The Bahrain GP crash of Romain Grosjean shook the Formula 1 world, including race winner Lewis Hamilton. After colliding with Daniil Kvyat at turn 3, his car slid into the barrier at a very high speed. Not only did his car disintegrate into two pieces, but it engulfed the driver in flames. Thankfully, he made his way out of the fire. But how did he do that? Why didn’t he burn? What saved him?
The answer is his high-tech racing suit. It’s the driver’s first line of defense against fires. These flame-proof suits are close to 92% Nomex, a fire-resistant fiber that is used to make racing, aircraft, and other military suits. They go through stringent quality assurance measures. Only after testing each suit 15 times, FIA clears them for use. Even the pit crew members don them for race weekends.
Lewis Hamilton was ‘indifferent’ to new racing suits
The FIA came up with new racing overalls this year, according to the Mercedes driver. In the quest of making them safer, they made them heavier, which, in turn, became more uncomfortable for the drivers. Lewis wasn’t a fan –
“I know our fireproof overalls… they’ve already taken a step up this year. I was a little bit blase about it in the sense that I thought our suits were good enough. And this year they’ve made them bigger and bulkier and they’re heavier kits like we’re already so hot in the car.”
However, those new suits probably played a part in saving Romain‘s life. If not for them, who knows what might have happened. The Briton has a newfound appreciation for them now, “But I think today they had the foresight perhaps, and I think that was a good move.”
Hamilton wants FIA to keep improving the safety measures
As is his nature to keep pushing for excellence and betterment, he wants the authorities to follow that too. “The FIA have done an amazing job, but we can’t stop where we are, we’ve got to keep on trying to improve. That’s what also makes this sport great. We are constantly evolving.”
Indeed, that is the essence of Formula 1. It is a sport that is driven by technological improvements. They are already working to make the sport ‘greener’. There’s no reason for them to stop making it even safer, and the racing suits are a huge part of that.