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“The G Forces nearly ripped my head off” – a ride in a 2 seater F1 car
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“The G Forces nearly ripped my head off” – a ride in a 2 seater F1 car
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Oct 2010   |  8:08 am GMT  |  26 comments

This is the final part of the programme undertaken by a group of media and fans recently at the Yas Marina Circuit to understand what it takes to be an F1 driver.


Having gone through a series of mental and physical tests and passed up through the ranks, driving everything from go karts to F3000 cars, the final stage of the two day programme was to go out in the 2 seater F1 car to experience the g forces, acceleration and braking for real.

The acceleration is cool, but anyone who has driven a really high performance motorbike will have experienced something similar. What is unique about F1 cars is the braking and the cornering G forces. As you can see from the film, they fling your head around like a rag doll’s. You feel like the G forces are going to rip your head off and the helmet doesn’t help as it moves around. You have to make sure the strap is really tight.

“I wish everyone could get a chance to do this because you see and learn so much more than you ever can from watching the TV,” said BBC presenter Jake Humphrey. “To sit the car with the legends, like the Alesis and Herberts, I’ve learned so much and I thought I knew a lot about the sport before.”

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26 Comments
  1. Red5 says:

    Looks fantastic.

    Can this be repeated at Monaco?

    1. henry says:

      I think it is highly unlikely that anything along these lines could ever take place at monaco. just think that someone would have to fork out the cost of putting the circuit in place, etc, also would you really want aanyone short of professionals in high performance cars racing on a circuit with no run off areas, with tight hard barriers on all sides?

  2. Ben G says:

    Nice film. I was lucky enough to do something similar at the Hungaroring. But I’m ashamed to say that after just half a lap I secretly wished there was an emergency stop button. And that was in a 93 Larrouse, so I’m impressed you lasted 2 laps in a much more recent car.

  3. Pam Osburne says:

    Wow, wow, wow!! What an unbelievable experience that must have been, even if it looked torurous!! I’d happily cut my arm off to try it though! One question, did you use a HANS device, and did it help at all?(Sorry that’s kinda two questions!)Well done,btw!!

    1. def says:

      I thought the purpose of the HANS device was to prevent extreme flexion of the neck only in the event of a high impact crash.

  4. Dan says:

    James, how do the downforce levels on the two seater compare to current F1 cars? The wings look quite small and basic in comparison…

  5. Andy C says:

    Looks excellent.

    James,

    was this Yas Marinas event a 1 off, or do they do experiences you can attend (if paying)..

    Assume that they have the fleet of cars that they must do…

    How about a JA/Yas Marinas christmas competition :-)

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, they gave a school there where you can drive these things. Would be great to tie it in with Ferrari world on a holiday.

  6. For Sure says:

    I am not sure how much racing experience you had James but I wander if you don’t feel scare at all?
    I just bought this Tony Kart with IAME KF2 engine which is quite scary and I am now trying to get used to the power.

    So to me, anything faster than that must be even more scary.

  7. Galapago555 says:

    Similar acceleration in Moto GP and F1, but big differences on braking and speed on corners. There you have the 20-25 sec distance per lap of a F1 car over a GP bike on an average circuit.

    1. Jim says:

      There’s a video on YouTube of a drag race between a MotoGP bike and F1 car. I can’t remember the date, but the F1 driver was Jenson Button in a Honda. And I can’t search for the clip from work ;-)

      When they got the car working properly it was pretty much even between the bike and the car up to 100mph, at which point JB put his foot down and took off! The commentary explains that an F1 car can’t get all of its power down until the aerodynamics are fully in play.

      1. allen says:

        That was Michael Rutter aboard his BSB Honda Fireblade. There wasn’t any way that bike was going to win that drag race – Rutter said so beforehand – because Jenson’s F1 car had a superior power to weight ratio.

  8. tank says:

    Laughed with incredulity, watching bruno’s rock-steady helmet, with the “ordinary guys’” helmets moving around pretty much out of control.

    Simply amazing is an F1 driver’s strength relative to his size. Pull G’s like that, drive 70 odd laps around a circuit like Monaco without crashing, sometimes in the rain… Super-human.

    1. Galapago555 says:

      Totally agree, mate. This brings an off topic point to discuss: who are the best (= most complete) athletes in the world? Probably, F1 drivers, aren’t they? Or maybe WRC drivers, who drive for many hours a day in actually extreme conditions… Not to talk about top triathlon competitors, pro ice hockey or american football players…

      I think that if you consider a mix of all relevant factors (speed, endurance, strength, reflexes, etc.), you should chose F1 drivers as the top athletes in the world.

      1. henry says:

        In terms of fitness (heart beat efficiency), and muscular control, I have been told by physiotherapists that bi-athletes (cross country skiing and rifle shooting) require the greatest control…the cross country skiing uses more of the major muscle groups than nearly any other sport, raises the heart rate higher than most, and then both the muscles and the heart rate have to be relaxed, reduced, to perfect stillness in order to shoot accurately. but any comparison between sports must really depend upon which criteria you choose to form the ‘most complete’ athletes in sport. Motor sport drivers do require a mental awareness and endurance that many sports do not. In fact, I can’t think of a sport which really requires more multitasking and intense mental concentration, while placing such physical strain on the sportsman.

  9. JohnBt says:

    Sure feels like some uncontrolled head banging ritual. Looks real scary!

    1. henry says:

      my neck hurts just looking at it! Now we know why the back of the driver’s seat is so much on top of the passenger – to give him something to hit his head on!

  10. Mike says:

    James this is really a fantastic series.
    Oh to be so lucky!
    Keep up the good work, it keeps us a little closer to the action.

  11. Dave says:

    exellent feature, well filmed and put together

  12. Merk says:

    I was in one too a few years ago and the problem is, you can’t prepare yourself for a corner because you don’t see it. That is why your neck gets thrown around.

    The driver knows when he is gonna brake and reacts to it with his body, while you as a passenger will be just a ragdoll with no clue to what’s coming.

    Was fun though!

    1. Frenchie says:

      Great point Merk.

      James / Neil:
      I would imagine that after a couple of days at the track you would have known the layout inside out. Were you able to anticipate the corner or did this just take you by surprise?

  13. Andrew Webb says:

    Wow, just goes to show that many of the Sports figures such as BBC’s Jake and yourself James took part in this.
    I mean, must be torture for the big Guns in the Sport to do this for a living and for you to do this gives the insight into the F1 world which former colleague Martin Brundle and BBC’s David Coulthard once did for a living and how the famous drivers such as Alesi, Prost, and A.Senna also did.
    Still, looks impressive and I think that it should be offered for many normal fans…some who think they know about the Sport to show what really goes on.

  14. MonzaOne says:

    A tremendous experience indeed.

    But its like anything – compared to those who do something regularly or professionally, it takes time.

    I remember 1979 world champion Jody Scheckter relating his shock during his first ever laps in an f1 car at Watkins Glen in practice in 1972.

  15. Racyboy says:

    My heart would be belting as I was being strapped in…it does look great, but it must be a bit frustrating not being able to see where your going.
    James,
    Just wondering, could you feel your innards moving around? I’ve heard that the G’s under braking want to pull your eyes out….and what kind of times were you guys doing, with an extra 90kgs or so?

    Great series, thanks for sharing.

  16. lebesset says:

    many , many years ago I was given a demonstration ride by a top rally driver and thought that stressful

    but I cannot begin to imagine what this must be like !

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