April 12 2003
This Allianz article gives you an idea of the lengths that Formula One teams go to in order to allow their drivers and team members work in the noisy world of F1. Drivers use special ear plugs while team members use head phones in order to deal with this noisy environment..
sitting in one of the world’s loudest workplaces needs good nerves – and
high-tech support. Formula 1 drivers use special earplugs and helmets to
suppress noise levels in the cockpit. There may be noise emission limits for
passenger cars, but there are none for an F1 car. The following tenet has
been valid in the development of passenger cars for some time now: they have
to be as quiet as possible.
When Formula 1 comes to Imola it is like being hit by an earthquake. Only a few metres away from the race circuit, thousands of fans cling to the slopes in front of the Rivazza corner to watch the San Marino Grand Prix. They will have paid out several hundred euros to spend a weekend on one of the loudest corners in the world. It is not only the unmistakable sound of the highly developed engines, but also their combined ear-piercing blare at more than 19,000 rpm, which makes the Formula 1 circus so fascinating. However, many spectators choose to protect themselves against the noise. They resort to perhaps uncomfortable, but tried-and-tested aids – they use earplugs.
|Graphic courtesy of Allianz Click on image for larger version|
There is a good
reason for this: up to 130 decibels are measured on Formula 1 circuits –
this is exactly to the same sound intensity that one would hear standing 100
metres away from an aircraft’s jet engine. Even the stands, which are
positioned slightly further back, record up to 100 decibels. By way of a
comparison: in many countries, industrial safety regulations require hearing
protection to be worn beginning from 85 decibels and above. However, these
laws assume that the worker will be subject to these noise levels for
several hours at a time.
An earpiece is also fitted into the
earplugs, which enables the driver to hear team announcements. This ‘ear
button’ helps to provide a better sound quality than that of the previous
radio communication devices which were only mounted into a driver’s helmet.
By contrast, the latest high-tech helmets are equipped with microphones
which suppress distant noise and boost sound that is generated close to the
microphone. Thanks to these helmet designs, it has also been possible to
reduce the noise levels that drivers have to contend with down to 98