Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2011

Closed cockpits for F1 cars “not inevitable”

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: Paddy Lowe says “a very compelling case” would have to be made to do away with open cockpits.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Japanese GP – Conference 2 (FIA)

Paddy Lowe: “I think the decision, if ever it was taken, to close the cockpit would be very, very fundamental and I think those councillors have already expressed reservations about that, so I think there would have to be a very, very compelling case made that that was an essential feature for safety.”

Lotus/Renault face name change debate (Autosport)

“For the changes to be approved they need to win support from 18 members of the 26-strong Formula 1 Commission – which is made up of teams, Bernie Ecclestone, FIA president Jean Todt and representatives of race promoters, engine manufacturers and sponsors.”

Bernie Ecclestone offers support to those affected by Japanese tsunami (The Guardian)

“Formula One’s commercial rights holder has bought 3,000 tickets at an average price of 35,000 yen (??295) for a three-day pass for the Suzuka circuit.”

Bahrain youth dies after clash with police (Reuters)

“The island’s Shi’ite majority are demanding more political rights and an end to discrimination from the monarchy, which put down a pro-democracy uprising earlier this year. Many Shi’ite areas are witnessing almost nightly clashes with police.”

Follow F1 news as it breaks using the F1 Fanatic live Twitter app.

Comment of the day

Raj on the reasons for the rumours about Vijay Mallya selling Force India:

Probably he has no plans to exit but he might be forced to do to save other businesses.

It is well documented in Indian media that his airline is struggling lot (they are defaulting on almost everything). He is being stretched a lot on finance side and so it makes sense for him to sell some non core interests (He has cricket club also and if choice comes to sell either Force India or cricket club, he would sell Force India considering cricket mad popularity in India). I also heard that his yacht is up for sale.

If he gets right price, the Force India sale may not be too far away.

From the forum

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Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Rob Tsintas!

On this day in F1

Stirling Moss made what turned out to be his final start in an F1 race 50 years ago today.

Ferrari did not send their cars to the United States Grand Prix following the tragedy at Monza a few weeks earlier.

Moss passed pole sitter Jack Brabham to lead at the start but their battle was curtailed when first Brabham, then Moss retired with engine maladies.

That allowed Innes Ireland through to claim the first victory for Lotus in Formula 1. But it wasn’t enough for him to keep his place in the team for 1962.

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  • 25 comments on “Closed cockpits for F1 cars “not inevitable””

    1. Ahh Honestly,Bahrain are generating a lot of losses from all this mayhem,Incredible that there’s still a bit of chaos.Hopefully for their sake the Race next year iis not at risk otherwise a bit of uncertainly might occur in the run up to the race weekend.On the other hand,Bahrain itself hasnt really been exciting & to an extent very very boring so i wouldnt be disappointed

    2. I think FOM should consider cancelling Bahrain 2012 already, or at least when this season is finished. I’m not sure it’s out of the question the trouble will be over come Spring (the race is only 6 months or so away!!) – and even if things did get better beforehand, then waiting another year before hosting a race there would surely be the sensible and honorable decision.

      Better to quit whilst they’re ahead and perhaps find a replacement venue than cancel it 6 weeks before the event is due.

      1. I feel for the actual F1 fans in that area.

        But if the same stuff that prevented the race last year is still going on? Well, it doesn’t leave much of a choice does it?

        I would hate for the race to go ahead and then something to happen at the event. Putting aside all consideration for human rights, this is what worries me. F1 does not need this as a mark on it’s admittedly already stained history book.

        I would like to see the race happen. But how can it?

        1. Having Bahrain plastered on the calender again for a second season in a row will just be embarrassing. Not only for F1 but for Bahrain itself.

        2. I think you are right, and unless Bahrain changes their approach to this, really prosecutes the government officials ordering a hard ball approach as well as clearing the worst cases of abuse, and at the same release all those protesters that have been dodgedly captured and put before a military court, to enable a piecefull reform process, its inevitable their will be new uprisings concentrated around the GP event.

        3. Bahrain are asking for the race to be cancelled. They always go on saying that they deserve it, but their approach hasn’t changed.

      2. @Electrolite This year I was all for the race irrespective of the political tensions but for 2012, not so much. Clearly Bahrain was caught out last year with the uprising but unless they sort this mess out soon, a country that cannot even uphold itself should not be holding a Formula 1 race. Why go out of your way this year to cancel it but book next year, regardless of the fact your country is in turmoil? If the Bahrain royalty want to continue with their anti-democracy stance they should at least realise it would be easier to do so without unnecessary media attention.

    3. close the cockpit? i’ll have whatever he’s having!

      certainly, open-wheelers are an anachronism done for sentiment and style. much less silly than “2 seater” prototypes though (which maintain the open cockpit option and “penalize” closed cars with air condish and a wiper blade). i say cover the wheels before closing the cockpit, and remove the wings before covering the wheels.

      closing the cockpit isn’t a slam dunk for safety, since driver extraction and vision (audi) becomes a more complicated issue. maybe perspectives would be changed if schumacher were decapitated in abu dhabi last year, but if if if is an endless cycle that goes nowhere.

      1. I pretty much agree. F1 is even more about open-cockpit racing that it is about open-wheeled racing- case in point is the existence of closed wheel streamliners from the 50’s. F1 should not compromise either of these 2 things. Unfortunately there are dangers with open cockpits, but it is an essential element of F1, and unless most F1 drivers feels it is too dangerous to race withput added protection there should not be a change.

    4. If we stick them in cages,why not a Bus?

    5. Nice gesture from Bernie.

    6. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      8th October 2011, 2:08

      Closed cockpits wouldneed a super hard glass, but it couldn’t be avoided some mirroring effects in night races like Singapore or Abu Shabi. F1 has existed for 50 years without them, and it can be claimed as a safety evolution (I’m not against evolution) but the aero-package may change with these new spears-like cars cutting the airflow more effciently. As every thing it has pros and cons, but the best solution can just be to leave things as they curretly are

      1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        8th October 2011, 2:10

        this keyboard seems wrecked

      2. Another consideration is what will happen with car parts bouncing off a canopy. Will they be launched into the viewer area?

        I think its good the FIA studies how it would work, and establishes positives and risks. But I would really see it as a last resort if all else fails and its proven to be the best (or only) solution

    7. I’d love it if the lotus name change was refused, at this point i feel both sides are in need of a spanking.

    8. I don’t think I’d watch if they closed the cockpits. I’d probably watch DTM.

      1. But they don’t have open cockpits in the DTM.

        Or evenly remotely good racing at the moment, it’s been dreadfully dull this year.

      2. I’d rather go with IndyCar, with the new things coming in in the next years.

        Or endurance racing or the sportscar world championship if I was not to stay with open wheel open cockpit.

    9. Closed cockpits for F1 cars “not inevitable”

      This is a very hard decision to make. As Paddy Lowe says, changes will not be made unless and until the situation becomes compelling. The most noticeable & scariest incidents known to open top car in the last three years were of Henry Surtees fatal accident @Brands Hatch, 2009; Felipe Massa @Hungary, 2009; & Michael Schumacher @Abu Dhabi, 2010; Jenson Button @Spa, 2011 [Timo Glock @Hockehiem 2010 was indeed a close call]. There were suggestions to bring in fighter jet canopy style cockpit, but those ideas were dismissed as soon as they were raised.

      The last time the FIA made changes to the cockpit was after the Alex Wurz-DC accident @ Albert Park in 2007. The governing body raised the vertical height of the cockpit to avoid the driver’s head getting exposed to such impact from the side.

      Open wheel and open top stayed as the norm for these cars and offers great fun; unfortunately it also brings tremendous risk. One way, it is great to see the governing body is constantly working on such initiatives in the background; keeping driver’s safety as the priority. I would prefer the cars stay the same way they are now and hope our drivers stay safe. Only time will tell

    10. I think what were missing here is that its open wheeled racing, its dangerous open wheeled racing, it says it on the back off the ticket, It`s Dangerous, as a spectator you run the risk of death, You are liable to die, if you come to a race event an think different then more fool you.

    11. Lucas Alexander Munro
      8th October 2011, 7:59

      I wonder who would buy Force India.. Well if it were me, I’d call it Scuderia Britalia, carry on the Mercedes-Benz engine deal, make it a part British and part Italian nationality and sign a Brit and a Italian. One experienced and one young. Back to reality for a minute, who would buy out Force India?

    12. I don’t like the idea of closed cockpits even from a safety point of view because the one thing that worries me is if the driver gets trapped particularly if there is a fire. I know it’s unlikely and it’s not like open cockpits are risk-free as Massa recently showed but the idea of someone being stuck in their car does worry me. On a superficial level I love the idea of drivers feeling the wind through their helmets. It’s easier to see the drivers at work I think and to see two drivers racing wheel-to-wheel with their heads poking out makes it a bit more personal and real. It gives the sport a bit more soul for me which I know is very sentimental and daft but I can’t help it :P

    13. Forgive my ignorance but I really fail to see where this closed cockpit idea has come from. I haven read the article but nothing has happened recently that’s really warranted their discussion.

      Fantastic gesture from Bernie, he ought to get a pat on the back for that.

      1. The idea has been around since Surtees and Massa incidents in 2009. It’s nothing new, Lowe has just been asked to comment on that.

        And It’s been treated seriously, FIA having started an actual research about jet-like canopy with some measurements.

        Massa incident has been the closest F1 has got to fatal since Senna in 1994. Personally, the scariest F1 incidents always involves the driver head been extremely in danger (Schumacher@AbuDhabi, Wurz@Melbourne). Sorry for being so dramatic, but with all the incredible improvements on safety in F1 and the major crashes where the driver just got away with it in the last 17 years, I feel that an object hitting a driver’s head is practically the only way you can die in F1 nowadays.

        The idea cannot be dismissed just like that. It has to be looked at extensively, and only then the decision has to be made whether to improve the only area that has major room for safety improvements on a F1 car or to keep things the way they are to save an historical flavour of racing.

        I’m not saying safety must have to be above everything else no matter what. I’m saying that this 17 year of safety improvements in F1 have not taken the feeling or the glamour that F1 gives as a racing series away (if the racing has got worse, it’s for entirely different reasons), but this particular decision probably would. And then it will come down to what you want to give the priority to.

        I would prefer the “you” to be the drivers.
        What i definitely don’t want is that they wait until something fatal happens and then make the decision on the emotional wave of that. The issue needs to be looked into right now.

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