How do F1 drivers minimize sneezing during the race?

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If you ever wondered how F1 drivers manage to control their sneeze while driving at 200 mph – this is the place you need to be for all the answers

We have had instances of drivers throwing up on their helmets during F1 races, so it certainly makes us wonder how they control sneezing – which is supposed to be a more frequent occurrence. F1 drivers certainly take their precautions to prevent sneezing during a race and on occasions when even those are not enough – well, maybe they just let it be!?

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Racers generally use ‘Nasal Strips‘. You might have observed it on Felipe Massa or for that fact MotoGP icon, Valentino Rossi who use it prominently. They use it for easy breathing without any discomfort. So, the chances of sneezing are minimalized and but for the occasional sneeze, they can’t help it!

A nasal strip, external nasal dilator strip or nasal dilator strip is a type of adhesive bandage with embedded plastic ribs or splints that is applied across the bridge of the nose and sides of the nostrils, to assist in keeping the airway open. They are believed to make breathing easier and for that reason are used during athletic exertion and as an aid to reduce congestion or to prevent snoring.


Various studies have indicated that they do not have a performance-enhancing effect. They are also used by race horse trainers on horses for similar reasons; they are thought to reduce airway resistance and lower the risk of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH), plus reduce fatigue and aid post-race recovery.

What do drivers resort to when they can’t avoid that one off sneeze during a race?

It is extremely rare for an F1 driver to sneeze during a race as they carry out several preventive measures to ensure that doesn’t happen. Starting with of course ensuring they don’t catch a cold close to a race weekend, they take precautions with their clothes and diet in that regard. They also wear nasal strips to open up their nostrils enough so that inhalation and exhalation are smooth and unobstructed, thus effectively eliminating the chance of a sneeze.

In spite of all precautions, biologically it’s totally possible that F1 drivers might fail to avoid that odd sneeze during a race. This has happened with most F1 stars. Let us take a look at some of the first hand experiences.

Max Verstappen did come across this awkward situation. “This mostly happens when you’re sick. It did happen to me before when I was not feeling entirely well while driving. You’re braking or going into a corner and you have to sneeze!”, the Red Bull star narrated his experience.

Charles Leclerc sums it up pretty briefly and accurately – “it’s horrible!”

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