One of the biggest challenges during any Formula 1 race, especially those driven in hot climates like Malaysian Grand Prix, is dehydration. The solution to resupplying drivers with liquids seems extremely low-tech, especially compared to the rest of their highly-engineered supercars costing millions.
The heat forms the engine and various electronic modern Formula 1 cars are filled to the brim with means that the cockpit temperature can easily reach 50 C, despite being open to the air. Combined with a hot and humid climate like the one in Malaysia means that the drivers are boiling in their fire-resistant suits.
Their overalls and even underwear are designed to not catch fire in case of a crash, but the side-effect is that they are incredibly hot, causing drivers to sweat and on average lose two kilograms of body weight during each race. The loss of so much water can cause a significant drop in performance due to the loss of concentration.
The solution formula 1 engineers came up with for this problem is incredibly simple. Since the drivers can’t very well chug a bottle of Coke during the race, something more practical was needed. The system consists of a plastic bag, a simple pump (similar to the one we all have in our cars for spraying glass washing liquid, and a small tube.
The bag is placed on the side of the cockpit. It is connected with a long tube to the driver’s helmet and is equipped with a small pump that pushed the piqued into the driver’s mouth. The pump is activated by a button placed on the wheel of the car. Every lap when cars enter some long straight, you can almost be sure that every driver is pressing that button and taking sips of liquid.
Since all drivers drink as much as they can before the race, the system doesn’t have to contain a lot of liquid. In most cases, about 1.5 liters is quite enough to replenish the losses during the race. Of course, they don’t drink ordinary water. Each driver has his own preferences, but for the most part, the bags in cars contain an isotonic liquid, packed with glucose, vitamins, and minerals, as well as important elements like potassium, calcium, sodium, chlorine, magnesium, and phosphorus. The important thing is that this drink isn’t cooled, but warms up as the race progresses, just like the driver’s body. By the end of the race, it is quite warm.
Of course, all that liquid has to come out sometimes, and some drivers can’t always hold it to the end of the race. That is why many of them wear diapers while racing, which seems like another practical low-tech solution.