Innovation in F1 is not limited to new technology on the cars or in communications devices, it even extends to the clothing worn by mechanics in the pit lane. And this weekend in the heat of Malaysia it should come into its own.
A new material developed from high-tech sportswear used by top tennis stars and other athletes is now helping to keep race mechanics cool and less tired when working in the pit lane in intense temperatures.
Human Performance Engineering, a company set up by Nick Harris, the man who trained top drivers like Mark Webber, David Coulthard and Nico Hulkenberg, discovered that team shirts made from the anti-microbial Freshfit material helped mechanics to stay sharper for longer, particularly in hot places like Malaysia this weekend. It uses a moisture management system to reduce fluid loss and maintain body temperature, which helps athletes to maintain performance over long periods and works in a similar way for mechanics.
“They conserve energy because they sweat less,” says Harris. “This means less fatigue and loss of concentration.”
Although the Melbourne race weekend took place in cool temperatures, the Caterham team, which is using HPE team gear this season, had a chance to feel the effect while setting up during the end of the Melbourne heatwave, which lasted until the Wednesday before the race. Temperatures in the pit lane on Monday hit 38 degrees and the mechanics reported a “significant” difference from previous team gear, which was made of material similar to football shirts, as most F1 teams use.
“They reported that they didn’t feel as tired at the end of the day and they noticed that they didn’t sweat as much,” says Harris.
The real test will come this weekend in Malaysia where temperatures of 35 degrees are combined with humidity as high as 80%.
For more information: www.hpeclothing.com