With the arrival of the new year, the new social media craze of the #tenyearschallenge has gone viral. In the “challenge” participants simply post two similar images side by side which are taken at least ten years apart. They do that to testify the passage of time. Now, taking the cue from this social phenomenon, Sabelt tried to compare two models of its F1 seat belts to show how many improvements have been made by its R&D from every point of view. Two seat belts models that, in 2009 and in 2019, have always represented the technical and technological excellence in a field in which performance and lightweight are taken to extremes.
Sabelt efforts in this direction are intense and give excellent results. The Italian company, that in 2009 was supplier of only two F1 teams, in 2017 became the supplier of all the cars of the Circus during the pre-seasons tests in Barcelona. Today seven out of ten teams choose Sabelt seat belts. Let's talk in detail about all the improvements the Italian company achieved in terms of innovation and weight reduction.
talking about weight, let's start from the most significant component: the buckle. In 2009 it was made of titanium and magnesium and had a weight of 160 grams. Today, thanks to the FEM design, it has a special triangular trilobate shape with only three pivots, with fixed tongue integrated in the body (this one made of an Ergal 7075 aluminium alloy monobloc), and stops at 129 gr.
Significant is the weight reduction of the regulator, too. It passed from 95 grams (3” aluminium regulator, because the 2” strip was not allowed yet) to 54 gr both in the titanium version and in the Ergal one. For what concerns webbings, thanks to the new PBO fiber (Zylon), today Sabelt reached 37 gr/m of weight: on equal resistance the new webbings weight 40% less than those made of polyester. The D- ring, that on the 2009 model had a weight of 22 gr, has been permanently removed on the actual seat belts. Thanks to all these solutions and to the introduction of new materials, the overall weight of the F1 seat belts passed from nearly 1 kg to 470 gr.
Besides being lighter, modern F1 seat belts must observe more severe safety regulations. For examples, they must guarantee a superior mechanical resistance (due to the 2016 FIA 8853 rule): previously they had to resist to crash test decelerations of 32g, with a speed difference (ΔV) of 50 km/h, now measures raised to 60g and 67 km/h of ΔV. Finally, to allow drivers to maximize performances, the new seat belts are designed to guarantee more comfort. That's why the triangular buckle has a higher center of gravity, to squash the driver's pelvis less.