In the fast-paced world of motorsports, safety is paramount. As the sport continues to push the boundaries of speed and performance, the need for comprehensive race suit regulations for safety becomes increasingly vital.
The standards for race suits (racewear) changed in 2022. Motorsports governing body, the FIA now use the FIA 8856-2018 standard, which was brought in from 1st January 2022. It applies to all fire retardant clothing. No racewear manufacturer will be able to manufacture items to the older FIA 8856-2000 homologation. All new motorsport racewear will carry this latest homologation.
These regulations encompass everything from the materials used in race suits to the design specifications, all with the overarching goal of enhancing driver protection on the track.
In this blog, we shed light on what’s changing, dates you need to consider and why it matters to drivers, teams, and fans alike.
What are the latest race suit regulations / homologations and do they affect me?
The FIA document that racewear manufacturers had to follow to achieve the 8856-2018 certification is briefly summarised below:
1. Suits require an increase in the drivers’ heat transmission protection by roughly 20%.
2. The overall protection will increase from an average of 11 seconds to a minimum of 12 seconds.
3. A minimum of 5 seconds of heat transmission protection for underwear, socks, and balaclavas. It was previously 3 seconds.
4. Shoes have a 11 second heat transmission.
5. In addition, balaclavas have a new design and performance requirement, reducing the neck loads during helmet removal.
6. Gloves are now longer, socks knee-length and shoes higher. This is intended to further protect the driver at potential areas where there could be gaps in coverage.
7. New marking and placement system for the tags for easy viewing by sanctioning officials. There is also a gold hologram tag for easy recognition of compliance.
8. The 10-year expiration date. Previously the apparel was only marked with the date of manufacture.
Now you can see racewear complying with this new standard guarantees an extra level of fire safety.
Understand the Dates
The first thing that you need to know is that there is no need to panic. This race suit regulation doesn’t mean you need to buy a completely new race suit, boots, gloves, and underwear in time for next season. In fact, you may not even need to update your racewear for another few years (although we might suggest reading the safety note at the end of the blog).
As is always the case with the release of new race suit regulations, there are certain dates that you will need to be aware of. Below is the timeline for the rollout of this new homologation.
Already Mandatory for Formula E
Already Mandatory for Formula One and WRC RC1 Crews
Already Mandatory in WEC
Already Mandatory in Formula 2, World RX, Euro RX, Cross Country (Dakar etc)
From 1st Jan 2029 – Mandatory for all FIA sanctioned events
It is important to note that FIA 8856-2018 will be the first racewear homologation to carry an expiry date on the label. This is the length of time that any item of racewear will be suitable for use in FIA sanctioned competition. The expiry will be 10 years from date of manufacture. So, if your race suit was manufactured in 2020, the expiry date would be the end of 2030.
This expiry date, currently, only has relevance for FIA events. Race meetings organised by Motorsport UK will continue to allow these suits to be used after this expiry date. The same applies to the expiry on older FIA 8856-2000 racewear. However, bear in mind that this may be subject to change in future, and we suggest reading the safety note below.
Older Race Suits with no Hologram
It will be a long time until this new homologation is mandated for Motorsport UK clubman events. However, if you intend to do FIA events as well, please read below:
If you have older racewear without the FIA hologram and you are competing in FIA events there are some points to be aware of:
Racing overalls approved in accordance with FIA Standard 8856-2000 that were produced before 01-Jan 2013 – along with undergarments, gloves, and balaclavas produced before 01-Jan 2016 – do not display an FIA hologram.
The FIA has decided to limit the validity of fireproof clothing without a hologram for FIA sanctioned events to the following dates:
• Suits with the old labelling (without an FIA hologram) will not be accepted after 31.12.2022
• Underwear, Gloves, Balaclavas, and Shoes with the old labelling (without an FIA hologram) will not be accepted after 31.12.2023
• This limitation will not apply to socks as labelling for socks did not have holograms
If you are still using non-hologram racewear and they have been used regularly it is unlikely it will give the total fire protection it was tested too. This will equally apply to very well used hologram racewear. This is due to exposure to dirt and sweat and contact with fuel, oil and other contaminants. The suit is likely to have worn thinner in parts from use and washing.
All these combined reduce its effectiveness. Also, remember these comply with the older less strict standard. Replacing with the new standard will give considerably better fire protection, as well as taking advantage of the newer lighter materials and a better more comfortable fit. If the budget is tight all 2022 racewear including entry level has the new race suit regulation standard.
We hope this guide allows a better understanding of the new standard. If you are unsure of the current standard on your existing racewear or require any extra information we are always happy to answer your questions or give advice on replacement racewear. We can be reached by phone or e-mail.
Enjoyed this? Read more of our latest news:
- What is the FIA 8856-2018 Regulation
- How to Choose Racing Gloves & Boots
- How to Choose Racing Underwear
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