Driver’s clothing has a very important part to play in Formula 1 – it offers the drivers great protection against the risk of fire. Fires are becoming rarer in Formula 1, however they are still an integral part of the safety equipment that all teams use. Overalls, boots and gloves are all made from special fire proof materials that ensure that if the driver does become trapped in a burning car, he will be protected until the flames can be extinguished. The overalls are multi-layered and are made of a type of aramid fibres. Aramid fibres, apart from having low flammability, have no melting point and they hold the fabric integrity well at elevated temperatures, making them the perfect material for fire-resistant clothing. The overalls are made as light as possible. They also allow the driver’s skin to ‘breathe’ to allow the sweat from the driver to escape during the race. Patches with corporate and sponsor logos are made of the same material and the threads used to sew the patches on are also made from aramid fibres.
There is a handle located on each shoulder of the overalls. FIA regulations state that in event of a crash, the driver can be removed from the car whilst still strapped into his seat to minimise his injuries. The handles on the overalls are strong enough to ensure that marshals will be able to pull the driver out with his seat by the handles alone.
The gloves are made as thin as possible so that the driver has the most amount of feel and grip on the steering wheel. The soles on racing boots are thinner than ordinary shoes to allow the driver to feel the pedals of the car easily. Again, both gloves and boots will be made of a fireproof material.
Drivers will also wear flameproof underwear underneath their overalls and helmet to increase safety margins.