If you spend more than an hour doing anything, you may start thinking about where the bathroom is. Long car journeys usually require a couple of pit stops to go for a pee, but what about nearly two hours going at average speeds of more than 100mph? Do F1 drivers pee during races?
F1 drivers can pee during races if they want to, and many have admitted to doing so in the past. But many drivers choose not to, and they don’t always need to anyway.
You might think it would be hard to avoid going to the bathroom when racing a car for more than an hour, under high-pressure conditions. However, there are some key things to consider about driving an F1 car that will make it a bit clearer as to why they don’t always need to.
Do F1 Drivers Pee During The Race?
Who Does & Who Doesn’t?
Some F1 drivers have admitted to peeing during races, while others have made claims of never having done so. Lewis Hamilton has said on numerous occasions that he has never peed during a race, adding that he couldn’t if he tried. Whether this is due to the discomfort he anticipates or due to stage fright, he did not specify.
However, he has also admitted that other drivers do. It is a well-known rumor that Michael Schumacher, 7-time world champion, did pee during many races. Lewis has said that his mechanics told him he would pee in almost every single race. You can imagine that after you have done it once, it would become much easier to do it again!
Some Do, Some Don’t
David Coulthard is another driver who has admitted to going in his suit, as well as James Hunt and Martin Brundle. Some of those who have said they never go in their suits include 4-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel, as well as Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.
Some drivers say yes, and some say no, so it seems it is definitely an issue of personal preference. Some drivers have been reported to have worn adult diapers, in order to make them feel more comfortable going in their suit. However veteran drivers know how uncomfortable the suits can be with extra layers, so it is usually the rookies that do this.
Skill & Focus Required
F1 racing requires a lot of skill and focus, and there is a huge amount of technology involved in making these cars the fastest race cars on earth. Thus, the idea of going to the bathroom is not going to be at the top of the mechanics’ lists of priorities. For this reason, it is pretty much up to the driver if they want to pee in their suit, as there are more important things to worry about.
Drivers usually go to the bathroom immediately before the race starts, as they will drink a lot beforehand. However, the issue of going to the bathroom during the race is very important for the drivers’ safety, as we will discuss in the next section. Although drivers can choose to hold it or go for it, it might be the smarter option to go when they feel the need.
The Race Length And Conditions
A Long Race
A Formula 1 race can last up to 2 hours according to FIA regulations, and this is a reasonable amount of time to last without going to the bathroom. There are pit stops throughout the race, but none that involve the driver going to the bathroom, as there is just not enough time. Thus, the drivers are instructed to pee in their suit if they need to.
Many will choose not to out of respect for the people who need to clean it up later, but many others just don’t need to go. However, when you consider the forces that the drivers undergo throughout the race it becomes clear that going for it is sometimes the smartest option. Consider for example if the driver really needs to and has a full bladder.
It Could Be Dangerous To Hold It
The bladder expands as it fills, and it becomes quite a solid lump of an organ when full. The F1 cars can inflict G-forces of 6 or more, and that is a lot for anyone to withstand anyway. However, with a full bladder, this could pose dangers for the driver’s internal organs. So, it is always best to go if you are that desperate, from a safety point of view.
Plus, if they end up in a crash, the amount of force felt could cause the bladder to burst if it is full. This is obviously not a desired situation and is another reason they are instructed to go if they need. But regardless of whether or not they are happy to pee in their seat, they might never need to, despite the long races. Let’s consider the conditions of the races themselves.
The Issue Of Hydration
Staying Hydrated Is Essential
Hydration is an issue within every sport that involves a lot of physical exertion. Many people do not think that driving is a sport for this reason, because they don’t understand the physical fitness required to be a race driver. F1 drivers train just as much if not more than most other athletes, and they need to in order to last the length of a race.
They need to be as light as possible in order to keep the overall racing weight down, so that they can be as fast as possible. But they also need to be very fit and be strong enough to withstand the high forces that we mentioned earlier. The car is regularly pulling several Gs of force, which means their bodies need to be strong enough to fight against it and maintain control of the car.
High Level Of Fitness
This means they are constantly battling to keep the steering wheel where they want it, and they are also using their legs and feet to work the pedals. However, it is not just the physical exertion on its own that is important to consider, as the temperature of the cockpit is perhaps the most important factor that has an effect on the drivers’ hydration levels.
The cockpit sits right in front of the engine and is surrounded by components that get very hot during a race. The cars go at speeds of more than 200mph, and that requires a powerful engine, which puts out a lot of heat. Aside from that, the driver is also wearing a specially designed racing suit, which means the temperature in the cockpit can reach 50°C, or 122°F.
This is not just uncomfortable for most people, but it also puts the drivers’ bodies under immense pressure to stay hydrated. The driver perspires constantly when driving, and Lewis Hamilton has said himself that the most weight he ever lost during a race was more than 10lbs at the 2007 Malaysia Grand Prix. He knows this as the drivers need to be weighed before and after the race.
This weight loss is mostly due to the loss of water, and purely through sweat. The drivers drink a lot before the race, usually a hypotonic fluid which contains electrolytes that the body loses under perspiration. These electrolytes are key for proper bodily functions, and especially for concentration and alertness.
They Can Still Have A Drink
The driver also has a tube connected to their helmet that is linked to a small reservoir of this hypotonic drink, and they can press a button on their wheel during the race to have a drink. This is there so that they don’t get dehydrated, which is a high risk when driving in cars that reach the temperatures of F1 car cockpits.
Even though the driver can continue to drink throughout the race, they don’t have an unlimited supply. This is because, once again, they need to keep the weight down. But even with the amount they drink, the amount they sweat due to these high temperatures usually means they are never hydrated enough to need to go to the bathroom.
A Constant Battle
They simply sweat so much that they are constantly losing the fluids that they are taking on, and all of the fluids they drank before the race. But with the harsh conditions, strong forces, and very high pressure that the drivers are under when racing, it is still fair to assume that there will definitely be occasions where the drivers just need to go.
Driving an F1 car takes a lot of skill and requires a high level of fitness. The drivers are under a lot of pressure and are sitting in cockpits that reach more than 100°F. This means they sweat a lot, which subsequently results in rapid dehydration. For this reason, drivers may find that they never need to pee when racing, but if they do need to go, they just go right there in their suits.