Formula 1 & Sustainability

With this year’s Formula 1 now in full swing, we see fans all over the globe tuning in to watch. We also see sustainability being spotlighted this year too, thanks to insights such as Sky Sports interview with McLaren’s Chief Executive, during which he explains how the sport is addressing the issue of climate change and becoming more sustainable; not to mention Ferrari having recently achieved the highest level of Federation Internationale De L’Automobile (FIA) Environmental Accreditation for their sustainability efforts.

The British Grand Prix starts today, seeing a return to full capacity at Silverstone of 140,000 spectators, and is sold out. Fans are keen to watch Hamilton and Verstappen battle it out at the front, wondering if Hamilton can make his comeback after struggling recently.

Watching the cars soaring around the circuits at Silverstone from a birds eye view reminds me of watching my brothers playing with their Scalextric set as children. The huge difference being that should one of the little plastic cars have veered off the little plastic tracks they’d pick it up, unscathed, and continue their racing. In reality, Formula 1 can be a dangerous game and the consequences of a minor mishap can potentially be life threatening.

I’m reminded of the spectacle at the Bahrain Grand Prix in November when Romain Grosjean of France was trapped in a burning car after it sliced in half and exploded into a fireball, following a crash. It was like a scene from an action film, except totally unscripted and genuinely life threatening, involving a stunning escape that Harry Houdini would have struggled to match. As flames tore into the desert night sky, Grosjean was inside a raging furnace for about 10-15 seconds before clambering out of the burning wreckage with his race helmet and fireproof race tunic barely singed as track marshals sprayed him with a fire extinguisher. It makes me wonder how a driver could possibly survive this experience unscathed?

The FIA specify stringent design and test requirements for protective clothing worn by drivers and mechanics in automobile competitions. Outer garments, such as racing drivers suits and mechanics suits, as well as undergarments, socks, shoes, balaclava hoods, rain proof overgarments and gloves are all required to undergo rigorous testing to ensure safety. These garments must conform to FIA 8856-2000 2018 Protective Clothing for Automobile Drivers or FIA 8867-2016 for mechanics. This standard prescribes the design requirements, test methods and performance parameters for clothing for protection against heat and flame intended to ensure that the driver and mechanic are protected long enough for rescue workers to reach them. The testing carried out on these garments will be selected to measure the following; flame resistance, heat transmission, mechanical resistance, tensile strength and dimensional change – not to mention that garments may also be required to undergo a design assessment.

BTTG® are proud to be one of only three laboratories in the world to be accredited to the FIA 8856-2018 standard. Working in cooperation with members of the Industrial Working Group, BTTG® took part in extensive research and development leading to more stringent testing requirements in the 2018 version of the standard.

BTTG® are an FIA approved test house and are able to provide expert advice and support throughout the testing and homologation process, contact for further information.

Posted by on 16 July 2021