Technology in Formula 1 moves on apace and 2019 sees several changes to the technical regulations for the cars. For the drivers too, there are some new elements being introduced to increase the already high levels of safety in F1. Let’s take a look at what’s involved.
Biometric gloves. The FIA’s safety department started experimenting last season with biometric gloves that can measure the driver’s heart rate and level of oxygen in the blood, by means of tiny sensors within the gloves. As from this season, biometric gloves are now mandatory. It means that, in the event of a crash, the medical crews will be able to have a rapid assessment of a driver’s vital signs, before they even get to the accident. It will save valuable time that could be crucial in deciding what initial action to take.
New helmets. Also upping the bar in safety terms is the new helmet introduced for 2019, meeting even higher standards set by the FIA and providing a greater level of safety. To meet the new homologation standard, helmets have had to pass a new set of more complex tests. To the naked eye, the obvious change is a smaller aperture for the visor, which has been reduced in depth by 10 millimetres, with the introduction of a further area of protection up to ballistic standards, to reduce the risk of the driver being hit in the face by debris. Therefore the helmets offer greater all round protection and are also designed to better dissipate kinetic energy in the event of an impact. The helmet fireproofing standard has also been raised.
Minimum weight of driver. In order for the bigger F1 drivers not to have to go on an extreme diet, the FIA has decided that the driver’s weight will be considered separately to that of the car, which can now not weigh less than 743 kg including the driver, but without fuel. However, the driver, with helmet, race suit, seat, shoes and belts must weigh at least 80 kilos. Therefore, drivers under this limit must take on ballast, which can only be placed in the cockpit area and nowhere else, where it might be used to affect the car’s weight distribution.