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Race School: How Race Car Safety Systems Work – Formula E

Race School: How Race Car Safety Systems Work – Formula E


Hi, I’m Nick Heidfeld, driving in the Formula E championship for Mahindra Racing. Today we are looking at driver safety. Welcome to Race School! In Formula E, we usually drive on street circuits, which actually makes it a little more dangerous, because there’s little room for error. Normally there are no run-off areas, it’s just a concrete wall. Safety obviously is important to us drivers and luckily also to the teams, and especially the FIA, who have pushed massively over the last couple of years. We have protection for side impact, so this not only looks cool, but actually it’s important for safety. Inside here we have a crash structure that helps in case of a side impact. The side walls here have come a lot higher compared to the past. If you look at racing maybe 10-15 years ago, the side walls were a lot lower. And that meant in the case of a side impact, you had a lot higher chances of having a bad injury. Similar to a road car, we have seat belts, but they are fixed at 6 points. 2 from the top, 2 from the sides and 2 come in from the front. And then of course we have the seat, which also helps in case of a crash, because it’s really fitted to your body shape, so you will move around a lot less, which helps for quick driving, because you’re kept in position. Another important thing that was introduced over the last couple of years, is that the seat can be taken out together with the driver, in case you have a really nasty accident and the doctors think you might have damaged something or broken something. They have an extraction team that is practicing a lot how to take you out without damaging anything. Also inside the cockpit, we have the headrest, which is here, and the leg protection in front, and it’s made out of a special material, which seems to be quite soft if you push it slowly, but in case of a quick impact, it really takes a lot of energy. On a normal race car with a normal combustion engine, through here we get some air for the engine and more power. In Formula E, with an electric engine, battery, it’s not necessary. But this is very important because it’s a roll hoop. So if you roll the car, and you take the line from here to this point at the front, your helmet and head should always be well below. So if you roll the car, you are safe. So there are a lot of things protecting us in case of a crash, but unfortunately it can happen from time to time, and usually if it’s a bigger one, and you see the wall coming towards you a bit too quick, what you naturally do and should do is take your hands off the steering wheel because if you touch the wall with the wheels first, it might be that the wheel turns around very quickly and can actually break something on your hands, so normally you take off your hands, put them in front of your chest. And also, naturally you start to tense your muscles, again to just protect your body. In many places where we can go off, there are barriers made with tyres, but actually nowadays we have TECPRO, which is designed to absorb the energy a lot better. So in most places where we arrive with high speed and there’s a high chance of an accident, we will have a TECPRO barrier. So in case you have an off or even a small crash, you have to decide yourself if it’s still safe to continue, to bring the car home and have it repaired or if it’s better to just stop. Sometimes it’s obvious that you cannot continue. And then you try to get out of the car in the safest way possible. Obviously it’s quite safe in there, so sometimes it’s better to have a look around. If there’s a lot of cars approaching, wait a few seconds and then get out quickly. By regulation, you have to put the steering wheel back on so that the marshals can move the car. Again, if there are wheels left on the car, it’s pointless to do that. A unique thing for Formula E and electric racing is the 3 lights in front. Hopefully they will always be green. If it’s red, it means the car is live, and if you go out of the car, you have to try and not touch the car and the floor at the same time. And if this shows a green light, that means the car is safe and you can easily and safely go out. This sounds very easy in theory, but for example, the big crash I had in Race 1 in Beijing, when I was upside down, I just realised afterwards that I didn’t check, so I just moved out, but luckily the car and the battery and casing are built in a very safe and strong way, so everything was fine. We have some G sensors in the car that measure the deceleration and acceleration, of course. And if those are quite high after a crash, a blue light will come on at the front, and this tells you that you must see the doctor at the circuit, and they will have a good look at you, and hopefully tell you that you’re okay to keep racing. We do a lot for safety, and we are working towards always making the cars and racing even more safe. I hope you enjoyed it and learned a little bit about it!

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17 thoughts on “Race School: How Race Car Safety Systems Work – Formula E

  1. His pronunciation sounds pretty funny if you think about the fact that he is doing motorsport for many years now πŸ˜›
    Greetings from Germany πŸ˜€

  2. I found this very interesting and informative. Thank you Formula E and Heidfield! πŸ‘πŸ‘ŠπŸ’―πŸ˜

  3. hey can you make a video about the difference of Formula E and Formula 1 Tyres and also is there a regulation on Formula E tyres? thank you, cheers!

  4. If you think crashing into a wall driving a formula E is bad emagin how it would feel like in an Indy car .

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