Protecting all individuals at an F1 race through flags and firefighters- captured in images.
The convergence of vehicles racing at speeds over 200mph, combustible fuel, and numerous personnel and spectators creates a potential hazard at Formula One race weekends. Nevertheless, dedicated teams are hard at work behind the scenes to guarantee the well-being of all individuals present.
Ana Belem García Sierra is the head medical officer for the grand prix in Mexico City. She is employed at one of the largest hospitals in the city as an internal doctor, but also volunteers to lead the medical team at the F1 event. She oversees operations from the race control tower and has final authority on whether or not the firefighters and medical team can enter the track. Yarel Barba Ruiz Esparza, also a doctor, is her second-in-command and supports a team of 124 doctors, nurses, drivers, helicopter pilots, and specialists in burns and radiography. They are aided by female firefighters, who are stationed in the pits and around the track. While prioritizing the safety of her team, Ana’s ultimate goal is to decrease their response time during emergencies.
Fortunately, it is rare for a Formula 1 driver to sustain such severe injuries that they are unable to exit their car after a crash. However, in the event that this does happen, it is the responsibility of the extrication team to safely remove them from the cockpit. Therefore, the team must regularly train and rehearse this procedure to ensure that they can efficiently and carefully extract the driver if needed.
The organizers of the Mexico Grand Prix have reported a record-breaking attendance of over 400,000 for the first time in the event’s history. The three-day race weekend saw a total of 400,639 fans in attendance, with 109,245 on the opening practice day, 141,673 on qualifying day, and just under 150,000 on race day.
Around 1,300 law enforcement officials and seven canine units joined forces with approximately 3,000 security staff to maintain order and ensure the safety of all attendees during the event. The city’s mayor’s secretary of security reported that 65 individuals were removed due to a dispute or misconduct.
The medical team, consisting of 124 members, is stationed at the medical center. The team is composed of doctors, ambulance drivers, support drivers, nurses, radiographers, burns specialists, and extrication specialists. The medical center is fully equipped with treatment areas, X-ray capabilities, and a helipad.
Volunteers positioned around the race track have the responsibility of closing the track and using flags to communicate with drivers. Each volunteer is assigned a specific section of the track and plays a crucial role in shutting down the track in case of an emergency or slowing down drivers when instructed by race control. This marks the first time in F1 history that over 800 volunteers will be equipped with new technology, including QR codes on their overalls that contain their personal health information and emergency contacts. Given the constant movement of cars, the fast-paced work of pit crews, and the presence of highly flammable fuel, combined with heat from the cars and other equipment, the pit lane is a bustling and potentially hazardous area. To ensure safety, there are over 80 firefighters and pit marshals present to manage crowds, guide the cars, prevent accidents, and maintain a secure pit lane environment.
During the race, there were multiple incidents that kept the track staff occupied, including Magnussen’s high-speed crash. Sergio Pérez tried to overtake Charles Leclerc on lap one, but due to lack of space, he collided with Leclerc as he was turning in. As a result, Pérez’s car was lifted into the air and spun off. Later in the race, Yuki Tsunoda also spun off after colliding with Oscar Piastri on lap 49. Towards the end, Lance Stroll crashed into Valtteri Bottas in turn 13, causing debris to scatter on the track and a puncture in Bottas’ rear right tire.