Formula One racing is by its very nature a dangerous sport. However, through a combination of large teams of dedicated personnel, stringent regulations and groundbreaking technology, a death has not been reported in the sport since the unfortunate accident of Ayrton Senna in 1994. On this page you can find answers to some of the most common questions asked by fans regarding the latest safety measures in Formula One racing.
What special safety clothes do F1 drivers wear?
Drivers wear overalls tailor-made to fit like a second skin and created from two to four layers of the fire-resistant material Nomex®, which is also used in NASA space suits and can withstand temperatures of 840°C for as long as 11 seconds. Helmets can weigh only 1,250 grams and are created from a mixture of rigid carbon fibre, heat-resistant aramide and impenetrable polyethylene. Every thread in a helmet actually consists of 12,000 micro-threads, each 15 times thinner than a single human hair.
What tyre safety measures are applied?
At manufacturing stage, tyres for Formula One are subject to a rigorous 130-point quality check; failing just one of these checks results in the entire batch of tyres being discarded. Tyres are given hand and visual checks by specialists and also X-rayed and analysed using the latest technology. F1 tyres are inflated with nitrogen rather than oxygen, as this keeps the pressure constant even under extreme loads.
What precautions are taken in track design?
Specialist high-speed crash barriers with impact protection complement the typical tyre stacks for additional safety in risk areas of tracks worldwide. Individual tracks have also implemented additional safety measures, such as raising safety fences or creating additional lighting in tunnels in response to particular incidents. Gravel traps with a 25cm depth of spherical gravel (measuring 5-16mm in diameter) are set up in run-off zones to create frictional resistance to skidding or speeding cars.
What safety and medical personnel are on site during a race?
The Formula One medical centre is a fully equipped and staffed modern hospital operating with three teams on shifts, each containing six paramedics, an anaesthesiologist and an orthopaedic surgeon. There are also two fully staffed and equipped ambulances on site, and a helicopter manned with a pilot, doctor and two paramedics. For each F1 race, there are approximately 130 medical staff employed, plus an additional 150 security officials.