During the drivers’ briefing, which lasted more than two hours on Friday night at Albert Park, FIA race director Niels Wittich explained that action would be taken on the undergarments worn by drivers for under their racing suits.
There is concern that some members of the grid have been wearing underwear that does not comply with the FIA regulations, which are in place to protect them in the event of a fire.
Appendix L of the FIA International Sporting Code states that drivers must wear gloves, long underwear, a balaclava (balaclava), socks and boots homologated according to the rules of the governing body.
Wittich has applied these elements of the regulations most strictly since taking over as F1’s race director earlier this year. Before the Australian Grand Prix, he reminded the drivers in the event notes that the wearing of jewelery in the car was not allowed due to concerns about the safety and removal of their vehicles in the event of an incident.
During the meeting, it was leaked that there was some rejection on the part of the pilots to the restriction of the underwear they use. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner even said it had been an “entertaining briefing for the drivers”.
But the main concern is the impact that the use of a synthetic material under the racing suit can have in the event of a fire, such as the one that left Romain Grosjean with burns on his hands after crashing at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.
The FIA is going to be more proactive in ensuring that drivers wear flame retardant underwear in accordance with the regulations, with random checks, but it seems that there will be an exception period in the next races without penalties being imposed.
At the 2018 Formula E race in Punta del Este, Audi driver Lucas di Grassi was fined €10,000 for wearing underwear that did not comply with the International Sporting Code. Techeetah drivers Andre Lotterer and Jean-Eric Vergne were similarly fined at the electric class race in New York that same year.