To your screens! The first Grand Prix of the 2023 Formula 1 season begins this Sunday in Bahrain. One of the centers of interest this season is this 100% French team: Alpine and its two Norman drivers, with Pierre Gasly who joins Esteban Ocon to try to create a surprise in this world championship. Another cocorico: the suits that equip most F1 drivers are made with a special fabric, “made in France”. A fabric that saved the life of Romain Grosjean during his accident where he was engulfed in flames three years ago.
The company is called Chamatex, it specializes in technical and high performance fabrics. It is based in Ardoix in Ardèche where Europe 1 went. On its looms, the Ardèche company makes the famous membrane used for the suits. Today, 16 of the 20 drivers on the circuit have adopted it, including Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc and the two Frenchmen Gasly and Ocon.
A reference textile for all the big names
Because the Chamatex fabric is a reference, explains Sandrine Navarro, director of the Sport and performance department. “The fabric at the base uses flame retardant yarns. And we have developed the lightest possible fabrics, the most breathable possible while respecting flame and heat resistance standards which are still quite strict standards”, she details.
And the life-size demonstration took place during Romain Grosjean’s accident in 2020. “The standard requires resisting ten seconds in contact with the flame. But we saw that Romain Grosjean stayed 28 seconds in a burning car and that it has not been burned. So our fabric goes beyond that”, specifies the director.
An event that reinforced Chamatex’s status as an innovative and high performance brand. The Ardèche company, on the verge of disappearing twenty years ago, now employs more than 300 people in France.