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F1 to test closed cockpit design

2015-08-26 09:14

HEAR OUR PLEA: Nascar fan Dustin Hamby tweeted this closed cockpit image as the industry and fans cry for this safety call for drivers after Justin Wilson's tragic death on Monday (Aug 24). Image: Twitter / Dustin Hamby

LONDON, England - Formula 1's governing body is to carry out more tests on devices that could protect drivers' heads from flying debris of the sort that killed IndyCar racer Justin Wilson.

Former F1 driver Wilson suffered severe head injuries at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania on Sunday and died in hospital on Monday (August 24).

VARIOUS SOLUTIONS

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has tested various solutions, including cockpits enclosed by a fighter jet-style canopy, since Felipe Massa was hit on the helmet by a bouncing spring in Hungary in 2009.

While none have produced anything where the benefits clearly outweigh the disadvantages, new ideas have been put forward that might protect the driver without obstructing his vision or trapping him in the event of the car overturning.

An FIA spokesman said the new tests were planned before Wilson's accident and would take time.

Two new ideas, one from world champions Mercedes and comprising a 'halo' or hoop positioned above the driver's head, would be tried out.

'MUST BE A WAY'

F1 race director Charlie Whiting, the FIA technical head who is in charge of safety, said some sort of cockpit protection would be introduced eventually.

Whiting said: "We have to persevere. We must make something, even if it's not 100% in terms of protecting the driver under all circumstances.

"If it improves the situation, it has to be good. There must be a way."

The debate on how to protect drivers' exposed heads has been going on for years, and was revived after the death in July of Frenchman Jules Bianchi who suffered severe injuries when he crashed into a recovery tractor at Suzuka last October.

Former F1 driver Lucas di Grassi said on Twitter that IndyCar had to consider closed cockpits in the light of Wilson's death.

Di Grassi tweeted: "Canopies will be used in every single formula (open-wheel) series in the future. Not only for safety, but for aerodynamic improvement."

Bianchi's former Marussia team mate Max Chilton, who has raced most recently in the US Indy Lights series, agreed cockpits should be made safer in IndyCars.

Chilton told Sky Sports television: "There is definitely room for making them closed cockpits.

"I think we can come around and design something where we are safer from debris and head-on collisions into tyre walls or whatever it may be and we can still get out. I think this (Wilson's death) is definitely going to push that forward."


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