Modern Formula 1 Car’s Braking Forces So Brutal It’ll Extract Tears From Your Eyes, Report Says
Drivers also reportedly lose 40 percent of their brain function over the length of a Grand Prix.
Many people would sell their organs just for a chance to drive a Formula 1 car, but according to an anonymous official inside Mercedes-AMG F1, their remaining guts could be crushed by the monumental forces that F1 cars can generate.
"The G-forces are so extreme that their organs are constantly being squished, and in Melbourne this year, at the end of the straight, Lewis [Hamilton] was telling me that it was pulling the tears out of his tear ducts and he could see them splashing on to his visor under braking," a team official reportedly told Australia's The Sunday Morning Herald.
Braking and acceleration aren't the only sources of extreme forces in F1 cars; cornering can sometimes put drivers through nearly 8 Gs of lateral acceleration. Fighter pilots endure similar forces, but those are usually vertical Gs, where G-suits can prevent the loss of blood flow to their brains. F1 drivers have only their necks to hold their ten-pound heads upright, and in an 8-G corner, their heads can have effective weights of 88 pounds—the average weight of a 12-year-old.
"When he first came to F1 racing, back in 2007, Lewis had a 14-inch collar size, today he’s got an 18-inch collar," the Mercedes official added. "And that's typical of all drivers these days, their necks just go straight down from their jaw lines, and they really have to train those muscles to do the job."
Former F1 driver Fernando Alonso often exemplifies this neck strength with a party trick that has become a fan favorite—he can crush a walnut between the side of his head and shoulder.
These are only some of what F1 drivers must endure during a Grand Prix, too. Over the usual 90-plus minutes of racing, they sweat out almost nine pounds in body fluids thanks in part to dangerously high cockpit temperatures, often north of 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Over the length of the race, this results in a 40 percent decrease in brain function, which is critical when you're driving at speeds over 220 mph. This also means that when it's time to wave the checkered flag, drivers are so weak that F1 has rules about how heavy trophies can be.
Topping it all off is the fact that some drivers further worsen conditions for themselves in the name of winning. Championship leader Hamilton drives without seat padding to feel what the car's doing, even though this means the car's big hybrid battery—mounted under his seat—scorches his behind for over an hour at a time.
Of course, these drivers all are willing to give up more than comfort to win. No matter how safe we try to make racing, people can and do still die, but drivers admit they're willing to pay with their lives if it means a shot at victory everlasting.