How Do Formula 1 Drivers Stay Cool?

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly

If you have ever watched an F1 race at a hot location such as Bahrain or Barcelona you may have asked yourself, how do Formula 1 drivers stay cool? Given that Formula One drivers are constantly exposed to extreme weather, heat, and track conditions, combined with exposure to the heat of their vehicles, keeping cool is essential So, how do they do this?

The Formula 1 car cockpit can reach extreme temperatures during the course of the race. Because of this, drivers use methods including training, conditioning, cool suits, ice baths, remaining in the shade, continuous hydration, and opening their visors to stay cool.

Formula one drivers stay cool without needing any sophisticated cooling aids. They can only rely on the cooling pads in their clothing and the open cockpit design of their cars to help cope with the heat. Furthermore,  heat conditioning and training are the most effective ways in which F1 drivers can remain cool during races.

While the methods used to keep Formula One drivers cool assist with their performance and immediate comfort, the most effective way to stay cool during extreme temperatures is the training they get to manage the core temperature of their bodies.

Do Formula 1 drivers have AC?

Formula 1 cars do not have any real cooling elements for the driver. Cooling units, such as AC, would add too much weight to the vehicle. F1 teams fight for even the slightest advantage they can get against their competitors, so they try to eliminate as much weight off their cars as possible.

Because of this, new technologies have been created to help keep the drivers cool in their F1 cars. The first cooling technology that F1 drivers use is the cooling vest. This cooling equipment is usually worn underneath the driver’s race suits.

These cooling vests are designed to be as thin as possible while maintaining fire resistance capability. The cooling equipment also include sleeves and other accessories used in various areas (such as the chest and back) to store freezing pads.

Freezing pads are placed into the sleeves and accessories right before a session starts to keep the drivers cool. However, they do heat up quickly.

In addition to the cooling vest, F1 drivers may also use a cooling collar. This cooling equipment goes around the neck of the driver and should cool the blood flowing to the brain of the driver.

These freezing pads do not provide any additional benefits to the driver’s performance other than comfort from the extreme heat. It does not lower the driver’s core temperatures, which is essential to keeping the driver cool.

Do F1 cars use dry ice?

When the F1 cars are in the pits, drivers can use cooling fans to keep themselves cool. These cooling fans are high-powered fans that utilize dry ice so that they may act like an air conditioning unit.

However, these cooling fans are gone once the car leaves the garage.

The truth is that F1 cars are built and designed to be cooled by the air they drive through, so there is no radiator fan to keep the engines cool.

Whenever the engine of the F1 car is on but not moving, such as at te starting grid, the engine and the vehicle can start to overheat since there is no passing air to keep it cool. It is the reason why the team crews manually cool down sensitive parts of the F1 cars, such as the brakes and radiators, using Dry Ice or other cooling elements when in the pits.
 
To give you a better idea, dry ice is made up of solid carbon dioxide, which sublimes at a temperature of  -78°C from the solid state to a gas state without turning into liquid (like in the case of water ice). It enables dry ice to leave no puddles of water, making it the ideal element to use in F1 cars.
 
The dry ice is placed in F1 boxes stored in specially conceived, thermally insulated containers like the MOVITHERM range manufactured by the Aleda Company, which has become the supplier to F1 teams for this product.

In addition, dry ice pellets are also used in F1 cars to cool the air intakes of car engines and reduce operating temperatures and the risk of blowouts.

BOC, a member of The Linde Group, deployed its state-of-the-art dry ice technology track-side to keep the F1 drivers and their vehicles from overheating in the pressure-cooker environment of Formula 1 racing.

Furthermore, packed into clothing, helmets, and boots, dry ice is also a common way of keeping Formula 1 drivers from overheating and losing performance.

How do F1 drivers not get heat stroke?

For most Formula One drivers, the Singapore Grand Prix represents the most formidable physical challenge of the racing year. It presents an extreme workout for the drivers’ bodies and the mental challenge of threading the F1 car through concrete barriers at a speed of over 180mph, facing a combination of humidity and heat, and a race that regularly runs to its two-hour time limit. Because of this, the race in Singapore is indeed a challenge unlike any other in the world of sport.

The heat and humidity in F1 races present two main challenges for the driver’s body, and they emerge in two distinct forms: dehydration and heat stress.

Typically, a driver loses as much as three kilos of body weight through sweat during the two-hour race in Singapore. Each F1 car is fitted with a drink bottle to prevent dehydration by replenishing lost fluids.

F1 racing regulations enable teams to use up to 1.5 liters bottles, but due to the competitiveness of teams and their aim to minimize the weight of their cars, it’s often just a liter or 500ml to save weight.

In addition, the temperature of the fluid is subjected to the conditions of the race and is often likened to drinking tea.

On the other hand, heat stress is different from dehydration. It relates to how efficiently the body of the driver dissipates heat. Heatstroke is at the extreme end of the “heat illness” spectrum. It is when the body temperature exceeds 40C, which often results in symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, or a throbbing headache.

F1 drivers are athletes in their 20s and 30s. They are well equipped to handle extreme heat. But even so, they still conduct various preparations ahead of time, so they can prepare themselves for the challenges of the race and prevent heat stroke.

Preparations for races in extreme weather usually start long before a driver checks in for their flight.

Most drivers conduct various intense preparations to prevent heatstroke. These methods include using a formal heat chamber wearing their full suit, training with lots of excess clothing and a driving suit, bringing an exercise bike into a sauna to do some training sessions, and other extreme measures to prepare their body for the heat that they will experience during races.

However, even though these F1 drivers are physically fit athletes and conduct intense preparations, the threat of heat stokes is an ever-present danger in the F1 racing world.

How hot does an F1 cockpit get?

Given the speeds these incredible cars can reach, the lightweight materials that make up the vehicles, and the various track and weather conditions to which these vehicles may be exposed, it is no surprise that F1 cars experience excruciating heat. But how hot does an F1 cockpit get?

The Formula One car cockpit, subject to track and weather conditions, normally surpasses 112 degrees Fahrenheit (44 Centigrade). With these scorching temperatures, the F1 drivers and vehicles should be equipped with advanced technology to not place the driver or the car in a hazardous situation.
 
The scorching temperature of a Formula One car is a product of several components. These components include the production of power by a Formula One power unit that causes the cockpit to heat up and the extreme heat generated by external track and weather conditions.

F1 vehicles are designed for fast speeds, not comfort. This factor is the main reason a Formula One cockpit is subjected to the extreme heat level it experiences on the racing track.

Like most vehicles, a Formula One car relies on a combustion engine and propulsion system to achieve momentum. The difference is that an F1 car needs to achieve unparalleled acceleration, top speeds, and braking times. All of these factors contribute to the amount of heat that needs to be eliminated.

However, because the cockpit of a Formula One vehicle is closely situated to the components that produce this extreme heat, it’s unsurprising that F1 drivers can experience extremely high temperatures of over 122F when racing.

Do F1 suits have cooling?

The cockpit of a Formula 1 vehicle can reach incredibly high temperatures when racing. It is especially true when racing in exotic locations where the temperature can become hotter than usual.

F1 drivers need to learn to stay cool by relying on the open cockpit design of their cars and the cooling pads in their F1 suits. As mentioned earlier, F1 drivers have a cooling vest and freezing pads in their suits to keep them cool. They may also use dry ice pellets packed in their clothing, helmets, and boots to keep them from overheating and losing performance.

However, in the old days, before the development of cooling pads, F1 drivers would wrap a cold, wet towel around their neck to cool the blood flowing to the brain.

Other than that, F1 drivers have no other cooling equipment integrated into their race suits.

How Do Formula 1 Drivers Stay Cool?Final Thoughts

The answer to the question: How do Formula 1 drivers stay cool? Can be answered by the following.

Formula 1 drivers stay cool by conditioning their bodies to perform at maximum ability under extreme heat. They primarily achieve this goal through training under extreme circumstances, such as wearing race suits and training in saunas.

In addition, F1 drivers need to keep their core temperatures down during a race to keep cool. New Technologies have been created and used to assist with this process, such as the cooling vest, the freezing pads, and the Dry Ice pellets.

Other methods used by F1 drivers to stay cool include ice baths, remaining in the shade, continuous hydration, and opening their visors.

Furthermore, F1 vehicles do not have AC because teams work hard to eliminate as much weight off their cars as possible to remain competitive and get an advantage against their competitors.

Moreover, dry ice in F1 racing has helped teams keep their vehicles and drivers cool during races. It is because of the extreme heat that the car and driver experience, which can reach 122F during a race.

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