Helmets in Formula 1 allegedly go through numerous checks before being handed over to the drivers. Well, according to Red Bull Racing, it is true. The helmet does take quite a lot of beatings before it reaches the drivers’ hands.
The entire Formula 1 committee have been finding ways to keep their drivers safe in what is referred to as one of the world’s most dangerous sport.
The statement is quite justifiable when viewed in terms of the helmets. There are a handful of tortures that a helmet needs to go through before moving into the designing phase.
First on the list is the crush test. A 10kg weight is dropped from a height of 5m onto the helmet. This test is probably to prevent the drivers from feeling much impact when a heavy object from the surrounding cars falls over them.
This is followed by the penetration test where the visor is shot with 4k impactors or air rifle pellets. This analyzes the durability of the visors in the helmet.
The ballistic test comes next, where the helmet is fired with a 225g steel disc at a whopping 250km/hr. Both the tests are likely to ascertain if drivers are safe from debris. Once the helmet gets the green light for the above tests, the Helmet is sent to the final phase, which is the fire test.
The helmet is passed through a chamber that holds a temperature of 790°C. The only task for the helmet is to not catch fire while in the chamber.
There seem to be only two main targets while building a helmet for the F1 drivers – making sure the helmet is strong and absorbent. Both terms are dependent on each other.
A helmet must also hold the capability to withstand any level of beating. At the same time, it must be absorbent and not transfer the shock of an impact, irrespective of its severity, to the drivers’ head.
Once the tests are done, the helmet moves into the designing phase where the designers modify the helmet according to the drivers’ interests. Eventually, it is fitted with the radio and drink tubes before making its entry into the garage.
Overall, before such standards were imposed, there have been quite painful incidents in the past when the helmets weren’t strong or durable enough. There are some drivers who got lucky, like Niki Lauda.
However, Formula 1 has lost some incredible talents like Jules Bianchi and Ayrton Senna, who had enough potential to rule the F1 grid during their times. Hence, one can only hope that these extreme safety steps by the FIA will prevent the sport from leaving drivers in similar situations in the future.