Drivers are still getting used to their new cars, but there seems to be one issue that’s rather common among the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Alex Albon. What do these two drivers have in common? Well, they’ve both been complaining about burning their bums during testing!
You might laugh, but it’s actually quite a serious issue for the drivers. Sitting comfortably in the cockpit is crucial, particularly as, unlike in road cars, drivers sit only a few centimetres off the ground.
WHAT’S THE ISSUE?
Considering the issue with bouncing , the 2022 cars are already an uncomfortable ride, but complaints about their seats getting too hot in testing have become a running theme amongst the grid.
On the opening day of Bahrain testing, Albon had to jump out of his Williams after only an hour of running because his seat had gotten unbearably hot. Ouch!
As they headed towards midday yesterday, temperatures in testing hit over 38C (100F). That’s why, unlike in Barcelona, teams and drivers prefer running in the cooler evening temperatures that the Grand Prix will operate in.
However, some heat is unavoidable. Lots of equipment, from electronics, cameras, a fire extinguisher and much more has to be tightly squeezed within an increasingly narrow space.
Additionally, with the nearby radiators and the power unit behind them, with the gas inside reaching temperatures in excess of 2600C, the heat inside the car can skyrocket.
Singapore, one of the hottest races on the calendar, can see drivers lose up to 5kgs in body weight and run the risk of severe dehydration as their core temperatures reach over 40C.
With virtually no cooler air to help them or the car, the heat stress impacts the driver’s physical and mental functions and is why a lot of the races closest to the equator are run at night due to the lower temperatures.
HOW DO TEAMS SOLVE IT?
Unfortunately for the drivers, F1 cars don’t come with air conditioning, and unlike in the World Endurance Championship, there’s no maximum cockpit temperature.
So how do teams try to keep their drivers cool without adding lots of bulky weight or wasting space? Well, the trick is to look underneath the driver’s seat.
Gold and silver film or spray can be used to coat the back of the seat, as both of these materials are highly reflective. Additionally, gaps in the sidepods are sealed up to prevent heat from the engine from being blown into the cockpit. It kind of looks like someone’s stuck pink or green chewing gum inside the car.
Lastly, on the tip of each car’s nose you can spot a small cooling inlet. However, the size of this is limited to around 1500mm² to prevent team using it for aerodynamic gain.
No wonder the drivers are sweating after a race!
Which part of the cars would you love to learn more about? Let us know in the comments below.