G-Forces in F1 (Explained in Simple Terms

Driving an F1 car may not seem any more physically stressful than driving a car on the road for two hours without a break, but the reality is quite different

A Formula 1 driver puts extreme stress on his body while racing, and high cornering speeds mean that F1 drivers are subjected to huge G-forces

The G-force caused by rapid acceleration and fast cornering in an F1 car can make a driver feel as if they weigh up to 6 times their normal weight

A driver must be in peak physical condition to cope with the stress their bodies are subjected to during a 15 to 2 hour race

It’s hard to understand how much g-force affects a driver in F1, because it’s like being on a roller coaster, only much more stressful

Turning at speeds up to 190 mph pushes the driver’s internal organs around and blood pressure fluctuates wildly

What are G-forces? How many G’s does an F1 driver feel? Is driving an F1 car like flying a fighter jet? How do F1 drivers prepare for G-forces? F1 corners with the highest G-forces4 F1 crashes with the highest G-Forces Final Thoughts

G-forces are what we experience when we are accelerated or decelerated in a given direction, expressed in multiples of Earth’s gravitational force or “g” F1 drivers experience these multiples when accelerating or braking, and especially at high cornering speeds

Moving forward or backward, and side to side, lateral force or lateral g, is where you can feel the effect of additional force through acceleration/deceleration or side to side movement

For an F1 driver, the fear of floating is negligible most of the time, so it’s the lateral g’s that really stress the driver’s body

When it comes to lateral g, the speed at which you travel has a huge impact

As long as you’re on the ground, you’ll usually only experience 1 g, but if you’re flying around a track at 200 mph, the lateral g’s can be huge

Accelerating quickly like putting your foot down in an F1 car will increase the feeling of force, as will cornering at high speeds, as well as going from high speed to a dead stop as the driver will do when crashing

Knowing how speed affects the G’s an F1 driver feels greatly helps designers

How much G does an F1 driver feel?

F1 drivers can feel all the weight up to 65g during hard braking or cornering at high speed

During a high-speed crash, an F1 driver can be exposed to 50g or more at the point of impact

The amount of force a driver feels depends on several factors, the most important being whether he is accelerating or decelerating

When it comes to cornering, the angle of the curve is also taken into account, as the faster the driver can enter the curve and the shape of the curve affects the forces the driver feels

Another aspect of g-force we need to consider is the length of time the driver feels the effects

Although a person can survive short bursts of over 100g, such as in a crash, that amount of force for more than a few seconds can be fatal

Going down a sharp corner at 120-180 mph can exert between 4-65g of force on the driver’s body, making it feel like it’s being crushed in a vise

Depending on the conditions and the proximity of other cars which may mean the driver is slowing down, the turn may be 2g in one corner, then 4 or 5g in another

And considering the number of corners each lap has, and the number of laps a driver is expected to cover during the entire race, the physical punishment a driver takes in a two-hour race is staggering

Mentally exhausting and physically devastating, F1 racing takes everything a driver can give

Aside from feeling like you’ve left your stomach about half a mile down the racetrack, the g-forces felt by the driver at maximum acceleration are about 2g

Acceleration is one of the more delicate parts of F1 racing, oddly enough, given that F1 is all about speed

As the car increases speed, the forces increase in tandem with the acceleration, until the driver reaches the maximum speed they can achieve, or is forced to apply the brakes

When braking, an F1 car can easily hit 5g, and given how many times in a race the driver has to brake to corner or avoid other cars, the driver will feel like he’s been squashed for two full hours

When a car’s brakes are at their peak, the driver can come to a stop very quickly, causing their internal organs to feel like they’ve been pushed out of their chest

An F1 car can accelerate from 0-60 in 24 seconds, reach 125 mph in about 4 seconds, and then slow to a dead stop within 215 feet, and this rapid increase and decrease in lateral speed increases the g-s felt by the driver dramatically

Fortunately, there are many ways a driver can train to deal with this stress, but one thing a driver can’t train for when it comes to g-force is falling

Going from 200 mph to a near stop thanks to braking is one thing, and the feeling of 5g is expected and prepared for, but going from 200 mph to zero due to a crash is quite another

A crashing F1 car can see g-forces between 50 and 100g, which is just as bad as it sounds

Is driving an F1 car like flying a fighter jet?

Driving an F1 car does not have the same level of g-force as flying a fighter jet

However, fighter pilots are more equipped to deal with the extreme forces involved in flight and do not experience high Gs often or for long periods of time

There are inevitable comparisons between flying a fighter jet and driving an F1 car, both go at incredible speeds, both offer inherent dangers and the g-forces involved are always out of this world

With maximum g-forces recorded as high as 65-7g on a racetrack, and around 9-10g in a MiG-35 or Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jet, both pilots and drivers suffer serious penalties

There are key differences, however, as a jet pilot will wear a G-suit, which inflates to combat the effects when the pilot goes through maneuvers that will cause extreme G-forces

An F1 driver does not have that luxury and although the forces felt in an F1 car are less than those felt in a fighter jet, they are felt more often, albeit for shorter periods of time

Both fighter pilots and Formula 1 drivers are known for their penchant for speed, although in this comparison the pilot again comes out on top

The top speed of an F1 car is around 215 mph, which is ridiculously fast

The fighter jet can reach speeds of up to Mach 18 (you know something is fast when it has to have a brand new speed unit) which equates to a speed of around 1190 mph

At speeds of over 1,000 mph, a spinning fighter jet can exert up to 9 g of force, making an F1 car look like a spinning ice cream truck

At the end of the day, both roles are extremely dangerous and incredibly difficult to master, but they’re such different roles that it’s hard to be harsh on either in a direct comparison

A Formula 1 driver may struggle to cope with the increase in g’s that he would experience in a jet, but a pilot may find that he cannot handle the reaction times required if he were to race in an F1 car

Both F1 drivers and flying fighter jets are the absolute pinnacle of their professions, and both require focus, athleticism and dedication

F1 drivers must undergo extreme fitness regimes and focus on breathing exercises to prepare for the g-forces they will experience during the race

With an emphasis on neck and chest muscles, F1 drivers can maintain concentration and navigate complex corners under high g-forces

It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that a motorsport driver can be as incompetent as they want because the car does all the hard work for them

The reality, however, is quite different, as an F1 driver must maintain a level of fitness that most people would consider extreme

Rigorous training allows an F1 driver to withstand the incredible g-forces that racing can create

Strong neck muscles are essential if a rider is to stay focused on the race while cornering at breakneck speeds, and much of the work is done on the trapezius muscles to increase neck strength

Lateral resistance training with the help of a neck belt allows the driver to prepare for the g-forces of cornering at speed

Weight training, running and many other exercises are necessary to build muscle strength

It’s a fine line though, the driver should try to keep the weight reasonable because the heavier he is, the heavier the car will be for him

Some riders train their shoulder and neck muscles by wearing a helmet that is attached to pulleys, which pull their head in different directions, forcing them to tense and condition the muscles

A driver will spend a large portion of their daily practice lifting the neck, and this low-tech but effective training method has proven to be excellent for preparing the driver for the effects of g-forces

A low center of gravity helps keep the car aerodynamic, and the same goes for the driver, so building key muscles like chest and neck is important, but so is good nutrition and healthy living

The higher the g-force on the driver, the harder it is to breathe properly, so making sure the driver is well trained means they can better cope with the potential 6g in corners

Running, cycling and other cardiovascular exercises give drivers regulated breathing and a steady heart rate and help them go through every burst of acceleration and every corner a little easier

Aiming for a heart rate of 140-170 beats per minute during practice means that the race rider is used to having a slightly elevated heart rate

The preparations the driver makes and the exercises they do every day turn what seems like a weekend job into a full-time job

F1 angles with the highest g-forces are:

F1 angles with the highest g-forces are:

The longer a driver spends cornering, the longer they have to endure the effects of g-forces of up to 6g, which often break bones

The Australian Grand Prix has some great corners that test the driver to the limit

Turns one and eleven are capable of exerting between 6g and 65g, and with 58 laps in the two-hour race, the driver must be ready for action as they race around the track

High G-Force track

The high-speed, fast-turning track is expected to have over 5g of force on multiple corners

This means drivers have much less time to recover before hitting another corner that pushes their bodies to the limit

Several corners are curved, which will put not only lateral forces on the drivers, but also vertical g’s as the car pushes down as well as sideways

Drivers will literally have to drive while feeling like they are being folded up and put in a shoebox!

4 F1 falls with the highest G-forces

1 Jules Bianchi, Japanese Grand Prix 2014 – 254 G

In a truly dark day for F1, driver Jules Bianchi crashed into a tractor that was in the process of removing Adrian Sutil’s crashed car at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix

The estimated g-force from this truly heartbreaking crash was around 254g

2 Roman Grosjean, Bahrain Grand Prix 2020 – 67 G

During the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean ended up hitting the wall at a freak angle of 67g before his car split in two and exploded in a horrific crash

Fortunately, Grosjean survived the crash with only second-degree burns to both hands and an injury to his leg – a lucky escape after sitting in his burning car for some time

3 Max Verstappen, British Grand Prix 2021 – 51 G

Max Verstappen has scored 9 points at the 2021 British Grand Prix, desperate for championship points to keep pace with Lewis Hamilton

After a collision with Hamilton at Copse corner, Verstappen’s Red Bull car hit the wall at 51 g

4 Fernando Alonso, Australian Grand Prix 2016 – 46 G

In 2016, Spanish driver Fernando Alonso crashed at the Australian Grand Prix

It sustained an eye-watering 46g and barely hit the wall – it was just that the force of the car’s spin produced so much force

Driving in Formula 1 is incredibly demanding, and spectators rarely get the feeling that a driver can be crushed by g-forces that make him feel 6 times his weight in a corner

This constant battle with high g-forces is why drivers have to be so fit and look so exhausted after a race

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