When is an earplug not just an earplug? When it is a Formula 1 earplug.
Much has been written about the tragic death of Jules Bianchi but this article will not be one of them, except to pick up on an intriguing and somewhat innocuous passage in the FIA report into the accident referring to earplugs and F1 driver safety.
Whilst it is true that many are seeking answers to the terrible incident in October last year with the populist band wagon consensus blaming the FIA, in the background it would appear that the apparently uncaring FIA has been quietly working on F1 driver safety and to understand the mechanisms of accidents and injury.
During the Race Director’s briefing back in March 2014 it was announced that, “This year each driver will have a three axis, in-ear accelerometer, fitted in each ear. This will give us information about exactly what is happening to a driver’s head in the event of an accident.This will be correlated with the high-speed video that we’re going to use in the onboard cameras. This is research being done by the FIA Institute in order to better understand the mechanisms of accidents”
There is no reference to, or suggestion, that the information gathered would be made available to the teams for performance related purposes. It is simply a measure to understand what happens to a driver and then pave the way for improvements to driver safety.
As with many things in life, they aren’t always what they appear on the surface, and in this case the humble earplug is more than that, it is a three-axis, in-ear accelerometer.
Time for more? Check out my blog on the British GP this month here!
Written by: John Mountney