Romain Grosjean crash, Bahrain International Circuit, 2020

Positive first test for new racing gloves developed after Grosjean crash

2021 F1 season

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The first real-world test of new gloves designed to improve fire protection for Formula 1 drivers yielded positive results last weekend.

Five F1 drivers tested the gloves which were developed following Romain Grosjean’s crash in Bahrain last year, in which he suffered burns to his hands.

The gloves were developed with multiple suppliers of protective race gear and trialled during Friday’s practice sessions at the Turkish Grand Prix.

“As a result of Romain’s incident, it was an area we started working on immediately,” said FIA F1 race director Michael Masi. “We identified very quickly that was an area that could be improved, together with the manufacturers.”

The test identified minor areas of potential improvement for the new glove designs, said Masi.

“The initial feedback from the drivers is all good. There’s a couple of little fine-tuning elements with a couple of the brands, but nothing insurmountable from that end. So we’re very grateful to the drivers and the teams involved to actually run them and it shows that we’re trying to increase those levels of protection as much as possible.”

The gloves are designed to reduce heat transfer to a drivers’ skin when exposed to direct heat. They are intended to provide around one-and-a-half seconds of extra protection compared to the previous design.

Ricciardo was one of the drivers who tested the gloves
“It sounds minimal,” said Masi, “but as we’ve seen in those types of scenarios, every tenth of a second, millisecond counts.”

The increased protection must be achieved while maintaining the dexterity required to operate the many buttons, switches and dials on complex Formula 1 steering wheels.

“We can’t completely change that side of it because they’ve got to have that level of feeling, particularly with something like their gloves with everything that they have to operate,” said Masi. “So that’s why we have this practical test to get their feedback in a real-life situation.”

Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo and George Russell were the drivers who participated. Mercedes and Ferrari are supplied with driver protective equipment by Puma, McLaren by Sparco, Aston Martin by Alpinestars and Williams by OMP.

The FIA’s head of competitor and road user safety Nuno Costa oversaw the project and monitored the trial in Istanbul last weekend. Afterwards Ricciardo said he could not tell a difference between the prototype gloves and his usual ones.

“I knew that I was going to use them but after the fact, I didn’t know I used them,” Ricciardo said. “So I’m trying to say that’s a good thing – I didn’t notice the difference.

“But I’m not very fussy with my kit and stuff, so I’m not that particular. But [it was] completely fine for me. It’s a nice addition without any downside, really.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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10 comments on “Positive first test for new racing gloves developed after Grosjean crash”

  1. The turnaround time of this is very impressive. Well done to the FIA and the suppliers.

    1. Mick Nicholson
      14th October 2021, 23:41

      Not sure about that. 1.5s doesn’t just sound minimal, it is minimal and doesn’t sound like it would make much difference to Grosjean’s injuries.

      1. According to FIA 8856-2018 it appears that the current expectation was 11 seconds, (if I’ve read it correctly) so 1.5s is a 13.6% increase, which seems like a decent improvement. I’m sure they could make them last a lot longer than that but they would probably be welding gloves rather than driving gloves.

  2. Great news. I still liked to hear what Lewis, Seb, Carlos, and George said about this.

  3. I’m so used to the word “positive” being Covid19-related that I instinctively interpreted this news as some kind of bad news

    1. You know, I too immediately associated this with some sort of transference of covid-19 linked to gloves – now positively confirmed. But then I don’t read well. :)

  4. Good progress. But I was also surprised with the extent of his burns, for some reason believing that racing gloves used in 2021 in F1 would easily, yes easily come thru the fire in 30secs or whatever time it took for Grojean to get out. Now automatically worried about the level of testing and much needed upgrade for the entire outfit – racing suit, shoes. Seemed to work this last time for Grojean, but how tested is the whole kit really?

    1. Fire suit is good, the gloves were the issue, because of dexterity and grip required they were not that protective.

      Also fire proof overals originate from times where protecting drivers life was the primary goal.

      Now protecting from injury is the new standard.

  5. The question must be why the old gloves weren’t tested and found wanting.

    Seeing how well the rest of the body is covered, it almost seems like neglect, yet no criticism for that, just praise for changing it now after a guy got burned?

    Reply moderated
  6. Looking back at that horrible crash, I’m gonna say this out loud…Racing Incident 100%.

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