Stewart, Lear Corp Champion Driver Safety

Stewart Grand Prix, Lear Corporation Champion F-1 Driver Safety MONTREAL, June 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Three-time Formula One (F-1) World Champion and long-time safety advocate Jackie Stewart shared...

Stewart Grand Prix, Lear Corporation Champion F-1 Driver Safety

MONTREAL, June 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Three-time Formula One (F-1) World Champion and long-time safety advocate Jackie Stewart shared a different kind of podium today, on the eve of the Canadian Grand Prix and on the Stewart Grand Prix (SGP) Executive Chairman's 60th birthday, Stewart joined Jim Masters, President of Lear Corporation's Technology Division, at the podium to discuss F-1 safety issues and the progress being made by SGP and Lear -- an SGP technology partner and one of the world's largest automotive interiors suppliers. They also highlighted the technology transfer from the F-1 racetrack to roadways that eventually will benefit everyday drivers. Safety is a pertinent topic in light of the massive accident involving 12 drivers on Turn One of Lap One of last year's Canadian Grand Prix. Stewart Grand Prix Drivers Rubens Barrichello and Johnny Herbert each race in personalized versions of the award-winning extractable seat system, a collaboration between technical and design engineers at Lear, SGP and the FIA. The FIA's Technical Working Group adopted the technical specifications from the prototype designed and developed by Lear and SGP in conjunction with Professor Sid Watkins, the FIA Medical Commission Chairman, and Charlie Whiting, the FIA Safety Delegate. This type of extractable seat became mandatory on all Formula One cars from January 1, 1999. The seat is designed for rapid extrication of an injured driver (30% faster than conventional methods), to prevent further injury and to provide better stabilization. Fortunately, the extractable seat has not been put to the test during the 1999 Grand Prix season but each driver now uses a version of the seat made in accordance with Lear-SGP design specifications. Track crews also have been trained to apply the head stabilization board, attach the belts and lift the immobilized driver from his car without causing further injury. Jackie Stewart, a motorsport legend with 27 victories from 99 Grand Prix starts and three World Championships between 1965 and 1973, praised the innovative extractable seat: "The extractable seat provides ample hope not only that drivers will survive accidents with their lives but may be able to walk after crashes that would otherwise have left them paralysed. The team of people involved in this project at Lear both in North America and Europe, have done an extraordinarily good job. Many hundreds of hours have been devoted to it by a whole army of experts. Stewart Grand Prix is proud to have been part of the project and to have contributed something to motorsport in terms of driver safety, a subject about which I am very passionate. I am delighted that the FIA has seen fit in 1999 to make it compulsory in all Formula One cars." In addition to its work with the extractable seat, Lear also worked integrally with the SGP team to develop the F-1 drivers' 1999 seats entirely using computer-aided design. Lear designers use highly specialized modeling and software to help determine the optimum position to enhance driver comfort. "It's become increasingly clear that comfort can have a major impact on driver performance," said Lear Technology Division President Jim Masters. "As the race progresses, the driver naturally becomes fatigued. Discomfort could interfere with his concentration, slow his reaction time and potentially compromise his safety as well as the other drivers' and even his crew. The seats we designed for the SGP drivers took all this into consideration and the scanning technology we used might someday allow us to build a custom seat for retail customers." Lear and SGP took an unprecedented approach in designing the interiors of the two 1999 Stewart-Ford SF-3 racecars: Rather than wedging the driver into the remaining area available for the cockpit, they started with the driver cockpit area and worked out from there. The team focused on vehicle packaging, driver anthropometry (the study of human measurements) and custom seat design. The new design converted the uncomfortable, old foam seat to new, carbon fiber/kevlar composite structural sheet supplemented with individualized foam inserts to enhance driver comfort and support. The new seat structure also is lighter, a key factor in racing because weight reduction can improve speed. "The seat gives me the support in the lower back that I didn't have during my first four years on the circuit," said Barrichello. "We're talking about going a tenth of a second faster at the end of the race when your body is tiring, leaving the body free to use your mind as well. It provides me with fantastic lower back protection where I really need it." The extractable seat system has earned Lear and SGP several important safety awards. The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) presented Lear and SGP with its prestigious 1998 Motorsports Engineering Safety Award for "outstanding contribution to state-of-the-art motorsports engineering." Earlier this week, Automotive and Transportation Interiors Magazine honored Lear and the extractable seat with top prize in 1999 Interior Design and Technology Awards' Production Division/Safety Category. One judge called it "a truly innovative design and engineering solution with easily measurable gains in safety." Another said, "This concept is particularly commendable because any translation to production vehicles means extending the seat's safety responsibilities still further, beyond current work with whiplash protection." Stewart Grand Prix, under the direction of Executive Chairman Jackie Stewart and Deputy Chairman Paul Stewart, is racing two Stewart-Ford SF-3 racecars driven by Rubens Barrichello and Johnny Herbert in this weekend's Montreal Grand Prix. Lear Corporation signed a three-year contract as a Technology Partner with Stewart Grand Prix on December 17, 1997.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Rubens Barrichello , Jackie Stewart , Paul Stewart
Teams Stewart Grand Prix