Carbon Fiber and Kevlar safety cell: R. Kubica’s survival 

Written by David on June 12th, 2007 at 3:00 amLast Update: June 02nd, 2008 at 6:36 pm

Robert Kubica Canada GP 2007 crash Saved by Carbon Fiber and Kevlar Safety CellLet’s analyze Formula One’s secrets: construction techniques and crash test rigorousness imposed by F1 Federation, allowed Bmw’s driver Robert Kubica to walk away unharmed from Montreal’s terrific crash.

With which material a safety cell is made?
It’s made of carbon fiber, like the chassis. Its sides have deformable structures and anti intrusion panels made of Kevlar in order to avoid breakthrough if a 90° collision with another car happens. Inside it’s wrapped with energy absorbing panels in order to mitigate the potential hits; these panels have minimal sizes so that adequate space for the driver is granted.

What crash tests a safety cell has to pass?
Every chassis must be approved and has to pass several crash tests in FIA’ s laboratories: head, front, back and side protection roll bar. Every test result is inserted in the safety cell using a microchip that acts as an ID for each Grand Prix verification process. Every structural modification involves the repeat of the specific crash test.

Formula One F1 Formula 1 Safety Cell

What is and which is HANS’ function?
It is a kind of collar that limits a Whiplash. Introduced in 2003, saved so far Ralf Schumacher in 2004 in Indianapolis Grand Prix and Robert Kubica in Montreal’s Grand Prix.

Formula One HANS Collar

Why, even with HANS, the driver’s head was still shaking?
The collar doesn’t have to block completely the driver’s head otherwise would be fatal. HANS has been tested in lab with a simulated deceleration of 45G (above 100 km/h): head’s movement in front goes from 19 cm (without HANS) to only 8,3 cm avoiding hitting the steering wheel with a deceleration from 107G to 62G. Driver’s neck horizontal tension goes from 507 to only 95KG. Max value beyond which damage is sustained is 335KG.

Robert Kubica’s terrific crash at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix

Would Ratzenberger, Villeneuve or Senna be still alive with today’s safety cells?
In Ratzenberger’s and Villenueve’s crash the answer is yes but in Senna’s case is different. William’s safety cell had perfectly resisted but during the wall impact (even if much less violent than Kubica’s crash) part of the front suspension broke and stuck on Senna’s helmet like a sword.

Why during Kubica’s wall crash the chassis lost the front part?
Kubica’s incident has evidenced one gap on crash tests. The front part which acts as a deformable structure, according to FIA’s crash test has to pass a frontal and a side collision, while Kubica’s BMW literally took off and landed with the front with a vertical force that detached it completely. FIA should insert a crash test for vertical collision.

Robert Kubica Canada GP 2007 crash front

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