FIA introduce new regulations for motorsport seats

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The FIA has announced an update to the long standing 8855-1999 seat standard that applies to closed-cockpit cars, with the aim of improving the safety of the most popular motorsport seats used worldwide.

With R&D carried out by D2H Advanced Technologies, the new 8855-2021 standard now requires seats to be much stronger than the original standard issued more than 20 years ago. This places the standard of seats used in closed cockpit cars much closer to the 8862-2009 standard that encompasses seats being used in professional motorsport disciplines such as the World Rally Championship.

Seat strength is assessed by the FIA based on its ability to withstand an impact to the rear and sides, and to protect the occupant in the event of an accident up to 42g. The revised 8855-2021 seat standard offers a higher level of safety that is said to be affordable for a range of teams and competitors internationally.

“The FIA has delivered a new cost-effective 8855-2021 seat standard that brings it closer to the 8862-2009 seat standard used in top-tier motorsport categories,” commented Adam Baker, FIA safety director. “With the help of R&D from D2H in developing seat prototypes by optimizing materials and manufacturing techniques, we were able to deliver this very cost-effective standard. This is great news for motorsport competitors at all levels around the world.”

Quasi-static tests were conducted by the FIA Safety Department, where forces were applied to critical areas of the seat shell by controlled loading arms to simulate stresses on the seat during a high-speed accident. Total forces applied to the seats were around two tons in areas critical to crash safety. These included the lumbar area, center of the back, head and neck, the sides – including the hips and pelvis region, shoulders and to the side of the head.

The FIA states that its research program showed the 8855-2021 seat standard boosts the strength of the existing specifications and offers 60% of the strength of the top-level 8862 seats. Notably, in a move that will save teams considerable costs, homologated 8855-2021 seats will be issued with a 10-year FIA validity compared with the five-year lifespan under the 8855-1999 standard.

The implementation of the new seat standard in categories not currently using the 8862-2009 seats has been discussed by the FIA Safety, Technical and Sporting Departments and respective FIA Commissions. Technical regulations surrounding 8855-2021 seats will be updated once the implementation of new standards is approved by the World Motor Sport Council. Competitors currently using 8855-1999 seats can upgrade from 2021 to the 8855-2021 standard.

The FIA notes that the 8855-1999 standard won’t be withdrawn, as some design aspects of the new seats mean it is not possible to mandate in every model of competition car. 

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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