Formula 1 is serious business. With an average speed north of 200 km/h at some circuits, any sort of impact can have serious ramifications – and that’s why the FIA has invested significantly into the safety of the sport, not just in strengthening the car, but also what the drivers wear every race weekend.
Driver kit has come a long way since the early days, where racing helmets were actually made out of leather! So in case you were wondering what the drivers wear whenever they sit inside an F1 car, here’s Sebastian Vettel from Aston Martin F1 team to walk you through his safety gear.
Each piece of clothing or gear is designed with three main factors in mind: safety, weight, and comfort. Not only do they have to withstand the impact and extreme g-forces in a crash (particularly the helmet and HANS device), they must also be fire resistant to give drivers enough time to escape their cars in the event of a fire.
That is why almost every piece of clothing the driver wears – down to the inner layers – are all made out of a fire-resistant material called Nomex. The fabric’s efficacy was put to the test last year in Romain Grosjean’s massive crash, where even though he was stuck in a burning car for over half a minute, he only suffered burns on his hands and feet – the latter only due to his boots being stuck inside the car.
The kit goes through revisions in FIA safety regulations every couple of years, to ensure that they keep up with the improvements of the F1 car. The helmet in particular is revised every five or six years, mostly in terms of how much load they can sustain, but also little details such as better quality visors.
And with all that protection, you’d be surprised to find out that the helmet weighs just 1.8 kg! The inner paddings are sculpted to prevent pressure points on the head to enhance comfort in the long races, and the seams on the racing gloves are also on the outside for the same reason.
It’s amazing (and probably a little relieving) to see how much the sport we all love has evolved over the years in the pursuit of safety, so the drivers can give their all on track for our entertainment. It’s a pretty interesting insight, so be sure to give the video above a watch!