Why the F1 cares what underwear drivers wear

Since coming into the role as one half of Formula 1’s new race director line-up, Niels Wittich has clamped down on several seemingly innocuous regulations, including the barring of jewelery and wearing of FIA-approved undergarments when competing.

Ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, Wittich reminded drivers that the wearing of body piercings, metal chains and jewelery when racing was banned under the International Sporting Code.

What drivers wear under their suits while in the car was also raised, with all underwear, gloves, socks and balaclavas to be FIA ​​homologated.

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The FIA’s safety concerns around wearing such prohibited items in the event of an accident was widely considered a bizarre point to reinforce with the teams.

The jewels order almost exclusively impacts seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton as the only driver on the grid to wear jewellery.

Now, the inspecting of jewelery and undergarments will form a part of each team’s scrutineering submission ahead of a race weekend, coming into effect before the Miami Grand Prix.

The update to the scrutineering declaration form was confirmed in a document issued by Wittich on Thursday, with amendments including the addition of checks to ensure compliance.

While the onus will remain on the teams to ensure their drivers are co-operative with the rules, the FIA ​​will now have the power to complete random inspections.

The fire from former Haas driver Romain Grosjean’s horrifying accident at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix is ​​regularly cited as the kind of incident that proves the need for drivers to be in line with the regulations.

Wittich explained in the document how the wearing of jewelery underneath flameproof clothing “can reduce the protection afforded by this equipment” as “metallic objects, such as jewellery, in contact with the skin can reduce heat transmission protection and thus may increase the risk of burn injuries in the event of a fire”.

He also described how body piercings can “hinder medical interventions” due to the risk of snagging should the helmet, balaclava or overalls be removed.

“In the case that medical imaging is required to inform diagnosis following an accident the presence of jewelery on the body can cause significant complication and delay,” he wrote.

“In the worst case the presence of jewelery during imaging may cause further injury. Jewelery in and/or around the airway can pose specific additional risks should it become dislodged during an accident and either ingested or inhaled.”

On the wearing of circumspect undergarments, Wittich wrote: “The above noted regulation is written to ensure that the FIA-approved flame-resistant clothing, including both the outer layer overalls and inner layer in contact with the skin can operate effectively and provide the designed level of protection if exposed to flames.

“The use of non-flameproof materials in contact with the driver’s skin, and in particular synthetic materials, can reduce heat transmission protection and thus increase the risk of burn injuries in the event of a fire.

“In the worst case such materials may melt which can hinder treatment in the event of a burn injury.”

Practice for the Miami GP kicks off on Saturday morning AEST.

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