What is an F1 seat made of and what position do the drivers sit in the cockpit of their cars? How is it moulded to them?
The layout and comfort in the cockpit of a Formula 1 car is essential to helping a driver perform to their best.
Everything needs a snug, tight feel to ensure a driver feels secure and can go about getting around the lap as quick as they can.
This makes the seat all the more important for drivers – but how do they actually sit in the cockpit.
How is their race seat moulded to their body?
How F1 drivers sit
Once they’ve got into the cockpit, a six-point seatbelt is buckled up by a mechanic.
It involves shoulder and waist straps all converging into a central buckle to secure the driver and can be released by pressing the buckle.
F1 drivers sit on the floor of the car, surrounded by electrical gubbins and the fuel tank located behind them in what is known as the ‘survival cell.’
It is designed to break away in high force impact and protect the driver at all costs – as was the case in Romain Grosjean’s fiery 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix accident.
In the event a driver needs to be extracted from their car in case of neck or back injuries, they can be hoisted out through straps on the side of the seat.
From their position sitting on the deck, F1 drivers are unable to see their own front wing or front of the car.
To get an estimate of how F1 drivers sit in the car, the best thing to do is to sit in a bathtub with your feet on the taps.
How is their seat moulded?
Prior to the start of every season, a driver will visit the team for a seat fitting.
This is to ensure the seat is as comfortable as possible and there are no pressure points being created on the shoulder or back.
A seat fitting also involves items such as steering rack and pedals to ensure a driver is happy with the layout of their cockpit.
To mould a seat, teams have drivers sit on a plastic bag filled with foam placed in the cockpit.
The foam will mould to the driver’s body shape.
From this, a team will trim and finese the shell to a seat made out of carbon fibre.
Pieces of foam can then be added as a driver sees fit to get the optimum position they need.
The seat fitting process can be seen in the video below from Valtteri Bottas’s 2021 fitting in the Mercedes W12.
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