Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Spa-Francorchamps, 2014

Covered cockpits may be reconsidered after Bianchi crash

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Spa-Francorchamps, 2014In the round-up: Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams suggests the idea of enclosed cockpit covers should be reconsidered.


Your daily digest of F1 news, views, features and more.

Williams team deputy says F1 should consider closed cockpits (The Globe and Mail)

Claire Williams: “The aesthetics of a Formula One car – yes they are important, they are the very fibre and DNA of Formula One and what cars look like is important – but safety has to be paramount.”

Warwick urges restraint after crash (BBC)

“I don’t think we need any knee-jerk reaction, like some people have called for, a safety car every time a snatch vehicle is recovering a race-car on the circuit.”

Suncity Group Formula Three Macau Grand Prix (Macau Grand Prix)

Max Verstappen will participate in the prestigious Formula Three Macau Grand Prix as a precursor to his Formula One debut next year. Caterham tester Roberto Merhi will also take part as well as Esteban Ocon, the Lotus junior driver who leads Verstappen in the European Formula Three championship.

Thailand celebrates first F1 racing circuit (24×7 news)

“The inaugural event for Chang International Circuit was the Japanese Super GT championship attracting over 100,000 spectators over the course of three days.”

Russian GP wants night race in 2015 (Autosport)

Russian Grand Prix consultant Richard Cregan: “If you see how quickly the likes of Bahrain implemented the system, it can happen [at Sochi] for next year.”

Crash and crisis overshadow Russia F1 debut (Reuters)

“The crisis in Ukraine, with condemnation of Moscow and sanctions imposed by the west, the seizure of Crimea and the downing of a Malaysian airliner near Donetsk in July have all added to criticism of the race going ahead.”

Adrian Sutil: “It was getting worse on those couple of laps” (Adam Cooper’s F1 Blog)

“In dark conditions it affects the eyesight a lot. In those last laps with all the spray and the drops on the visor it was really hard to see.”

Bianchi crash highlights a dilemma at the heart of Formula One (The Telegraph)

“Max Mosley, the former FIA president, was fond of declaring after Senna’s fatal crash at Imola that dangers had been reduced to “acceptable” levels, but [Bianchi’s] accident shows such an idea to have been alarmingly complacent.”

Vettel and Alonso to McLaren in 2015? (ESPN)

“The obvious implication is that McLaren were/are talking to the drivers individually. But here’s a thought: An Alonso/Vettel partnership in the mould of Senna/Prost is the sort of thing Ron Dennis dreams of.”


Comment of the day

Sam from Baku gives us a guide to some of the locations that will feature on the circuit which will host Azerbaijan’s first grand prix in 2016 in this video:

For now, you can watch this video, and stop at 1:10 (east part of the route), 2:44 (fast straight to the east), 2.51 (east part), 3.24 (fast straight), 3.25 (east end of the route), 3.31 (fast straight), 8.05 (the north part of the west), 8.15 (the north part of the west), 18:44 (general view of Baku at night), 18:52-19:00 (fast straight on board camera view), 19:05 (east side upper route), 19:24 (east side), 19:30 (west side), 19:34 (east side), 19:55 (east side).

What I couldn’t show you is the very interesting part of the route (the west part, the best part), and let it remain a surprise for you.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Toby!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is via the contact form or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

1994 F1 seasonNigel Mansell bowed out of IndyCar racing 20 years ago today in the final race of the 1994 season at Laguna Seca. Having won the title at his first attempt in 1993, Mansell ended the 1994 campaign win-less.

However it left him free to contest the final three rounds of the F1 championship for Williams alongside Damon Hill.

It was also the final IndyCar race for Mansell’s team mate and fellow F1 and IndyCar champion Mario Andretti.

Here are highlights from the race – keep an eye out for an amusing incident in the pits involving another ex-F1 driver, Stefan Johansson:

Image © Williams/LAT

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  • 115 comments on “Covered cockpits may be reconsidered after Bianchi crash”

    1. The closed cockpits could be a plus for safety.. But I can’t shake the idea it wouldn’t have helped Bianchi in this crash. It was a (n avoidable) freak accident, but with lessons to be learned. How much we do hate it, getting a SC should be considered much quicker. As we saw many times, Charlie doesn’t like to send it out quickly unless it’s real clear cut. It ruins some races in the way it’s not as pure. But it does bring excitement and safety. We might have to get used to more safety cars.

      1. Safety cars (or as we like to call them, pace cars) have long been more common in Indy Car racing. I don’t know why, but they don’t seem to last as long. Maybe it’s because that’s usually the time broadcasters head to commercial. Regardless, it hasn’t ruined the racing there, but they also close the pit lane as soon as it comes out. This keeps things more fair can ruins fewer races as drivers aren’t able on capitalize rushing in to get a free put stop. Everyone is forced to come in at once if they choose to put under yellow. Unsafe releases could be an issue, but Indy also has far fewer pit crew allowed “over the wall.” Overall, I think it’s time for F1 to start looking at how Indy Car handles FCY’s. They’re much more cautious about safety crews at work and have plenty of experience with deploying them.

        1. The problem with the safety car is that it does not prevent cars from spinning off in wet or dry conditions. To wit, Ericsson at Suzuka.

          Also, it may not get employed quickly enough to prevent an accident even if it is sent out immediately when it is needed.

          Just thinking out loud here. Maybe the safety car could work if the heavy tractor is not allowed to be employed until the safety car has all cars behind it. I don’t know. I’m really for anything that will work.

          1. Ericsson’s spin would have put him in no danger, though. Unless the tractor is directly next to the track, they’d have a hard time spinning underneath it.

            1. The point was that the safety car doesn’t cover off all risk.

            2. I think WEC nailed it with their slow zones … 60 kph zones (or even 90) would bring F1 cars to slow speed and very safe by their standards. It could allow marshalls to work on track (or close to) on most cases and bring driver into the safe zone. A crash at 60 – 90 kph in F1 can hardly cause injury to drivers.

              And it minimizes the disruption of the race, so many time does the safety car modify the order of disrupt a race.

        2. @joey-poey. And yet Indycar has a worse safety record than F1.

          @bullmello, I think the sensible solution will be an enforced speed limit on the affected section of track, easily doable now with so much data from the car now available to race control, it could be as simple as the pit lane speed limiter or with a little development time a stepped control knob for pre-set maximum speed/torque settings.

          1. Indy car’s poor safety record I believe is limited to ovals during green flag racing, so that’s not really applicable to saying it’s not worth looking at for translation to F1

          2. @hohum – I think the speed limiter idea has some potential.

        3. The safety cars in Indycar are both longer & more frequent, Its been a major complaint amongst fans of that series for the past few years & its one of the reasons often put forward as to why some people don’t watch the series.

      2. I wonder if modern technology wouldn’t allow for a speed limiter to be applied by race control to all the cars at the same time. Like the pit lane limiter, but remote controlled. So all cars would suddenly be limited to, say, 100 kph. No safety car, no “bunching up” the field or cars unlapping themselves, just everyone going equally slower. It may not help in specific situations where the marshals need a relatively long time with no cars going through, but it would suffice in the majority of cases, I believe. And it would be much less disrupting.

      3. I have raced at kart circuits where as soon as a yellow is indicated, the cars slow down. It is even done sector by sector, so that you slow down only in the crash sector. I don’t see why in this day of standard ECUs and remote telemetry, the FIA can’t introduce a simple system which safely slows cars down in the vicinity of an accident, and then speeds them up in other areas.

        Essentially a remote controlled WEC style slow-zone in the area of an accident.

      4. +1.

        Those cars are safe. Jules his a super heavy steel structure that was not suppose to be there. In such conditions. It an error of judgment from those who decided to continue the race under double yellows when drivers have previously reported aquaplaning at 80 kmh (Vettel, first SC period).

        So the breach on safety has nothing to do with car’s structure but F1’s policy. FIA failed in Geramany when they sent marshals to remove Sutil’s car in Germany without deploying SC and FIA should have deployed SC before Bianchi’s crash at Suzuka.

        What would a closed cockpit do in that particular situation?

        If the idea goes ahead, what kind of refrigeration systems will they install? How many drivers will retire due to AC failure? Certainly glass will get blurry at some circuits…

        For the lack of day light? Easy. Like in football or Abu Dhabi circuits starting races at 15:00 or later should have artificial light.

        1. sorry for the typos guys.

      5. It brings excitement in the same way that DRS, rubbish tyres, double points and fanboost do.

        F1 needs to be more clever than chucking a safety car out every time someone goes off the track or else it’ll turn into Indycar. Frankly, there is no reason to watch the first 80% of an Indycar race because everything will be reset once someone inevitably crashes near the end.

        Slow zones are the way forward. Limit the cars to “X” kph whilst in the slow zone and have the cars do it automatically as opposed to being driver opperated. That way the cars don’t bunch up, the race isn’t ruined, drivers don’t lose a lead they’ve built up and the whole race doesn’t become a lottery.

        1. We already have the architecture for slow zones in F1 – double yellow flags. We just need to sufficiently reduce the speed drivers are allowed to go in that zone. Personally, this is a better solution than the safety car in the vast majority of cases.

          Remember, the pace behind the safety car is slow for an F1 car. But the safety car is hooning it round the track – what’s to prevent the safety car having an accident?

          1. Yeah good point about the speeds the safety car is doing…. Who is to say the safety car going at top speed wouldn’t have aquaplaned into the tractor or marshals?

    2. Closed cockpits could help but in some situations, just like open cockpits do. Extraction could be difficult, what happens if it’s raining? do they have windshield wipers aswell? what to do with fogging up?

      It has many cons and a couple of pros. But I don’t think it’s truly essential in this game. If Indycar’s yet to adopt it… closed cockpits work for bigger cars, with doors and stuff. So my initial reaction would be “no, we don’t need them”.

      There quite a few hazzards that need to be adressed before adopting such a drastic change ie recovery vehicules on track, or standing starts after SC periods coming next year (starts being the most dangerous part of any GP).

      1. RainX and RainX Anti Fog – Awesome stuff, give it a shot on your car at home!

        1. Things like that are used in racing but Don’t always work in a race car.

      2. More importantly, what about the really hot grand prix, such as Bahrein, Abu Dabhi (maybe?) or Singapore?

        1. Yes they would surely need aircon.

      3. We often hear of drivers getting hot or burned by sources of heat inside the car – particularly with the new hybrid power. Magnussen in Singapore was the most recent one.
        In the confined space of a cockpit it’s bad enough, but in an enclosed space it’s dangerous.

      4. Couldn’t agree more.

      5. I agree, there’s definitely going to be pros and cons to the canopy idea. Bianchi’s tragic accident has brought the idea of canopies into the spotlight right now. But I’m sure if F1 were to adopt canopies, eventually there would be a crash, something would happen to a canopy, and people would be talking about removing the canopies again. It’s just what happens after shocking events like the one on Sunday.

        I’d only adopt canopies if it can be shown that it would be necessary for safety and not have a negative impact on the sport in any way. As others have said wouldn’t an enforced speed limit at the affected part of the track be effective?

      6. It’s almost guaranteed that a car will catch fire eventually after a large crash that damages the canopy release mechanism and everyone will argue that they should be removed.

        The issue on Sunday wasn’t a canopy or lack of. It was the multi-ton tractor removing Sutil’s car that Bianchi slammed into.

        I’m amazed how many seem to have completly missed the point. There is nothing you can do to an F1 car that will make it safe to smash into the counterweight on the back of a JCB at high speed.

    3. I just don’t see how a closed cockpit would have helped Jules. If I understand correctly, his injuries are due to how quickly he stopped, NOT because he physically hit the crane. It’s an awful situation and I dearly hope he recovers, but I don’t see how a closed cockpit would have helped. however, Massa’s freak accident a couple years ago could have been avoided with a closed cockpit.

      1. Exactly. I’m not sure why this issue is being brought up at the current moment, but the injury he suffered was due to the rapid deceleration of the car, so a closed cockpit would have done little to help him.

        1. @dryyoshi
          Was it just rapid deceleration? Or did his head (helmet) make some form of contact with the crane?

          1. I saw some impact on his helmet in one of the pictures. From what I understand, his injuries are due to deceleration, not hitting the side of his head on something.

        2. Rapid deceleration by contacting the head with the tractor? I think with a simple cage around the cockpit would be enough to add a bit of cushion so that the speed can be reduced before the head making a contact with something.

          1. Are airbags feasible?

            1. @timothykatz even before Senna’s death in 94, the FIA had tested airbags, however, they found that the speed that the drivers reach, that the pressure required to blow up the airbag in time before the drivers head reached it, caused the airbag to be as hard as rock, and didn’t provide any cushioning effect. In a standard passenger car, airbags work because of the slow speeds us mortals travel at. I think beyond 200km’s an airbag becomes lethal when deployed.

      2. Obviously a closed cockpit wouldn’t have worked at all, I mean if the titanium roll hoop was destroyed pretty much anything else would have.

        But it is more of a preventive solution, either that or we wait for the next “freak” accident to see if it was really needed.

        1. The discussion in regards to the Bianchi crash should firmly be on how to effectively make slow zones on track to provide safety to all drivers and marshals without going to a SC. And how and if tractors (immovable objects in regards to f1 cars) are used in recovery.

        2. Maybe because the roll hoop was meant to withstand mainly vertical force? I think this kind of impact is rarely happens (if at all) where the force of impact was mainly horizontal but just above the main body of the car. Usually they rely on the body of the car itself to absorb horizontal force.

      3. Hmmm,

        If what many are saying is correct, and his head didn’t come in contact with anything, then I’d have to agree a closed cockpit wouldn’t have made that exact situation any safer.

        The thought of how the accident COULD have played out sends shivers down my spine.

        Closed cockpits are inevitable. The question is, what type of preventable accident will it take before it’s implemented?

        Alonso’s near miss in 2012 at the Spa GP should be more than enough evidence alone to suggest canopies.

      4. I have watched the video frame by frame and it unfortunately looks like his helmet does hit the tractor on the left hand side (which resulted in a sudden deceleration). A canopy may have deflected some of the energy, but it is hard to know whether it would have been enough to help.

    4. I think a roll bar/s instead of an actual closed pod would be better. They’d perform pretty much the same purpose and would solve a lot of the issues the closed pod creates.

      1. I think the bigger reason would be to avoid accidents like Massa’s 09, or Alonso’s and Bianchi’s near misses with objects. I do believe roll bars would be better, they wouldnt create create problems with air conditioning, fog, windshield wipers, etc. Drivers could still get out pretty quickly, I assume.

      2. Thats the sort of design the FIA were leaning towards, However there was a lot of concern from the drivers about visibility which is already more limited in an F1 car than the drivers would like.

        This is the final design they came up with after testing various different designs-

    5. A closed cockpit would not have helped Bianchi, apparently his injuries are a result of rapid deceleration which induced a shearing action on the brain tissue – common in many vehicle accidents. The only safety improvements that can be reasonably derived from this incident are regarding the deployment of recovery vehicles and associated personnel together with the ongoing review of run-off areas and barriers at problematic sections of track.

    6. I would rather the focus on safety be towards keeping F1 cars and heavy tractors away from each other. I don’t pretend to have the answer for exactly how to do that, but it surely can be done.

      1. Exactly. Much work has been done to improve the safety of F1 circuits so that if Bianchi went into the barriers he would have walked away – tractors on the other hand are still a dangerous object.

      2. Agreed. I have always disliked the thought of recovery vehicles being on the inside of the barriers. It stemmed from the 2007 European Grand Prix when a Toro Rosso touched a recovery vehicle and I remember thinking that could’ve been a horrible accident in different circumstances.

      3. damn right

      4. ColdFly F1 (@)
        9th October 2014, 6:04

        @bullmello, I agree but it is not enough!

        Without the tractor Bianchi’s car could have hit the marshal who was behind the tractor.

        They need to find a solution to make it safe for marshals as well.

        1. @coldfly – I agree, the safety of the marshal is just as important. Whatever the solution, it should keep the tractors and cars apart and protect the marshals too.

    7. Night race in Russia? Can someone please explain to me the appeal of that.
      The cars look awful on TV with muted colours, we can’t see the crowd or the surroundings of the circuit and it adds nothing in terms of racing.
      Having one or two is fine just for novelty but actually night races look pretty depressing to me.

      1. Be good for hotels though, only locals could go straight home from the race .

      2. ColdFly F1 (@)
        9th October 2014, 6:09

        @mantresx, “we can’t see the crowd”
        I doubt there will be a crowd anyway – except maybe for year 1.

        But I agree with you that we don’t need more night races.
        I suggest 1 city centre race (Monaco), 1 night race (Melbourne), 1 Bernie race (try his gimmicky ideas like spraying the track).

        1. @coldfly I understand that your comment was more an off the cuff remark, however, just an FYI. The current climate, taking into consideration, state politics, f1-detractors, save albert park protestors, and a general lack of interest for holding a night race on a temporary street circuit in Melbourne, there really is a very small chance that we will see a night race being held in Melbourne in the next 10 years.

          1. ColdFly F1 (@)
            9th October 2014, 15:07

            @dragoll, I was actually rather serious. It could be Melbourne or Montreal, as you want the ‘circus’ to stay in town after the race.
            Make it a Saturday Night race (John Travolta to fly the Qantas plane). And leave the lights on afterwards to grow the grass back and even the ‘save Albert Park’ protesters will be happy ;-)

      3. Now everybody wants night races… Jesus!

    8. I too do not believe a canopy would have been safer in Jules crash, in fact I think it highly likely it would have been ripped off the car like the roll hoop and Jules head would have suffered even greater injury as it was pulled out of the canopy by the still fast moving chassis to which he was attached. Canopies no doubt would help with lighter flying debris such as wheels and suspension parts but are likely to be deathtraps in more severe accidents.

      1. Agreed, @hohum . As discussed many times before, canopies solve some problems, yet create others.

        I still believe the answer for this type of accident is somehow keeping heavy tractors and F1 cars apart. I think Martin Brundle would agree with that too.

      2. I think you’re spot on there @hohum. Canopies aren’t a magic cure-all for safety issues in F1. A considered reaction to the Bianchi tragedy and the lessons that can be learned from it is needed more than throwing canopies onto F1 cars.

    9. I would like to call again for more durable intermediate tyres, no matter what you think about rapidly degrading tyres in dry races you can’t deny that tyres that degrade rapidly on a fully wet track are not just a tactical problem but a safety problem.

      1. The current inters/wets are not designed with High-deg like the dry tyres are, There actually designed to be as durable as possible.

        The thing with the inter’s is that they need to be designed to have a big operating window so that they work in the wet (When new) but can also be run right upto the point in which its ready for dry’s.

        At Suzuka remember that it hadn’t rained for over half hour & the track was drying, As such the tyres would have started to heat up & the treads would have started to wear, Not because there designed to degrade ‘for the show’ like the dry’s but because thats the best thing for an intermediate tyre to do on a drying track. If you had an inter that retained its grooves forever then it would be hopeless in damp conditions (That was the problem with the early Michelin inter).

        There is an issue of a worn intermediate having less grip if it starts to rain again & thats why you see drivers fitting new inter’s if it starts to rain. But as I say thats not because there designed for the show, There just built the way a good intermediate should be in order to get you to a point when you can fit dry’s.

        1. @gt-racer, OK, thanks, but several drivers felt the need for new inters even before the track started to dry, and then of course when the track was getting wetter the drivers were loathe to change to full wets because they perform so poorly.

    10. Don’t like the idea of closed cockpits.

    11. I don’t really care if the solution is more safety cars or something different, but something needs to be done about yellow flags in general. Double waved yellows past an accident scene is fine in my opinion IF the drivers actually slow down significantly. The problem is that at the moment they don’t slow down enough, and to be fair it’s not really the fault of the drivers. They’re paid to go fast and if they slow to walking pace past an accident and the driver behind just lifts, then that following driver will catch up in no time. I don’t know what the solution is, maybe something similar to the Le Mans ‘slow zones’ should be considered – it doesn’t have to be a speed limit, but maybe reduced engine power or something… I’m sure they could work out a solution that makes double-waved yellows more meaningful and forces drivers to slow down more, but if they can’t then I’m perfectly happy to see more safety cars for the purpose of driver safety.

      I was calling for the safety car in my mind when Sutil crashed, several laps before Bianchi went off, but it never came.

      1. Does FIA issues or orders an annual report on F1 “officiating”? If so, I’d love to see that because this year has not been good for them.

        In my book the decision to keep SC in pits while a Sauber was sitting in the middle of the road in Germany with marshals in the scene was the worst decision in recent years. In light of that event, waving double yellows after a crash at super wet track with reducing light was not as bad… SC was certainly the best call (Captain Hindsight helps here) but FIA misjudged the situation again. Some other calls did not involve life threatening accidents but letting Rosberg penalty less at Spa was wrong in my book as well.

    12. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      9th October 2014, 1:12

      Personally I don’t want F1 to go to a closed cockpit solution. It being open cockpit is one of the defining things of F1.

      F1 cars as they currently are right now are about as safe as they can get. It’s not about making the cars safer, it’s about making protocol changes to the way on track operations happen, like JCB’s retrieving stricken cars. There really should never be any vehicle in the outskirts like that ever. This kind of thing was just waiting to happen.

      The first thing that needs to happen, in the case of an incident like the one Bianchi had, is to have proper cranes on the outside of the crash barriers, that reach over the top of the fence to lift the car, so that no trucks need never enter the run off zone.

      Secondly, Pirelli (or whoever is going to supply tyres) needs to make the performance gap between the Intermediate and Wet tyres much smaller. Drivers shouldn’t be risking their lives on intermediates in heavy rain just because the current level of water on track isn’t sufficient for the full wets, but too much for the intermediates. There’s your safety problem right there.

      The cars these days are so safe that it requires a freak accident to actually poke holes in the safety of them. I don’t think freak accidents should be covered, because they are exactly that: Freak. Totally unpredictable, and completely in avoidable.


    13. Cars wreck.. Drivers get out unscathed. therefore, cars are safe!

      Bianchi hits a CRANE. *CRANE* …has brain injury.

      The cars are clearly safe. Cranes in the circuit however, are NOT safe. Cockpits are a gimmicky answer to a problem that doesn’t exist.

      Or to put it in a more human health oriented metaphor:

      Stress, and hormones cause arterial inflammation.
      Cholesterol is part of the body’s defense mechanism to repair this inflammation.
      Your doctor prescribes you anti-cholesterol medication to solve the problem.

      Get it? These things cannot be inside the circuit – especially when it’s raining!! I’d rather watch the cars parade behind the SC for a few laps if it means ensuring that someone doesn’t fly off and hit the recovery vehicle.

      Why is does it seem that casual fans can think of solutions like this while the people capable of manipulating the sport come up with ridiculous ideas instead? I’ve heard of The Peter Principle, but I didn’t realize that stupidity ALSO increased with each promotion!

      harsh? i know. Can’t help it…

      1. My two cents:

        As you note quite eloquently, trying to solve a bad procedure with an equipment solution comes across as gimmicky because it’s avoiding what really happened. So why is everyone jumping to a closed cockpit?

        Processes require analysis and insight, as they often deal with low frequency high loss situations, while equipment solutions are visible and concrete, and you look like you’re doing something that will work 100% of the time. 100% feels better than statistics and expected utility.

        On a deeper level, though, I think people realize that this safety issue points to collective responsibility for not advocating for and implementing a simple and obvious protocol on heavy equipment inside the barriers. It would take brutal self-honesty to admit as a group that THEY are in some way responsible for not adequately protecting Jules under bad conditions by not responding appropriately to previous near-miss incidents. It means admitting “we weren’t paying attention all those other times.”

        To me, the closed-cockpit subtext is: “Since all existing procedures were correctly followed, the only way to prevent something this horrible in the future is a controversial solution that completely changes the nature of the sport. Nothing short of changing the nature of the sport would have saved Jules.” These are all smart people. But they’re the same as the rest of us when it comes to being human.

      2. Yep that about sums it up. Closed cockpits are a knee jerk reaction to a problem that isn’t there.

        Recovery vehicles with padded sides is pretty straight forward..that or keep them behind a barrier with a longer crane

        If an f1 car crashes into a tree do we add anti tree crashing technology to the car or do we move the tree?

      3. A cockpit may or may not have helped Jules – I think more detailed analysis by professionals is required to really know that one. But I disagree that a problem isn’t there. Felipe Massa is likely to agree that things hitting drivers heads is a problem. And more recently we’ve probably all see the dramatic on board shots from Alonso car at Spar. There definitely IS a problem – it’s just probably not one related to this accident.

        Personally, I would simply drastically reduce the maximum speed under double yellow flags – people keep mentioning the slow zones. It doesn’t ruin the race by eliminating hard won gaps and artificially changing the order, and reduces the speed of the cars on the track to those similar to the safety car in the area they’re needed. If the safety car is slow enough, so would a stricter double yellow limit.

        I’m still at a loss to understand why canopies weren’t introduced after 2009. If they’re good enough for fighter pilots to see through (they are) then they good enough for F1 drivers at the slow speeds they do. The problems of misting/air conditioning are trivial really. And not bringing in a safety a safety feature on the grounds of aesthetics? Such an argument is disgusting, and certainly no better than saying that the risk of Bianchi’s crash is an acceptable price to pay for avoiding the interruption of the safety car.

    14. Good article by Maurice Hamilton, as usual.

      However, I cannot see Fernando, or Sebastian for that matter, wanting to be each other’s teamate. Fernando in particular is hell bent on winning his 3rd title, and the last thing he needs is a “distraction” on the other side of the garage in his pursuit. Seb hasnt exactly set the world alight this year. After getting licked by Danny Ric, he probably wouldnt want to be up against Fernando. Further to this, its going to be Honda’s first year back, I doubt they would want to deal with the potential fireworks between their two drivers.

      Its probably true that both of them did visit the Mclaren office, but Im pretty sure each camp would have had its ts and cs, which is probably why the “discussions” are still on going. As many have said on here and in the F1 world in general, it appears that Ferrari have conceded that their restructuring plans arent going to bring immediate success and Seb has time on his side. Driving the difficult Ferrari would undoubtedly make a much better driver than he is today.

      Barring a massive surprise, its Alonso to Mclaren and Seb to Ferrari..its logical..but then again..this is F1 afterall!!

      1. And how does it fit with Lewis Hamilton signing for McLaren as well? (Or is that just a certain website talking out of its pitpass?)

        Maybe the rumours about 3-car teams were wrong after all, and McLaren will be running 4 cars…

    15. now broken glass will easily decapitate anyone in a similar incident! yay!

      insanity has clearly taken deep roots now.

      just dont allow any construction vehicles on an active racetrack.

      1. They surely wouldn’t build canopies out of glass.

        1. The sad part is no one would build a glass canopy because its heavy, not because of safety.

          1. The canopy problem has been well solved for many years now. Glass isn’t considered for very many reasons.

        2. you mean polycarbonate? i saw the tyre impact test videos. but has this test been done to see what happens to the same material against a 15 ton bulldozer at 200kph?

    16. Like I said the other day with regards to closed cockpits-

      Putting closed cockpits on the car is easy, However solving some of the problems that woudl arise is not.

      For instance you have to ensure the canopy can always be opened. I remember reading something from a fighter pilot some years ago where he pointed out that any movement of a plane’s bodywork can cause the canopy to jam shut so they have to have explosive bolts installed to ensure the canopy can be quickly opened even if the plane itself has suffered damage.

      There’s also the distortion which is narrow canopy would produce. It happens on planes but is less of an issue as they rely more on instruments. On a race car when you have to look for your apex’s & have a good idea of cars in close company, Its not ideal.

      Then related to visibility is what happens in the wet or if you get other dirt or oil sprayed over the canopy? You then have to look at some sort of wiper system, But with no roof structure or without the sort of room you have in WEC for instance where do you fit the wiper system? And even then how do you get it to clean the entire & not just a small area at the front of the canopy so the driver has full visibility.

      There’s a reason closed cockpits have been talked about by both F1 & Indycar but have been tested/adopted by neither.

      1. You can’t really compare LMP cars to F1 cars when talking about closed cocpits as the regulations on car height/width etc… are completely different.

        Looking at things like adding Air-con to keep cockpit temperatures down, There’s far more room to do that in an LMP car compared to an F1 car. The air-con systems take up a big part of an LMP cockpit & thats space that an F1 car (As a single seater) does not have.

        Its the same with the canopy itself, an LMP car has a roof structure, Its far wider so while its closed cockpit it doesn’t actually have the sort of canopy that an F1 car would have.
        The canopy system an F1 car would have woudl be narrower & more rounded to surround the cockpit so there would be more distortion, There would be no roof structure for a wiper system, There would be no doors to help get drivers in/out because there isn’t the room for that.

      2. @gt-racer Good points. Although re air con: with the much shorter duration of F1 versus endurance events, you may be able to get away with a cool suit system rather than air con. Would require much less space and weight, is low tech, effective, and could be recharged during a pit stop if needed.

        1. Hm, I think several drivers have already used something like a cool suit in the past (Button, I think Heidfeld, maybe some others), it helped them for the first 45-60 minutes of the race more or less. A closed cockpit would be far hotter though inside with the sun on it for all the time @slowhands

      3. Military pilots primary source of information is visual. Yes, there are many instruments they can use, but if the conditions are suitable (VFR) their first port of call is looking outside the cockpit. Distortion is negligible.

        As for aircon, change the regs so there IS room for aircon. You could even make it mandated unit so eliminate development costs.

        Not sure about the rain problem – it’s not an issue in aircraft as the airflow sufficiently clears the screens – don’t know if the same would apply with F1 cars.

    17. Adding to the speculation about Sebastian Vettel, His race engineer from STR (Riccardo Adami) has just been signed by Ferrari.

      Additionally his chief engineer at Red Bull (Kenny Handkammer) unexpectedly left the team just prior to Suzuka & talk has him going to Ferrari as well.

      There was also a seemingly baseless bit of speculation in the German media yesterday which had Hamilton going back to McLaren with Alonso replacing him at Mercedes.

      1. i think that vet to ferrari and alonso to mclaren, is the most plausible scenario. But then again, how great would it be to get to see those big champions fighting each other with the same car. Alonso has already thrashed Kimi and Felipe, who seems to be rather quick with a good car, don’t they? Anyway, if that miracle happens, then my money surely is on Alonso

      2. Yeah, I think there are quite a few signs that Vettel is headed for Ferrari @matiascasali, @gt-racer, although it seems the deals are not yet quite ready (surely they would have announced them if that was the case).

        Sure enough, I am fully convinced that Ron would like such a line up (as would Ferrari, Williams and maybe even Horner), and it makes sense for him to talk to both (more options, better negotiation position) and for Vettel it makes sense to talk to McLaren a bit, even if just to make sure he gets a the best deal he can get at Ferrari. But is that going to make it happen? I wouldn’t bet on it.

      3. Is there any chance that the reason we’re not seeing any deals confirmed is some form of waiting to see if the 3 car/team thing will happen? LdM told the italian press on monday that he thinks 3 cars/team will be on course for 2015(and that Bianchi would’ve occupied the 3rd seat). I know Luca likes to talk rubbish and Ferrari propaganda, but it fits the flow of the market a bit. @gt-racer @matiascasali @bascb

        1. Luca doesn’t need to talk rubbish anymore, since he’s in his way out. Anyway, a third car seems unlikely. If there’s a reason not to announce it, as James Allen said, it’s because it’s on next monday that Marchionne takes the Ferrari Office, and he might want to start with a huge new, like Vettel joining in (and, even when everything points as i’ve said about Vettel to Ferrari and Alonso to McLaren, Alonso didn’t say he was leaving -ok, he didn’t say he was staying neither- so, how about a bigger bomb, and have Alonso and Vettel in Ferrari? oooooh i love silly season :D )

    18. While there are a lot of extremely clever engineers looking into closed cockpits for F1 cars, I have a hard time envisioning how any of the ideas floating around out there would have prevented Bianchi from sustaining serious injury in that very specific type of accident. With Massa’s incident in Hungary, having a fighter jet sort of canopy might have seen him simply carry on racing, wondering what the big bang was, and I suppose that it’s worth looking into. In poor Jules’ case though, I can’t imagine that a bullet-proof canopy would have been of any help at all. And a surrounding roll cage (again, in this particular instance) probably wouldn’t have helped much either, and could well have made his extraction more difficult, possibly even causing him additional injury (given what would be the very narrow confines of an F1 car roll cage). Mandating pit lane speeds through accident/car recovery areas would seem to be a better place to start.

    19. Closed cockpits would simply ruin everything I love about F1. I’m not being melodramatic– this really matters to me, and the openness to the driver really typifies what is great about F1, especially compared to the other racing series. I can handle the annual weird tire rules, ugly noses, double points, and every other odd change they throw at us each year, but to get rid of the feeling that the driver is right there, just using his perfected machine as a tool to get around the track as fast as possible, would get rid of the identities of the drivers which add so much to the sport.

      What’s the point if you’d miss Alonso with his head leaned confidently back and never seeming to change position, Vettel’s casually dancing back and forth through the corners, Massa’s leaning forward almost too seriously– none of this will matter if the they close the cockpits.

      1. What’s the point of seeing the drivers head if the head has been smashed by, oh, lets say, a piece of suspension.

        What you “love” about F1 has no place in discussion about safety.

        1. It’s been clearly established that a cockpit wouldn’t have changed a thing for Bianchi. 20 years between fatalities is pretty darn good too for a very dangerous sport. This accident could have been avoided with a change to procedures, not to the cars. And you missed my whole point with your reductive summation about their mere heads. Go watch WEC, there aren’t any freak accidents in that series.

      2. if your love for F1 only come for seeing some drivers helmet, well… it’s a quite fragile love! is like loving your wife only because she has pretty ears, or something like that…

    20. Keith,

      What a Line up for this year’s Macau Grand Prix!
      Something curious I would like to share. I’ve actually seen Max race go Karts here in the Macau International Kart Grand Prix. Might have some footage of him too. Its going to be fun seeing his return, albeit on the unforgiving Guia Circuit. Merhi is an incredibly fast driver. He took pole on the wet here a couple of years ago by a huge margin, but probably his emotions took the best of him and he crashed out on the start of the race. Someone not to discard is Rosenqvist, who is always fast around here. Ocon last year didn’t perform very well, but he was a rookie. There are only a handful of rookies that won here on their debut, and obviously the headline of that is Ayrton Senna. Its a circuit that blends Monza with Monaco, a truly unique mix.

      The big surprise race for this year is the Macau GT Cup, however. We have practically the top DTM racers and teams racing here “unofficially” (but they are all works teams in disguise). Marco Whitmann comes to Challenge Macau “King” Edoardo Mortara, Augusto Farfus (a former winner with WTCC here), Laurens Vanthoor (Spa 24h winner) Thomas Enge… The rooster of this race and teams- BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Ferrari and Bentley is truly phenomenal. Last year’s race was epic, and it was very bad PR for Mercedes and BMW- they are coming back this year for a “vengeance” (and heavy investment!) can’t wait!

      The Motorcycle Race has the best line-up in Years, with TT Legend John Mcguiness facing of last year’s Manxx TT record breaking rider Michael Dunlup (Son of “The” Dunlop) , Ian Hutchison (last year’s winner), 3 times Macau winner Stuart Easton and of course the legendary Michael Rutter, 8th times winner of this race- the only rider to ever achieve this in Macau Grand Prix History.

      As for the WTCC, I’m looking forward to see what Sebastian Loeb does this year over here. Last year, on a Porsche, in the rain, for the first time, he was 2nd and it was a sight to behold, the way he entered Lisboa Corner sliding as it was a rally car!

    21. Darren Heath @F1Photographer
      #Sochi #RussianGP #F1 circuit is a carbon copy of now defunct #Valencia street track… ie. average!
      12:05 AM – 9 Oct 2014

      It cannot be wrong coming from Darren Heath!

    22. Things we (maybe) know about Bianchi’s accident.
      1. He drives a Marussia, i.e. by definition not an easy car to drive.
      2. He was on intermediate tyres 20 laps old. Should the team brought him in for full wets.
      3. It was his first wet race in F1.
      4. Did he know Sutil has crashed on previous lap, and therefore was not just behind him. This might be one of those unintended consequences of the ban on some radio messages.
      5. Did he slow down enough, or should I say did he slow down enough to be able to stop in that waved yellow area.

      I’ll let you make your own minds up, now. But here’s some other questions.

      Should they have a rethink about the new drivers, such as Verstappen, for next season, in view of the facts above?

      Should the start time of a race be dictated by TV times or should they allow daytime races to finish in daytime. And therefore race start time should be 5 hours, or so, before sunset?

      P.S. Lets ignore this idea of cockpits until the facts are known, personally I don’t think it would have made much difference in this case. (I come from a family full of medical people, but I am not one of them. 2 doctors + 1 training at uni, 1 dentist, too many nurses etc. to count)

      1. @W-K “Should the start time of a race be dictated by TV times or should they allow daytime races to finish in daytime. And therefore race start time should be 5 hours, or so, before sunset?”

        Absolutely. Maybe 4 hours would be enough but I agree with Gary Anderson “it makes no sense to run at a track where it gets dark during the regulated four-hour slot.”

        European fans would have to get up earlier in some cases but I do not mind. After all, fans in the other parts of the world often watch F1 at crazy times of the day.

    23. After several days of thoughts on whether we can have much hope for a recovery of Bianchi, and uncertainty and stories ranging from 90% never wake up to reports Bianchi is breathing unaided shortly after the operation, Its nice to read a story that does give hope.
      CART Racer Roberto Guerrero suffered a similar kind of injury in 1987 in a heavy crash while testing. He fully recovered and returned to racing within a remarkebly short time. Now all medical situations are certainly unique, so this can’t be taken as a prediction of how Bianchi will fare, but it does show there is no reason to give up on him –

      1. @bascb Thank you for the link, it was an interesting read. We can only hope at this stage that Bianchi can be as fortunate.

    24. ColdFly F1 (@)
      9th October 2014, 6:32

      Without the crane Bianchi’s car would probably have hit/killed the marshal (the one behind the crane).

      I do not want to be alarmist or a sensationalist. But any accident is a complex set of circumstances and needs to be investigated from all angles (like they do with airplane crashes).
      In my opinion there are too many people jumping to conclusions and calling for banning tractors, proposing enclosed cockpits, more safety cars, etc. These might all have helped in this instance, but can create other risky, or other unwanted, situations in the future.

      Let’s wish Jules and his family and colleagues the best, and leave the full investigation to some independent experts.

    25. That palm tree look awesome.

    26. I don’t think a blanket rule to cover all racing is needed, just one for racing in very wet conditions. Extending the double waved yellow sections to 2 flag posts for example with the 2nd one being covered by pit lane speed limiter. Only in cases where it’s wet and there are marshals or recovery vehicles removing a car. Double waved yellows should be enough in the dry.

      Secondly, is anyone looking at the vehicles themselves? Why don’t they have bumpers around them at the level of F1 cars? So if there is contact it’s like crashing into a normal barrier and there’s no chance of the F1 car going underneath it?

    27. I think the author of the Telegraph article has missed the point. Firstly, I do not think that a lot of those fans, who started watching F1 after 1994 (like me) agree with him that “mortal risk is, to the sport’s helpless romantics, an enticement rather than a deterrent.” I do not watch F1 because drivers could die and I would think it’s exciting. Maybe it was the case in the seventies but the sport has changed. (Safe) crashes, collisions and unreliability should be part of F1, injuries and casualties should not.

      I also do not agree that “the battle to reduce F1’s inherent risks and safeguard the drivers is at odds with efforts to preserve the essence of the sport”. I think that all these fantasies about the “DNA of F1” do not help the sport move forward. To me, it is important that F1 remains a sport where the best drivers / cars win instead of a pitiful show that has been made “exciting” by fanboosts, double points and other senseless gimmicks that have nothing to do with being the best driver or car designer. I do not believe that covered cockpits, wheel guards, more asphalt run-offs or more safety cars would do any harm to the so-called essence of F1. The same goes for three-car teams or customer cars. For sure, I might not be happy about all these things and alternatives should be discussed but they will not destroy F1 either. F1 has been changing all the time since 1950 and it should keep changing. If things need to be done to improve safety and close the obvious “holes”, then please do that instead of making up DNAs and essences that do not exist.

      Rant over (for now).

    28. Claire certainly likes that DNA buzzword :) but closed cockpits would not have helped the marshals had bianchi ploughed into them.

    29. An windscreen like the sixties is a much better idea. Cockpits are still open but incoming debri is deflected by the windscreen. Also if you make it very strong like a fighter jet it could act like a roll bar. Atleast it would deflect the car from the heavy digger.. So a half open cockpit is much beter.

    30. Cockpit covers are a bad idea for the many reasons that many have pointed out in this topic.

      F1 needs consistency of approach in several areas, these are just a few thoughts

      1) recovery equipment, these could be purpose adapted with tech-pro or similar energy absorbent barriers around the hard bits, could they go from circuit to circuit with the teams?

      2) consider dedicated, trained recovery crews for these vehicles, travelling from venue to venue with the circus, occasionally we see a real pantomime going on whilst they try and work out what to do with a disabled car

      3) remove the ban on certain types of radio message, it may well have been the reason Jules didn’t slow down, engineers debating whether they could tell him Sutil wasn’t there any more. Thinking time for race engineers and drivers is short enough without this nonsense.

      4) if the technology to disable the DRS exists, then surely this could also be used to restrict throttle to a fraction of ‘full’ for ‘yellow’ sectors of the track, Charlie Whiting could slow everybody by the simple press of a button. The speed limitation could be turned off directly before the leader passes through the zone after the safety concern is lifted.

      5) consistency of CoC/stewarding, the picking up of debris incident in the German GP was appalling and a much more obvious error than Suzuka, could so easily have been another ‘Tom Pryce’ if the marshal had stumbled.

    31. Anyone remember Brazil T3 in 2003? 6 cars off in the same place, so quickly the overhead crane couldn’t keep up. What did they do? Bring on a tractor! While more cars were still cannoning in.

      They need to change the process. It’s been an obvious, OBVIOUS fatality risk all these years. Now the one single positive legacy from Bianchi’s accident can be the energy to make a recurrence impossible.

      1. @lockup Nurburgring 2007 is another example. I agree with you, I actually have often thought “hopefully nobody else spins off there” when seeing marshals / vehicles on the track. Rain and poor visibility increases that risk significantly. So I do not think that Bianchi’s crash is something that could never be imagined.

        1. @girts Yes Nurb 07 was a very near miss you’re right. Liuzzi? Hungary this year too, when KMag iirc slid on at T1 and a tractor appeared immediately, right in the firing line.

    32. Please stop with this closed cockpit nonsense. Are people really stupid enough to believe his injury’s would’ve been less in a closed cockpit? F1 is an open formula, the second it isn’t, the second it dies.

    33. Ok this has to be asked…. Bianchi appeared to go under counterweight on the tractor which had around a foot of ground clearance. Would the incident have caused the same injuries if F1 cars still had higher noses?

    34. I think the only real factor in this whole accident is the speed Bianchi had under waving yellow flags. Had he been forced to go at say, half the normal speed through that corner, it would not have mattered if he spun. He would either have stopped well brefore any obstacle or lightly hit something. When Ericsson spun under SC he stopped almost immideatly. So speed is the main thing to look at.
      I think the least invasive system is the safety zones of WEC. It also has the adwantage of being tested and operational. The F1 laps are relatively short so it should not be that hard to make all cars go through the speed reduced zone an equal number of times. If it enforced when the 7th placed car approaches the zone, that car is also the first to go through at green speeds.
      In my view a SC is much worse since it screws up everybodys race anf takes away any timegaps gained.
      With modern telemetry it should be very doable to set a fixed max speed similar to the pits speed limiters.

      1. @Greup the thing is that an impact at 10mph can be fatal when a 600kg car is being stopped almost instantly by the driver’s head because the car tub has slid underneath.

        So while it’s true that the probability of an off is related to speed – up to a point – the risk of fatal injury isn’t eliminated by any means.

        IMO they have to get rid of the tractors from trackside. In most or even all cases they could use a long rope I would think, occasionally with some rejigging of the barrier entrances maybe and a stanchion or two.

        1. Great points @KeithR. It will probably be lots of changes, large and small. “Softening” any veichles like tractors and making it impossible to slide underneath is one that can be done on all circuits. Specifically for suzuka can be to remove the grass outside the Dunlop Curve for example. If you take the point of impact and draw a line to where Bianchi probably lost control, he was on grass a lot ot the distance travelled.
          But i do think enforcement of speedlimits is key and SC is a more disruptive way of doing it compared to Safety Zones.

    35. “The problem in our cars is when it gets dark, you can still see, but we have very bright lights on the steering wheel, so they are kind of irritating us. We have a very small view from the helmet, and then where there is this bright light, which is normally set up for the maximum brightness in let’s say sunny conditions, otherwise we can’t really see. But in dark conditions it affects the eyesight a lot. In those last laps with all the spray and the drops on the visor it was really hard to see.”
      Every high-end smartphone has a screen that automatically adapts to the luminosity and now we are saying that Formula One cars don’t have that? You must be kidding, right?

      1. @paeschli Well, they’re not designed to be driven in the dark. (Singapore is flood-lit as bright as day.) That is a function that is not supposed to be needed, so they may have overlooked it (it seems that things can be overlooked in F1). Even with their headlights, any endurance racer will tell you that dusk and dawn are extremely challenging to navigate, much more so than the middle of the night even on sparsely lit tracks. That dim mid-light is physiologically in-between the peak sensitivity bands of the retinal cones (bright light) and rods (dark)– neither are functioning in their optimum range. Any bright lights in the cockpit so close to eye level will make that even harder. And mist and rain scatters any existing light and reduces contrast even more. That’s why running F1 races into dusk in the rain is a really bad idea– and just asking for trouble.

    36. Good facts given by you.

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