Formula 1 is one of the most dangerous sports in the world. With high-speed vehicles and collisions common, having the right safety features in place is vital to not only protect the drivers but also the crowds watching from the sidelines.
Safety measures were increased in the sport in the 1960s and 70s after a series of high-profile crashes. The most famous of these was Jackie Stewart’s accident in 1966, where he hit a wall at 150mph during the Belgian Grand Prix.
Safety barriers were campaigned for – and got. Today, they are a core part of the safety strategy that organisers have implemented to reduce injuries and fatalities in F1. And the most common choice of safety barrier in F1 is Armco barriers.
Why Armco was chosen for F1 barriers?
From the late 1960s. crash barriers were being installed at F1 tracks across the world. And it was Armco safety barriers that won the contract for many of these installations.
While the original US company has changed, many Armco beams are still being used in F1.
Armco F1 barriers help distribute the energy on impact. When a car collides head on with a barrier, the Armco barriers bend and flex, allowing the energy to disperse along the length of the barrier.
If a F1 car simply catches the barrier when driving alongside it, the vehicle is essentially pushed alongside the barrier. This prevents them from flipping or being pushed back into the stream of oncoming cars.
This is important in F1 as many drivers tick to a tight driving line that often come perilously close to the barriers.
Do all F1 tracks have Armco barriers?
Not all F1 tracks use Armco barriers, but they are the most common choice of safety barrier. All F1 tracks do implement some form of safety barrier today, though. This wasn’t always the case, with F1 tracks in the 1950s and 60s having little safety measures.
Other f1 barrier types are also used today such as hay bales, water barrels, run off areas and concrete barriers. These types of F1 safety measures are often used in tandem with Armco barriers.
How do Armco safety barriers affect F1 racing
The introduction of Armco safety barriers in F1 has had an impact on racing. The biggest impact has been the increase in safety and reduction of injuries to drivers and spectators.
It has also impacted the way drivers negotiate the track. With the barriers in place, the drivers are able to take more risks and get closer to corners in the knowledge that – should they lose control or crash – the Armco barriers will hopefully prevent a massive crash.
Using Armco crash barriers in different combinations in F1 has also changed how courses look. Whether that’s the change in racing line or simply the look of the barriers themselves.
The use of Armco F1 barriers was a massive step forward in the safety of the sport. When combined with the additional in car safety technology, F1 has become safer than ever. Armco barriers also have changed the way F1 drivers negotiate the tracks.