As we enter another season of Formula One racing, many fans’ hopes rest on Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and other F1 superstars; but let’s not forget that it takes a lot more than just a good driver to win a F1 race.
In order to be successful in the highly competitive world of F1 motorsport, every technical advantage helps – no matter how small. Firstly, if you take a look at an F1 car, you’ll find a huge amount of technology under – and over – the bonnet, and everything from the gears to the gas pedal has been meticulously designed and refined to create a lighter, smoother, faster car. Meanwhile, ongoing testing of the car’s aerodynamic properties continues to create faster vehicles that stick to the road, and every single surface of a modern F1 car, from the tyres to the driver’s helmet, has its aerodynamic qualities considered and researched.
At the centre of F1 is the safety of the drivers, the pit teams and the fans. The heart of each car is built with an extremely strong structure nicknamed “the tub”. This is the driver’s cockpit and survival cell, and is constructed mainly from carbon fibre. The fact that so many drivers have walked away (or at least been helped out of) some seemingly catastrophic accidents is testament to the highly successful protective construction on the survival cell. The cars are also designed so that drivers can get out of the cockpits in the least possible time to avoid burns. The current regulations state that all drivers should be able to get out in no more than five seconds without having to remove anything except the steering wheel.
Many might be surprised to hear that F1 drivers are some of the most highly conditioned athletes on earth. You might think that little physical prowess would be needed for a sport that involves sitting in a car; but on the contrary, a huge amount of stamina and endurance is required, with drivers having to endure high G-force cornering which can cause extreme stress to their bodies. Due to the hot climates that many of the F1 races take place in, such as Australia, Singapore and China, the drivers must be able to handle high temperatures for long periods, and they can lose as much as 3 litres of sweat during a race!
And let’s not forget the other members of the team that are so vital to success in this fast paced motorsport. Drivers may get most of the attention, but F1 is a team sport, and the speed and precision at which a team’s pit-crew can refuel and change a tyre or make more serious repairs will have a significant impact on the driver’s lap time and position in the rac