When your typical day involves speeding up over 200 miles per hour around the racetrack, safety is paramount. In Formula series races, accidents can be fatal, so that the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile or the International Federation of Automobiles) enforces strict regulations to ensure that drivers are well protected.
Drivers' clothing must be flame retardant to help protect them in the event of a fire. Materials are subjected to rigorous open flame tests in laboratories. An artificial fabric called Nomex is widely used because it has excellent fire-resistant properties and is very lightweight. Modern driver suits are usually made from two to four layers of Nomex. They are thoroughly tested before use to ensure that they can withstand between 600 and 800 degrees Celsius. To be suitable for help, the inside of the suit must not exceed 41 degrees Celsius for at least 11 seconds when exposed to such heat. Likewise, zips must also be able to withstand high temperatures so that the driver's skin is not melted or burned.
Even the threads that stitch the suit together must be fire-resistant, as do any patches such as those of the sponsors, although they tend to be printed on them, which has helped reduce the race suit's weight by more than 500 grams. Ensuring that the suits are lightweight helps keep drivers comfortable so that they can perform at their best. Another essential feature is the ability to breathe; due to intense physical exercise, drivers can lose a few kilos of sweat during the race, so it is vital for their comfort that this moisture can escape.
Racing suits and clothing made of Nomex ® fiber help play a pivotal role in ensuring that valuable second racing professionals need to escape fires that result from both on-track collisions and pit accidents. And it's long-lasting protection. Whether found in protective suits, underwear, socks, or gloves, the exceptional flame resistance of Nomex ® fiber can not be washed or worn away.
The last thing racing professionals want to think about when they're speeding around the track at 200 MPH is the effectiveness of their flame-resistant protection. They want to know that it will keep them safe from harm in the event of an accident. That's why 95 percent of racers around the world wear Nomex ® suits and clothing.
Racing suits are only part of the protection of these professionals. One of the most effective ways to improve their safety on the track is to increase the number of layers they wear. Because it provides a thorough body coverage from the neck to the wrists to the ankles, long Nomex ® fiber johns form one of several layers of driver and pit crews set up before race time.
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