Formula 1 is about to kick off the 2018 season with its first Grand Prix in Melbourne, Australia, on the 25th of March, with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton taking pole position.
Red Bulls Max Verstappen, known as the flying Dutchman, is set to put the pressure on rival teams by upping the pace. Keen to become the youngest ever world champion driver, he is just behind Lewis Hamilton on the starting line-up.
Anger is boiling over as Lewis Hamilton complained that nothing had changed in the 11 years he had been in F1. He claimed there was a lack of diversity and said more should be done to encourage participation from a wider range of ethnic backgrounds. He is the only black driver on the grid and claimed that F1 remained the most homogenous sport in ethnic terms.
In the 68 years of the World Championship, there have only been five women entered in a Grand Prix as opposed to 822 men, so why is F1 a man’s sport? Aspiration could be a reason; it is also argued that strength could be an issue. Although a strong neck and upper body muscles are required, endurance training rather than weight training is the key. There has only been one female to score championship points, and that was way back in 1975.
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The drivers have to endure high G-forces at extremely high temperatures, and they often lose close to 4kg in weight during each race. The temperature can reach 50 C or more in the cockpit – a hot stuffy confined space. The drivers are tightly dressed in layers of fireproof Nomex, and physical fitness is seriously put to the test.
F1 helmets have to withstand strict impact tests set by the FIA. Mostly made of carbon fibre and Kevlar, they can withstand temperatures of up to 800 C and are extremely lightweight. Although the designs rarely change, all the F1 drivers have them custom-made using 3D head-scan technology. A driver can go through 8 to 12 helmets per season, depending on the total test mileage covered. The colours are all individual, with some drivers sporting their national flag or advertising logos.