Optimising FIA standards of seat safety

Advanced Technologies

Optimising FIA standards of seat safety

When motorsport governing body, the FIA, sought to update the safety standard of seats used in closed-cockpit cars, they turned to us to help improve the construction of the most popular seat in the world of motor sport.

Our work delivered an entirely new design that is substantially stronger and safer than the previous standard, issued over 20 years ago, but at a cost that remains affordable for competitors at all levels.

The FIA Safety Research Group’s programme called for the 8855-1999 standard to be updated in order to bring it closer in terms of strength and safety to the 8862-2009 FIA standard used in top-tier motor sport such as WRC. 

Rather than starting with the existing specifications, we undertook extensive material and design testing in order to find the right balance between strength and cost, using our understanding of advanced materials and our experience of evolving manufacturing techniques. For much of this work, the emphasis was on the importance of optimising the fibre laying-up configuration to deliver the best results. 

The programme called for all digital development work to be verified by physical testing at FIA-approved facilities. Quasi-static tests applied forces to critical areas of the seat shell using controlled loading arms, simulating the stresses of a high-speed impact. Core areas that are crucial to crash safety – such as lumbar, centre of the back and head/neck, the hip and pelvis region, and around the shoulder – were subjected to total forces of around two tonnes. 

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As a result of our extensive research, the updated 8855-2021 seat standard offers 60% of the strength of the elite 8862 equipment – a substantial increase over the previous design – but with only a small increase in cost and only a marginal increase in weight.

In addition, homologated 8855-2021 seats will now be issued with a 10-year FIA validity, compared to five years for the previous standard.

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“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 motor sport categories.

“ With the help of R&D from D2H in developing seat prototypes by optimising materials and manufacturing techniques, we were able to deliver this very cost-effective standard. This is great news for motor sport competitors at all levels around the world.”  

Adam Baker

– Adam Baker
FIA Safety Director