. Despite being flame retardant, they are relatively thinner. This is so that the pilot can improve his performance during the race. A thin glove allows them to feel the vibrations of the steering wheel with ease and make the necessary adjustments.
The boots are flame retardant and made of leather. The rubber soles used are thinner, to allow the rider to better feel the pedals. It also provides a good gripping surface to minimize the risk of your foot slipping.
But not only pilots must comply with the regulations, Formula 1 cars are also subject to strict performance and safety provisions. For this reason, the scrutineering process plays an extremely important role. But what is it? And how does it work?
Scrutineering is the technical verification of the cars by the officials to ensure that none are outside the regulations. It is the number one tool of the FIA to combat rule breaking and help inspectors determine if a car is legal before it hits the track.
The scrutineering platform The original span>was introduced in 1995 and has changed little between then and now. It consists of a 4.8 meter long and 2.3 meter wide aluminum platform that can be split in half for transportation purposes.
How does the technical verification work in Formula 1?
Regulations that vehicles must meet for practice times and participation in Grand Prix include:
- Dimensions and stiffness of aerodynamic devices
- Control systems and capacity of the engine
Specifications of fuel and refueling systems
Cars may undergo inspection at any time a Technical Delegate of the FIA and its scrutineering team consider it necessary. The selection of the cars is done randomly, by computer, to guarantee impartiality in the inspection of the vehicle. A standard car that follows the regulations can be inspected in just a couple of minutes. Any regulatory violations found may take longer, depending on the violation.
A typical vehicle inspection may include:
- Total height, weight and width of the car in question
- Evaluate the position, configuration and height of the rear wing, as well as the width of the front and rear wings
Checking the shape of the bottom and rear body area
span>The height and width of the car diffuser
Make sure that the bodywork around of the front tires fits correctly
Author: Florencia Andersen
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