Formula’s regulatory body, the FIA, have announced the new 2022 cars will be twice as safe against crashes and fire compared to last year.
The new regulations – introduced to help closer, more competitive, and exciting racing – have been described as a major technical overhaul. The new set of technical regulations seek to improve racing but will also see the weight of the cars increased by 43%. According to FIA’s technical delegates, a heavier and rigid chassis flank and a front end that absorbs more energy is the most effective way to improve safety.
A good balance of both is critical, and it can only be achieved by heavier chassis walls and by better protecting the structures. It seems the new cars will feature stronger sides compared to their predecessors and will be stronger and heavier in 2022.
Explaining F1’s dramatic changes
After one of the most exciting seasons, F1 is completely revamping its rules and cars. One of the reasons is that faster cars can be as safer. This may have been a factor for the latest improvements, although the main reason is that F1 wanted to move on from a Mercedes dominated era while also providing racing with a few opportunities for better weight and speed.
The new set of rules, which was initially planned for last year, is aimed at improving the racing aspect, first and foremost, and F1 is hoping for unpredictability and great excitement.
The new changes mean F1 is releasing a new generation of cars. One of the biggest technical changes in F1 history features a simplified yet stunning new-look race car following a drastic aerodynamic overhaul.
Some of the major changes are:
- Ground-effect floor – new models have two long underfloor tunnels that create a “ground-effect” – ensuring more downforce from under the car.
- Sharper new rear wing and a simplified front wing – they not only look awesome but revamped parts of the 2022 cars have been designed to narrow airflow instead of sending it outwards.
- 18-inch tyres with wheel winglets -new winglets have been added to help direct the airflow from the rear wing.
While the latest F1 design changes allow for more exciting and competitive wheel-to-wheel racing, there are several safety devices without which formula 1 racing wouldn’t be possible.
We’re talking here:
New Tecpro Guardrails
While they have not been embraced by all race organizers around the world, guardrails around specific portions of the track also need to be specifically designed. Older alternatives, like Armco-type guardrails, have been massively criticized for their comparative lack of safety.
As major safety devices, these guardrails were designed to endure high-speed impacts, often in excess of 230 mph (370kmph).
While they do make a great job preventing vehicles from running off the tracks at critical points, modern F1 cars design means the cars often get tangled up in them. This has led to the manufacturing of more modern circuit protection devices like TecPro. These guardrails protect both drivers and crowds during highspeed impacts.
Fireproof technology is an essential piece of F1 safety gear
With all planning for the matter, the unexpected can still happen. For this reason, another piece of F1 safety engineering is the need for drivers to wear protective equipment such as fireproof clothing.
Like with anyone whose job is risking, protective equipment makes it less probably that a worker, or in this case, a professional driver, will file an accident claim.
Thus, F1 drivers are required to wear fireproof socks, underwear, gloves, shoes, and obviously, three-payer fireproof overalls. Typically made from a fibre called Nomex, this equipment protects drivers from the worst of fires that break out. It’s also an outstanding heat insulator and only ignites at a very high temperature.
No Race Without Halo Device
Yet another critical piece of F1 safety equipment is Halo.
Launched in 2018, the Halo is a crash-protection device that is located in the cockpit above the driver’s head. It’s made of a curved structure supported by a vertical pylon and mounted to the vehicle’s cockpit surround and survival’s cell. Halo is able to stop or deflect large amounts of debris, like wheels or trackside barriers from another vehicle, from entering the cockpit and striking the driver.
Weighing around 15lbs and made completely from titanium, the halo system can survive an impact of up to 125 KN of force for 5 seconds without breaking. It can protect the driver’s head from impacts at high speed, and currently, there’s no open-wheel Formula racing without this system.
The Crash Helmet
One o the most important pieces of F1 safety equipment is the driver’s helmet. Each and every racing helmet must pass FIA consent, while any damaged ones must be discarded immediately.
The first generation of crash helmets was introduced into F1 in the late 60s, and they have undergone major improvements over the years. As of today, each and every crash helmet must be specifically designed for each driver’s head, which normally involves scanning and building a 3D model prior to the construction.
Crash helmets are made of 120 mats of high-performance carbon T800 in multiple layers of fibre which are thinner than human hair. Unlike other pieces in the safety equipment, the only element of a driver’s gear can be customized. In fact, more often than not, drivers are known to switch their helmets livery. For instance, Sebastian Vettel changed his helmet during the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix in Niki’s Lauda Honor.