Car construction and Crash testing

What the technical regulations say:

  • The construction of Formula One cars and the materials used are strictly controlled by the regulations to maximise their safety.
  • The main structure of the car comprises a safety cell which contains the cockpit plus the flexible fuel cell, which is housed immediately behind (but separated from) the driver.
  • This safety cell must meet minimum size requirements and must have an impact-absorbing structure immediately in front of it. The design of the car must also include additional impact-absorbing structures at the rear, behind the gearbox, and on the flanks of the car.
  • Both sides of the survival cell feature anti-intrusion panels made from Zylon. These extend upwards from the bottom of the chassis to the rim of the cockpit and alongside the driver’s head.
  • The car must have two roll structures to protect the driver in the event of the car overturning. The main structure must be immediately behind the driver’s head, while the secondary structure – commonly known as the halo – surrounds the cockpit.
  • The car and its survival cell must pass several strict impact, roll and static load tests before it is allowed to take to the track. The tests must be carried out under FIA guidelines and in the presence of an FIA technical delegate.
  • Front, side and rear impact tests focus on the car’s survival cell, which must be left undamaged by the impacts. All structural damage must be limited to the car’s impact absorbing structures, for example, the sidepods, the nose etc.
  • The car’s steering column must also pass an impact test, which simulates the unlikely event of a driver’s head striking the steering wheel. The column itself must deform to absorb the majority of the impact and the wheel’s quick release mechanism must not be damaged.
  • In addition to impact tests, the survival cell that houses the driver must also pass static load tests to ensure that the structure of the car meets minimum strength requirements.
  • The areas subject to static load testing include the fuel tank floor, the cockpit floor, the cockpit rim, the cockpit sides, the nose, the side impact structure and the rear impact structure.