Racing Car Safety


During the 1960s the rate of fatal and serious injury within Formula 1 was 1 in every 8 crashes. The period 1980-92 saw a further impressive decline in fatalities and serious injuries per accident to less than 1 in 250. During Formula One history, regulations have changed drastically, always to increase the safety of the drivers and spectators. The following table give an overview of the most important changes in the official FIA regulations from the very beginning of F1 until today.


The Full list of Formula 1drivers who died during some racing event is here.
Check my article about improvement in track safety year by year
Check my article about improvement in driver safety year by year
Article abour general safety in Formula 1 you can find here


Safety regulations for Formula 1 cars

1958: Rule changes included the introduction of AvGas in place of alcohol fuels and a reduction in the length of races from 500km or three hours to 300km or two hours.
Lotus introduced a revolutionary design - a car with an aluminium monocoque chassis instead of the traditional space frame design, heralded as one of the most significant technological breakthroughs.
1963-65: Pump fuel only. Automatic starter; rollbar; double braking system; rules for seatbelt anchorages, fire protection, fuel tanks, fillers and breathers.
1968: Electrical circuit breaker; reverse gear; oil catch tank; rollbar 5 cm above driver's helmet. FIA make recommendations on use of seat harnesses
1969: Two extinguisher systems; parts with aerodynamic influence must be immobile, fixed to sprung parts of car only; maximum bodywork height & width limits.
1970: Safety bladder fuel tanks
1972: Safety foam in fuel tanks; no magnesium sheet less than 3mm thick; 15W red rear light; headrest; combined electrical cut-off/extinguisher external handle; FIA/spec/FT3 fuel tank. 6-point harness becomes compulsory
1973: Crushable structure round fuel tank ; no chrome plating of suspension parts.
1974: Selfseal breakaway fuel coupling
1976: "Safety structures" around dashboard and pedals.
1977: Pedalbox protection defined.
1978: Bulkhead behind driver and front rollbar defined.
1979: Bigger cockpit opening; 2 mirrors; improved extinguisher system.
1981: Reinforced "survival cell" introduced and extended in front of driver's feet.
1983: McLaren and Lotus debuted cars featuring CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced polymer) chassis
1983: Flat bottom obligatory; skirts banned; rear red light increased to 21W.
1984: Refuelling in races banned; fuel tank in centre of car.
1985: Frontal crash test.
1988: Driver's feet behind front wheel axis; static crash test of survival cell and fuel tank.
1990: Larger mirrors; quickly detachable steering wheel.
1991: FIA tested seatbelts; FT5 fuel tanks; rollbar test; dynamic test of survival cell.
1992: More severe impact tests: water-filled fuel tank fitted to test strength of seat back bulkhead and 75 kg dummy fitted with maximum deceleration figure for the torso (also verifies harness anchorage strength).
1993: Headrest area increased (from 80cm² to 400cm²).
Rear wing height above ground reduced (100cm to 95cm).
Distance of front wing endplates above the flat bottom increased (25mm to 40mm).
Complete wheel width reduced (18 to 15").
Fuel regulations restricted to permit only fuels of a kind used by the general public.
1994: Wheels must be made from an homogeneous metallic material.
More stringent fire extinguisher regulations
Minimum thickness of the headrest 75mm, (no minimum previously).
Cockpit area side load test increased (from 2000daN to 3000daN).
Driver aids (traction control, anti-lock and power brakes, automatic gears) banned.
Four wheel steering no longer permitted.
Downforce reduced: smaller front wing endplates, shorter diffuser, deflector panels restricted.
10mm skid block under reference plane.
1995: Engine capacity reduced: 3.5 to 3.0 liters. Chassis must extend at least 30cm in front of driver's feet (previously 15cm).
Frontal impact test speed increased (from 11 to 12m/s).
Load in the nose cone push-off test increased (by 33% from 3000daN to 4000daN).
Survival cell side impact test introduced.
Obligatory automatic neutral selection when the engine stops.
Reduce front wing endplate heights (to between 5cm and 25cm above flat bottom) and length (must not extend further back than 35cm in front of the front wheel axis).
Rear wing max. height reduced by 10cm.
1996: Front wing endplates min. 10mm thick to prevent tire damage to cars in front.
Accident Data Recorder to be within survival cell.
Higher cockpit sides.
75mm side headrests compulsory.
Static load test both sides of cockpit rim.
Size of rear "winglets" reduced.
Energy absorbing structure around cockpit sides made of energy absorbing foam.
1997: FIA Accident Data Recorder (ADR) obligatory on all cars.
Energy absorbing structure on gearbox imposed, with rear impact test.
Energy absorption of steering wheel, column and rack must be shown by impact test.
Suspension must be designed to prevent contact of a front wheel with the driver's head in an accident and to provide 120° articulation of the forward lower arms, front and rear, to help retain the wheels.
1998: Overall width reduced from 2m to 1.8m; grooved tires made obligatory, to reduce cornering speeds.
Single fuel bladder mandatory. Refuelling connector must be covered.
dimensions increased; side headrests extended to steering wheel.
Mirror size increased, 5cmx10cm to 5x12.
Front roll structure test introduced; survival cell dimensions forward of dash increased; side impact test speed increased (nearly 100% more energy), site moved forward 200mm.
1999: Engine oil breathers to vent into the engine air intake. A cable must tether each wheel to the chassis to prevent it flying off or contacting the driver's head, in case of accident. A seat which can be extracted with the driver in it in case of injury is mandatory. Use of beryllium alloys in the chassis is prohibited. Frontal impact test: speed and maximum permitted average deceleration increased (from 12 to 13m/s and 25 to 40g). Distance of the driver's helmet below a line between the roll hoops increased (from 50 to 70mm). Rear and lateral headrests to be 1-piece, with standard quick-release method. Asymmetric braking prohibited. The FIA Accident Data Recorder must also be in operation in private testing.
2000: Standardisation of removable seat fixing. Top of roll hoop 3 cm max. behind cockpit. Survival cell side height regulated. Survival cell side panel outer skin laminates must be made to FIA specifications, for increased penetration resistance. Static load side test in driver's leg area increased 20%. Rear impact structure minimum cross section regulated. Thickness of the cockpit wall defined. Introduction of a layer of Kevlar to prevent monocoque intrusion.
2001: Increase of the side impact test speed from 7m/s to 10 m/s. Survival cell side intrusion panels and penetration test introduced. Main rollhoop must be able to withstand test load also from rear. Obligatory Confor padding beside and above driver's legs. Second, identical, tether and attachments for each wheel. Front of the skid block chamfered. Restriction of the number of rear wing elements. Minimum front wing height raised 50 mm. Use of beryllium alloys in the engine prohibited, stipulated a maximum of three rear wing elements and increased the size of the safety cell and cockpit template.
2002: raised cockpit sides to protect driver head
2004: Minimum size set of rear wing end plates and engine cover to allow more sponsor space; launch control forbidden; full-automatic gearboxes forbidden. Engine must last an entire race weekend. The rear wing regulations were also refreshed, limiting the designers to just two upper elements.
2005: Reduction of diffuser size to reduce cornering speeds. Requirement that the engine would last two race weekends.
2008: A revised cockpit entry template for 2008 gives greater lateral driver head protection, Each driver may use no more than eight engines during a Championship season.
2009: Smaller diffuser, narrow rear wing, Each driver may use no more than one gearbox for four consecutive Events, KERS
2010: refueling ban, Adjustable front wings
2011: Each driver may use no more than one gearbox for five consecutive Events, Adjustable rear wings, second teather on all wheels.
2014: New revolutionary side impact system that works effectively regardless of the angle of impact. The teams agreed to implement this system for 2014 at the F1 Technical Working Group meeting on 17 May 2013.
2014: In order to ensure that the cockpit rims either side of the driver's head are stronger, the amount of deflection during the static load tests has been reduced from 20mm to 5mm.
2014: Only five power units may be used by each driver for the whole season, an change from eight units before. Any use of an additional complete power unit will result in that driver having to start the race from the pit lane. The 2014 regulations divide the power units into six modules, and drivers will be allowed to mix and match their allowance for five of each one. Any changes of individual elements above the permitted five, such as turbocharger, MGU or Energy Store, will result in a 10 grid place penalty, and the replacement of a complete engine will put a car to the back.
- One gearbox for six consecutive events, an increase from five before.
- 100kg fuel mass limit usage during the race with max fuel mass flow of 100kg/h above 10500rpm, which is down from approximately 150kg in 2013.
- Electronic control of the rear brake circuit is permitted in order to ensure consistent braking whilst energy is being recovered/harvested.
- The car minimum weight limit has been raised from 642kg to 690kg. The weight distribution has also been changed accordingly.
- New safety-light system for 2014's more powerful ERS located on the rollhoop below upper camera pod.
2014: Resource restriction into Sporting Regulations – new limits on the Wind Tunnel and CFD (30 hrs wind on time/CFD Teraflops/week, 80 runs/week, 60hrs occupancy/ week )and no aero test day allocation.
- Double points for final race of the season
2016: F1 cars will feature increased safety measures after teams were tasked with increasing the height of the cockpit's side protection by 20mm and strengthening the area to withstand a force of 50 kilonewtons (up from 15 kilonewtons last year).
2017: No more wet starts or restarts behind safety car. Only standing (re)starts.
2018: addition of FIA-driven mandatory of the "Halo" cockpit protection device. Its introduction was pushed through by the governing body - on safety grounds rather than through a standard vote.
2018. F1's rules have been tweaked this year to limit each car to three power units across the entire 21 race season before incurring penalties.


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Books to read


Some useful links:

- f1technical.net, a great site with a lot of technical information’s and explanations. Site is updated daily with news from F1 word.

 - autosport.com, This site is a legend. A bible for racing lovers. News from all around the word. Unfortunately, to get access to all news, interviews and to open the site completely you should be subscribed to Autosport magazine. Anyway, great read.

James Allen on F1
- JA.F1 site (or blog) ovned by ITV Sport’s lead commentator on Formula 1 James Allen

Joe Saward blog
- joesaward is the Joe Saward official blog about Formula 1 world. Joe is an journalist, who write primarily about politics in and around motorsport, specifically on the FIA Formula 1 World Championship

Vital F1
 - vitalf1.com/ is another great site for Motor Sports fan’s like me. Site is relatively new, but great fun, with great discussion forum, Formula 1 news and forum.

 GP update
- f1.gpupdate.net, Site with fresh news from Formula 1

Planet F1
 - planetf1, another site with many different articles, news and statistics. Biased toward British teams, but anyway good read.

Gurney flap
 - gurneyflap.com, Great history site. You can learn a lot from this site. Pictures, cars and many many more. Great.

4ormula1 is a database of Formula 1 history and statistics of drivers, teams, grand prix, and all results since 1950.

Missed Apex Podcast
Enjoy range of Podcasts and Articles on Motorsport. Every week a Formula one chat on Missed Apex F1 Podcast with F1 journalist Joe Saward and tech Analyst Matthew Somerfield as guests. Also the exciting all electric racing series formula E on eRadio Show and Bike Show Lean Angle Podcast.

Racecar engineering
-Racecar Engineering, an online magazine with a lot to learn from, a lot of technical information’s and explanations

 - fia.com, La Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, representing the interests of motoring organisations and motor car users. Head organisation and ruler in auto sport.

 - wikipedia.org, I don’t believe that I have to tell you anything about this site. It’s not about Formula 1 technology, but you can learn a lot about that too.

Sutton Images

grandprix photo

 - carbibles.com, a great site for normal car users. Here you can find explanations of almost everything about your car and how it works. Technical reviews and explanations of some in-car gadgets.

Dare To Be Different
- Daretobedifferent.org Susie Wolff and UK governing body of UK motorsport have joined forces to launch Dare To Be Different, a high-profile new initiative which is about increasing female participation, not just on the track but in all aspects of the sport.

Giorgio Piola web site