Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2015

New solutions sought to open cockpit dangers

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2015In the round-up: The FIA is considering new approaches to the dangers posed to open-cockpit racing drivers by debris in the wake of Justin Wilson’s fatal accident.


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FIA set to carry out closed cockpit tests (Motorsport)

"The latest idea is for cars to be fitted with a series of different height vertical blades around the front of the cockpit, which will deflect debris but also not hinder a drivers' escape from the cockpit."

Safety is paramount but motor racing will never be run without element of risk (The Guardian)

"Impact tests revealed that a hard polycarbonate version shattered and an aerospace canopy flexed too much. An alternative, placing a roll hoop in front of the drivers was rejected by the F1 strategy group as too ugly to implement."

Bandwagons and drama queens (Carlin)

"At such a tragic time it’s easy to be seen to be jumping on a bandwagon with knee jerk reactions and no doubt my opinions will provoke criticism. But I wish I had written this piece earlier as the loss of our friend Henry Surtees stays with me everyday and I dread the inevitable next tragedy. Justin’s cruel loss has prompted me to finally comment."

Max Chilton believes F1 will have closed cockpits in five to 10 years (Sky)

"There are dangers to having them, because if you are trapped you can't get out, but from what I have seen in the footage they are super strong. I think we just need to find a way of making it so that whatever type of crash you have you can get out 100 per cent."

Hamilton wonders if it is all some crazy dream (Reuters)

"And to think I’m fighting for my third world championship, which he had, and have now got the same amount of podiums as him... it’s almost like a crazy dream that I’m going to eventually wake up and find out I’m working at McDonalds or as a dustbin driver."

Rosberg urged to up qualifying form (Autosport)

"Asked what Rosberg had to do to regain the momentum, Wolff replied: 'Get half the job done in qualifying. That is crucial to getting off the line in the lead.'"

Mexican GP circuit on course for September completion (ESPN)

"We have completed the first level of pavement around the track and expect to have the other two completed within the next three weeks."

My notebook at Spa (Joe Saward)

"Renault has been looking to buy the team for months but has been hesitating because, apparently, they are worried about what they might find if they buy the team in its current state."

Justin Wilson – A towering talent and a great man (Racer)

"I was pleased to start a few grands prix, pissed when it fell through, but when I started looking at chances here in the U.S., I just realized that’s where I should be. I don’t think I’d have dealt well with all the political bullshit in F1."

Women in F1: Susie Wolff 'may quit at end of 2015' (CNN)

"There doesn't seem to be many opportunities for next year to get onto the grid. This is going to be a winter of reflection because either it happens or it doesn't"

Lewis Hamilton F1 Summer Break 2015 (Lewis Hamilton fan page via YouTube)


Comment of the day

Justin WIlson, Andretti, IndyCar, 2015There were dozens of comments from readers on the tragic death of Justin Wilson:

This is a truly sad day. I spoke to Justin a few times and you couldn’t wish to meet a nicer guy.

All the tributes regarding his great character that you see and hear today will be sincere and true.

My heartfelt best wishes to his family and friends.
Sean Newman

From the forum

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On this day in F1

Ayrton Senna took his fifth victory of the 1990 season on this day 25 years ago. However it took three attempts to start the race following major first-lap crashes:

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  • 101 comments on “New solutions sought to open cockpit dangers”

    1. Is this the third or fourth time the FIA have looked at protecting the drivers’ head in recent years ?

      I appreciate that it’s a difficult problem to solve given the current design of the cars, but maybe they could use the upcoming changes for 2017 to look at changing things dramatically so that instead of trying to incorporate a new protection structure into the current formula, they start with a blank sheet of paper and design a formula that has the structure as an integral part of the design.

      1. You sir are a genius! Honestly that’s a great idea, however, I’m sure all the teams would refuse on cost grounds.

        Maybe Mr. E could give all the teams a MUCH larger than normal share of the revenue at the end of 2016 to offset the additional R&D costs of the all new Canopy Integrated Chassis and then just return back to normal revenue sharing at the end of 2017

      2. Gee why didn’t they think of that! Oh wait…..because its more complex than that. Sorry if I’m being rude, but it is a complex task that requires political maneuvering plus the technical implementation.

        BTW @keithcollantine, Thanks for not leading with the story of Hamilton getting close to Senna’s records. I feel that would have been too distracting and would lead to a divisive 2,000 comment section of Pro Hamilton vs Anti Hamilton fans. Good to see some restraint and consideration.

        1. Yep. Fitting today to remember there’s a reason why Senna’s records aren’t a whole lot higher.
          It’s lovely to see, though, how a desperately sad day has brought out the best in some racing writers who have managed to make it into something rather uplifting. Particularly appreciated David Malsher’s tribute in Racer.

        2. @sudd

          the story of Hamilton getting close to Senna’s records

          That’s not really something for the round-up – it was in Monday’s Stats and Facts:

          Incidentally, the potential reaction to a particular story or angle is never a determining factor in whether or not it should be run.

          1. @keithcollantine Love that final sentence in your answer to Guy. Thank you for that. Just one among several reasons why this is such a quality site.

          2. @keithcollantine,

            “Incidentally, the potential reaction to a particular story or angle is never a determining factor in whether or not it should be run.”

            Well that’s a flat out lie. Don’t pretend reactions are never considered. Everyone has a filter.

            Btw, there is a big difference between running a story and leading with it. Don’t pretend to underestimate the power of headlines.

            I was trying to pay you complement. Sad what happened to Justin Wilson but you could be accused milking it for writing 18 articles about the tragic event.

            1. @sudd What always surprises me when I get comments like this (using someone’s death for a cheap shot is a new low, by the way) is why people who apparently consider me a cynical liar even bother reading F1 Fanatic in the first place.

      3. The head is a liability therefore it’s responsible to look at alternatives.
        The FIA ought to answer to the question of the hour. Can this situation occur in their Formula series 2015? Do Formula cars shed life threatening pieces of bodywork?
        I understand that it’s with the urgency of tragedy that change is enforced. I hope there won’t be some knee jerk reactions, and political moves that would in the end ridicule the people affected by tragedy. One very recent example is the idea of a SPA’s raidillion kerb. That kerb was there to force drivers to slow down their approach to raidillion and restricting the area off the track. In the end you know what happened.

      4. yeah, they should take the opportunity and incorporate the knowledge gained and ideas they have about how to better protect the drivers into this new and fancy looks 2017 design. Introducing faster cars and leaving the safety part out of it “for now” would surely be the wrong thing to do @beneboy

      5. One thing that I feel they could do to help is tethering the nose, side pods and rear wing. They do it with the tyres, so why can’t it work with other parts of the car. The tethers just have to short and strong enough to keep them close to the car but also keep them from hitting the cars driver. I think it would be a lot cheaper than a closed cockpit and it could be implemented as soon as next year. I’m just throwing the idea out there

      6. After Massa accident i wrote about halfopen cockpits i really think a windscreen (restrenghtend) will solve a lot of accidents what happend the last 4 fours.
        The F1 cars of the sixties had those screens and i was really charmed of those. LOTUS 49 for example
        For the current F1 cars you must think like fighterplane cockpits without canopy. With a windscreens like that Massa wouldn’t be hit and made strong enough accidents like in Japan and probaly the case when a testdriver drove into a lorry would change the severity of the injuries.

    2. On a totally different note from my comment about… I loved the Lewis Hamilton video. I love the fact that he is living life to the fullest and enjoying himself when he gets the chance.

      It’s obvious that he is still keeping up with his work and his intelligence with the car is not affected. Look at the way he knew not to over work the clutch on the first formation lap at Spa in case there was an aborted start. He learned that lesson from the previous race in Hungary when his clutch got too hot and the Ferrari’s beat him off the line. That’s a lesson the supposedly more technically stronger Nico Rosberg missed.

      Also, give the events of the last 48 hours, I think we can all appreciate how important it is to live life to the fullest because it gone be taken away in a second.

      1. Some people think one cannot “live” and “perform”. Good to see Lewis having fun off the track without hurting his performance on track.

        1. Seems obvious to me that Hamilton needs to live to perform.

          1. Yeah it seems he feels he needs to this activities to relax. I quite admire his energy since i am not like that at all. When i go to vacation for example i end feeling more tired instead of relaxing because the whole trip, going around exploring unknown places etc tires me out.
            To truly rest i need to just stay home in bed but Lewis seems to actually feel more rested and relax after going to a tone of different places and doing all sort of things.

    3. Closed cockpits, better protection for the driver’s head needs to happen. Sooner than later. It can be done.

      1. it has been done. it’s called wec or nascar or some other series that isn’t F1.

        1. Then what is F1’s excuse for not implementing it?

        2. If this is an argument that F1 needs to retain open cockpits for the sake of tradition, get a better argument.

          1. +1 each for Massa, Surtees, de Villota, Bianchi, Wilson and probably a few more i can’t think of. Massa was lucky to live through that and i don’t think anything would have helped Bianchi, but i’m getting tired of this. Hell, a couple more inches and Raikkonen could have been pretty seriously hurt and that’s not the only time a crash like that has happened. Wasn’t it Schumacher that had someone’s car go over him a few years ago?

      2. What happens when an F1 car crashes and catches fire, then the new closed cockpit is stuck and the driver burns to a crisp in front of millions on TV and thousands in the stands?

        “GET RID OF THESE CLOSED COCKPITS NOW!!!” … they will scream.

        I bet more accidents occur when the cockpit fogs up in steamy singapore or malaysia.

        Don’t just knee jerk comment please…

        Think … “what are the alternatives… and are they safer?”

        The stone cold truth is Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi were victims in freak accidents (Wilson in a far more dangerous category of racing) and there are no good alternative measure that don’t come without their own inherent risks.

        1. @resort2spa – I used to have notions similar to yours. I believe technology and ingenuity can help to find a way to protect driver’s heads much like all the measures taken to protect the rest of the body. It is not impossible.

          Don’t just knee jerk comment please…

          I have been a racing fan since the mid 1960’s. I don’t do “knee jerk”. Closed cockpits is a subject I have admittedly waffled on for years. Through incident after incident and still found reasons to go along with open cockpits. It used to be tradition for race officials and race fans to stand virtually right on the live F1 track. Should we return to that?

          Wilson in a far more dangerous category of racing

          Open cockpit is open cockpit. Did you see how close the underside of Alonso’s car came to Raikkonen’s head in Austria? A slightly different angle could have produced a disastrous result. Drivers need more protection for their head from all size objects.

          Think … “what are the alternatives… and are they safer?”

          Exactly. This needs to be a process to find the best way to protect drivers from as many contingencies as possible. Think – possible, instead of impossible. This can be done.

          1. I think their are ways to protect the drivers from debris or a head smash like Jules (RIP).

            But do the benefits outweigh the negatives and potential risks?

            That is the question here… and I am sure the brightest minds are on the case.

            It is a risk analysis

            Open cockpit risks – v – closed cockpit risks

            The final result has to be “the one with the least ‘net risk’….”

            As it stands… I am on the “open cockpit team”.

            For example…

            Imagine any number of the incidents where the car has caught fire and the cock pit won’t open and Webber, Heidfeld etc etc are trapped in a flaming burning F1 car.

            The horror would be unimaginable and the fallout would be immense.

    4. Apex Assassin
      26th August 2015, 2:30

      Lol I got caught up replying and nearly forgot what I wanted to ask:

      How are they going to enclose [the cockpit] for MotoGP and Motocross then? I’m all for safety and protective measures but to put an end to open cockpit is a mistake.

      1. @Apex Assassin, apples and oranges, my friend. Or as Nico Hulkenberg would say, “apples and pears” lol!

        BTW, what’s so special about open cockpit other than being able to say “open cockpit.” Other than tradition, open cockpits have nothing going for them.

        1. @sudd I always though it’s open because it’s more functional for racing and somehow mitigate the risk posed by cockpits in accidents (because they couldn’t be like rally cars with special steel structures to protect the driver in case of crash).

          I doubt it’s open for no reason. Evolution is part of our lives, if they can find a better solution I would not object in the name of heritage.

          Let’s hope the closed cockpit doesn’t become a trap in case of crash.

          1. In the early days it was thought that an open cockpit was safer because a driver would be “thrown clear” in the event of accident – it was the same with road cars too. They used to catch fire easily as well. Nowadays we have the statistics and testing that shows seat belts and crumple zones are safer than being jettisoned from the car. A debris shield of some kind for the head is another development in that vein imo. It’s not like it will change racing substantially.

        2. spoken by someone who doesn’t race.

          what’s so special about motogp or anything?

          and to disregard historical significance is as daft as change for the sake of change.

          racing is dangerous. more so at places like Spa and Suzuka. if you don’t like it, feel it’s not worth it, then don’t do it, don’t watch it, don’t spend money on it. leave to the ones who love it enough to risk life and limb for their passion.

          1. Should historical significance stop changes from happening? A daft argument if I ever saw one.
            Is an outdated formula supposed to stay that way because of tradition? No, F1 needs to move forward.

            1. Nah, F1 needs to keep open cockpit. It’s in the DNA. Everyone knows the risks and, given F1’s safety record, for me the risks are acceptable.

            2. @f1bobby

              for me the risks are acceptable

              Neither a smart nor a particular thing to say considering it’s not your life/health the one that it’s at risk.

          2. MotoGP – as I’m sure you are aware – is a racing series for motorbikes. Where a) It’s not technically feasable to implement enclosed cockpits (even if that made any sense). and b) being able to part from the bike mid crash is safer in the types of crashes that motorbikes have. The energy involved in a bike crash is much lower than in an F1 car, and the mechanisms for surviving it need to be different.

            You might as well ask why skydiving doesn’t take place in an enclosed cockpit.

            F1 doesn’t really have a valid excuse for implementing this.

          3. + a billion or so…
            the difference between having your head (or body legs etc in MotoGP) in the open when compared to a closed cockpit is absolutely huge and a major factor in the difference between the skill and physical requirements of each type of racing.

            I am not going to state one is harder than the other but having raced all three, I can assure you what was harder for me and every other normal person (By the way of comparison, next time you see a moto GP chap stick a leg out – try putting your arm out the window of your car at the speed limit – then figure out the effect squared for each mph speed increase! Then argue its easy)

            Bottom line – it saddens me that we currently assume F1 is ‘easy’ because of TV technology improvements and smoothing of footage rather than accepting that your head and/or body parts sticking out in the wind makes for a far harder environment in which to work than ever racers are given credit for.

            A cockpit while perhaps noisier is frankly far more friendly on the senses. It is completely different. Would F1 use open face helmets if they could choose? And before anyone starts – yes I have as said, raced all types.

            Are we then in today’s silly negative world that because now everything is fitted with a cockpit – that it’s too easy?

            We are already complaining such!

            Honestly get a grip folks or at the very least try it yourselves before commenting.

            On the safety aspect – I used to reach 160mph plus and 3G plus in an open environment with no belts or safety harnesses. It’s called superkarts and for example some of the (disabled) best ex moto GP racers enjoy such too. Even with terrible injuries that finished careers.

            Ever wondered why?

            Because closed cockpits do not provide the same sense or experience of being on the edge. Why because they are all things being equal, easier to do and divorced from the very reason such racers enjoy things of that nature.

            Just my thoughts. No doubt lighting fires.

            It is horrid when people are hurt are killed doing what they love but the risks will always be there. A nanny state in racing would do better to avoid issues such as Spa and stop trying to sanitise all aspects of risk.

          4. Wow, Assasin, you’re a rather special kind of person. You come on to a forum discussing the steps that might be taken following the death of a human being this weekend and your response essentially: Screm’em

            Spoken by someone who hasn’t dealt with the results.

      2. LOL, they have two wheels less

      3. They don’t really need closed cockpit on two wheels that much. When cars crash there are lots of flying pieces in order to dissipate energy. A bike weights much less and so there are much less flying debris. And i don’t really remember a bike losing a wheel that is bouncing across the track…

      4. Bike riders can use “airbag” equipped leathers, which helps. But a bang to the head will cause big problems however you do it – MotoGP’s Marco Simoncelli died in 2011 of head, neck and chest trauma sustained during a race at Sepang.

      5. They can’t fit seatbelts to bikes either.

      6. I’m all for safety and protective measures but to put an end to open cockpit is a mistake.

        I strongly disagree for several reasons.

        * In the event of an accident, a driver has more chance of being struck by flying debris than becoming trapped by a stuck canopy.
        * Closed cockpit allows for more efficient aerodynamics.
        * Closed cockpits would allow the driver to sit higher in the cockpit without sacrificing either safety or aerodynamics. This would improve visibility and reduce the chances of an accident occurring in the first place.
        * A closed structure allows for a stronger structure for the same weight, or a lighter structure for the same strength.

        There are more, but that’ll do for now.

        1. @drmouse dead on. although drivers probably would not end up sitting higher… teams sacrifice a lot optimize center of gravity.

        2. @drmouse Your first point…pure speculation. And what about a car upside down? How do they get that driver out without flipping it right side up but without the ability to stabilize his head/neck while that is going on?

          Closed cockpits might not be looked at as efficient aerodynamically, but rather punching a huge hole in the air that reduces airflow over the back half of the car.

          No team would want their driver sitting higher and thus raising the center of gravity. Visibility is not a concern right now or they simply wouldn’t be as low as they are now, and a canopy would only raise the C of G and give more reason to keep the driver as low in the car as possible.

          A closed structure might allow for a stronger structure, but I doubt for the same weight, however they could always make up for the added weight other ways to keep the overall weight the same as now.

          1. The car upside down argument can be solved with side doors, like in prototypes. People mistake a closed F1 cockpit for jet-style canopies. It needs to be more in line with a prototype so a driver can escape or be removed while the car is upside down.

          2. @robbie

            Your first point…pure speculation. And what about a car upside down? How do they get that driver out without flipping it right side up but without the ability to stabilize his head/neck while that is going on?

            As mentioned by Michael above, the answer to getting the drivers out of an upside down car can be solved. Doors are one method. As for my point being speculation, well, maybe. I see it as a greater risk, especially as a complete new design could incorporate methods of getting the driver out.

            Closed cockpits might not be looked at as efficient aerodynamically, but rather punching a huge hole in the air that reduces airflow over the back half of the car.

            I’m sorry, but this is tosh. Look at the gaps and irregular shapes introduced in an open cockpit. It is the same as having the window open in your car, or the top down. It introduces turbulence and creates drag. The frontal area of the car will not necessarily increase, but a smooth shape will make for more efficient aero, just as covering wheels would.

            No team would want their driver sitting higher and thus raising the center of gravity. Visibility is not a concern right now or they simply wouldn’t be as low as they are now, and a canopy would only raise the C of G and give more reason to keep the driver as low in the car as possible.

            I’ll give you that the CoG would be raised, but by a minimal amount. Your would be talking about a few centimeters higher for the drivers head, which could be accomplished by seating angle. You may say visibility is not a concern right now, but how many accidents would be avoided if a driver could actually see those around them, and the corners of the car? If necessary, the FIA could mandate a higher seating position.

            A closed structure might allow for a stronger structure, but I doubt for the same weight, however they could always make up for the added weight other ways to keep the overall weight the same as now.

            There is a reason convertibles are always heavier than their closed cousins, and why box section of the same weight and composition is always stronger than a U section. Closed structured are always stronger for the same weight and composition than open, and closed structures are always lighter for the same strength and composition than open. It is basic engineering.

        3. Well it would safer if they didn’t have to go around corners, or if they raced at 20 miles an hour, or safer still if they didn’t race at all – I think that’s the end goal really.

          At some point if your number one priority is safety you’ve kind of lost the essence of what made the whole thing so appealing.

      7. They have windscreens which deflects debri …

    5. Im not sure if people here know but F1 Racing is doing an interview with the only and only Maldonator for its next issue and boy have I had fun with it. I’ve asked questions such as:
      1. If you had to pick 1, which one of your accidents best describes your career as a driver?
      2. Would you ever consider moving stateside and compete in monster trucks?
      3. Does your wife ever let you drive her to the shops?

      *Just thought it would be fun to spare a laugh on ol’ Pastor due to the tragedies of the last few days. I hope changes come to honor the legacy of those who lost their lives doing what they love

      1. Haha good ones!

    6. The cockpit issue should not be approached simply from the view of how one retrofits a canopy to an open cockpit car, though an interim measure may be useful. It’s a contradiction in terms and would be only a half measure at best in practice. The modern formula car needs a rethink. Open wheels and cockpit are anachronisms, stemming from a time when reducing mass was the main critical design issue, aerodynamics were primitive, and safety not even a consideration. The single fuselage design with appended suspension and nacelles for cooling or this and that is like a silent movie. It’s 2015 not 1915. Let’s move on to a modern racing car. That car would have driver protection integral to the design—we would not be adding carbon tubes here and padding there to make incremental improvements in protection, while leaving a driver’s skull shielded from extreme impacts by nothing but 50mm of helmet. In this way we could also make emergency egress as much of a non issue as it is in other series from wec to NASCAR.

      1. Michael Brown
        26th August 2015, 3:57

        Agreed. Most against closed cockpits think all we’re proposing is to put a sheet of glass over the driver and call it a day.
        I suspect the reason the cars are so outdated is for the sake of tradition. A weak argument if I ever saw one. Formula 1 is not open wheels and cockpits. As long as they’re single seaters, a redesign of the car is entirely possible.

        1. Agree with both of you. Many things once considered traditional in F1 and IndyCar have been done away with over the years in the name of safety because of the plain and simple fact that cars are so much faster today. This can be done and racing will still be exciting. I think some people are looking at this situation as the end of F1 when it is actually an opportunity to continue its logical progression.

        2. I suspect the reason the cars are so outdated is for the sake of tradition.

          I completely agree.

          However, there would be a big backlash from many. It would completely transform the look of F1, which matters a lot to some people, and there are many “traditionalist” supporters who would be outraged by a move away from open wheels and cockpits.

          1. There are dangers with cockpit covers and without. As it stands they are open and no matter what the opinions are on closing F1 cars up their are opinions the other way so as they are now open the argument will be in fa our of open cars. Anyway covertable road cars are safe… but they have a windscreen… god thats the answer.

            On that note a BACs Mono has no screen, nor some Caterhams, Radicals etc. They are more likely to get hit by things falling off goods vehicles, jealous chavs throwing bricks etc.

    7. I think it’s important to not be too rushed in coming up with a solution when everyone is all caught up in the situation. We’ve known this is a risk for a while and without a fundamental redesign of the formula it’s a hard problem to solve. Not to mention that with all of the complaints about F1 ‘losing its identity’ recently – which I think to an extent is true – the last thing we need is a total change of the concept of the cars.

      Lets have a look at the latest concepts that have been put forward.

      Mercedes “Halo”

      Regarding this new “halo” concept Mercedes have put forward, it looks a bit silly. But let’s put that aside for now, I think there are more important issues.

      Firstly, I’m fairly sure that it will impede the driver’s vision reasonably significantly, because there’s no way they’re going to be able to make that front part strong enough without making it thick. Even a few centimetres that close to the driver creates a reasonably significant blind spot right in front of them, poitentially hiding important things like the rain light of a car immediately in front.

      Even if it doesn’t impede vision, there are other issues. Firstly, whilst a driver can’t be “locked in” like they could with a canopy, it would still make escape more difficult. If you watch how drivers get out of open wheel cars, they get their arms out to the side and push themselves up. It looks like this would make that difficult, particularly for larger drivers. I suspect it would also be much more difficult to extract a driver should they have been injured or even knocked unconcious, so it would be beneficial for the “halo” to be removeable anyway.

      Another problem is that this looks like a part that would be hard to standardise (as it has to integrate with the headrest and engine cover), and it looks like a wing, so it’s open to aerodynamic exploitation – something that you don’t want on a safety device.

      Finally, and most importantly, I don’t think it would be that effective. There’s plenty of room for a dislodged spring or other piece of debris to fly through the gap and hit the driver anyway. So what’s the point?

      Blade Concept

      I haven’t seen any concepts of what this is supposed to look like, but my understanding is that basically it’s going to be a bunch of thin pieces of carbon fibre (or metal I guess) in front of the driver, sticking out of the chassis. Unlike the halo concept, I think this would be easy to regulate and prevent aerodynamic exploitation, and it would be less restrictive to a driver trying to get out. However, I can’t imagine how they would provide strong and significant enough protection against realitively small, heavy objects (like the spring that hit Massa) without significantly impeding vision. I’d be interested to see what they could “get away” with but I don’t think this is the solution.

      What do I propose?

      I think some sort of strong, transperent protection that the driver can see through and cannot really be exploited aerodynamically is the way to go. I’m not sure if canopies are the way to go, but they are a possible way to go if they can guarantee a release system that will always enable the driver to quickly release and throw aside the canopy, or should they be unable to due to injury or, although it is less likely, lack of conciousness; then safety crews should be able to quicly release the canopy from the outside to extract the driver.

      However, the racer and fan in me says that regardless of how dangerous they may be, open cockpits is part of what makes formulae like F1 and IndyCar what they are, so if we can maintain that then we should. I think we should look into “windscreens” on the car (although in this case a “shield” or “half canopy” is probably a better description, as it is not the wind we are concerned about). This is not a new thing – both F1 and IndyCar have windscreens already, but they’re tiny and provide no protection – I don’t even know why they’re there. I think though that we should look into extending this to be a bit taller than where the top of the driver’s helmet is (obviously this varies, so a set height would have to be set that would cover all drivers easily), and to taper off down the sides so that the driver is protected from anything coming from the front – protecting against a large amount of the dangerous debris. See my sketches here, hopefully they’re good enough so you can understand what I mean. In any case, I think this would at least make a good shorter-term solution if canopies are favoured, but haven’t yet been totally worked out.

      1. The biggest problem with the transparent canopy is distortion of vision which is going to hurt the visibility far more than a big stalk up front like you have with the Mercedes idea @vmaxmuffin. It is a bit of an issue with prototypes already but they have far wider cockpits.

        And that is before we get into more mundane things like how to clear rain and dirt off the screen and where things that hit the screen will bounce off to.

        1. @bascb The distortion of vision is negligible, and would be quickly adapted to. I base this on experience with aircraft cockpit canopies, at speeds significantly higher than F1 and with a far greater need to maintain visibility.

          Rain/dirt on the screen is a bit of an issue. Fast jets solve this largely by simply going fast enough to blow it off. I don’t know at what speed that becomes viable though.

          1. Off course if you have piloted several of those, and have experienced that one gets used to it easily, that might be a bit of a positive because F1/race drivers should be about as adapt at that as jet pilots in their reactions/visuals @fluxsource

            But lets not forget that in an aircraft you do not have to fly within sometimes less than an inch from your opponents quite that often.
            I take it as a fact that distortion of vision already was an issue on Spitfires and it is still there in more modern aircraft, just as it is noticeable in sportscars, and on F1 cars the canopy would be narrower and therefore the issue would be more pronounced.

            And yes, dirt etc is a serious issue for F1 cars. Its not just about speed, but also about being close to the ground and racing other cars in a limited space for 2 hours at once. Just look at the dirt buildup/tyre debris buildup on wings etc during a race. This would definitely give issues with visibility because of dirt/oil buildup on the canopy.

      2. @vmaxmuffin – “However, the racer and fan in me says that regardless of how dangerous they may be, open cockpits is part of what makes formulae like F1 and IndyCar what they are, so if we can maintain that then we should.”

        I used to agree with that school of thought. Not any more, it’s time to move past that notion. Much the same way that fans and even race officials used to stand pretty much right on a live track. That was done away with even though some people probably said it was against tradition to not allow it.

        As others have mentioned it probably is time for a redesign for F1 cars. Even if it means setting a new definition of what an F1 single seater race car is.

      3. I personally find the Mercedes concept quite elegant, it is yet to see if it really impedes the drivers, a test should at least be made.

        1. @spoutnik I’m with you. At first glance of the pic I thought ‘oh wow cool.’ That design to me has real potential.

          Just a few random thoughts. I don’t think anyone is ‘rushing to knee-jerk reactions.’ They’ve had this on their minds for a long time. If they have bolstered their efforts to invent designs, that’s great. That’s on the drawing board. There will be no rush to implementing a final solution without extensive testing and agreement amongst all relevant parties.

          In terms of a canopy, or a halo deflecting something like a tire over the catch fence and into the spectators, that can just as easily happen today off the nose or the air box, or even one of the very tires of the car that is being struck.

          Let’s keep in mind the last Indycar race, not for the first time, was a race that held accident after accident all race long, with a minority of the cars finishing intact. With such a number of violent accidents per race, the odds of something bad happening increases greatly. F1 is not in that same boat, not that I am trying to minimize the potential of any one single accident. Indycar’s ‘fenders’ introduced to prevent wheel on wheel contact seems to have only minimized that type of contact, not contact in general. Indycar has had some horrendous and numerous crashes in recent years. Perhaps they should limit their high speed oval races to the historic Indy 500, and stick with short ovals of lessor speeds, and road and street courses otherwise.

          A solution needn’t be thought of as them having to come up with the be all and end all solution that will forever and ever prevent another injury from debris from ever happening again, but can certainly bolster safety to some degree. I certainly don’t agree with the suggestion that a canopy would have still been penetrated by the bolt that hit Barrichello, the spring that hit Massa, or wouldn’t have mattered for Bianchi and therefore is not a solution. In all cases even if the canopy were ‘penetrated’ it would have absorbed/diminished energy that otherwise went to these drivers’ heads and therefore potentially diminished their injury. Same with Senna. Not that I’m suggesting a canopy can work. Seems Merc thinks otherwise and there sounds like a lot of good ideas why they wouldn’t, but perhaps a variation of that and/or the halo. Perhaps the halo with a couple of flat angled polycarbonate pcs for a windscreen for small debris, that wouldn’t distort vision due to curvature.

      4. Here’s an image of the “halo” cockpit:

    8. “Impact tests revealed that a hard polycarbonate version shattered and an aerospace canopy flexed too much. An alternative, placing a roll hoop in front of the drivers was rejected by the F1 strategy group as too ugly to implement.”

      REALLY??? No way! And I bet the front crash structure of the car shatters when it hits the wall head on too! So therefore it must be useless and we should throw those away as well.
      Can anyone really be that stupid? I’m sorry, but that is the entire point of the structure: To absorb the impact. Yes, it’s going to shatter or warp or whatever. The point is that all it had to do was deflect enough of the force away from Justin’s head and we’d be talking about how frustrated he was to be out of the race….and looking forward to the season finale. Instead we have this horrible news and twits making excuses as to why they haven’t acted yet.

      Perfect is the enemy of good. Massa would not have been knocked unconscious with a polycarbonate cockpit and Justin would still be alive. I have not seen enough of the Surtees accident to know how heavy that wheel was and what angle it struck at. But there’s a good chance it could have deflected it enough that he would not be gone either.
      Even if it was just 1 or 2 out of the 3…I’ll take it.

      1. I think the point was that is shattered too easily to be much good protecting the driver @daved

        1. Exactly – in Massa’s case the spring probably would have punched through the polycarbonate structure and struck him on the head anyway, so it is questionable whether it would have actually made a significant difference to his injuries.

          As for the front roll hoop, whilst they might have cited aesthetics there, another reason why it was not popular was because it also significantly obstructed the vision of the drivers.

          As others have said, although the proposal for an enclosed cockpit does have some merits, at the same time it needs to be considered in a careful manner given that it could cause other issues. The FIA’s medical teams, for example, have raised questions over whether a closed cockpit could impede access to the driver and prevent them from providing prompt medical treatment, so it is something that is not easily resolved.

          1. Agreed. There are a number of factors that would need to be addressed the most basic of which is probably how to ensure that the canopy can always be removed even when the chassis is damaged and things have shifted. Additionally they would probably need a standard design so safety personnel don’t have to learn 10 different systems and methods of extraction.
            I’d assume another thing they will want to consider is how to add the canopy without the car looking like a LeMans car as I’m sure they will want the F1 cars to be distinct.
            I think taking another look at Ferrari’s concept from the early part of the season is the path they might take but that big a shift would take years to implement.

          2. anon,
            I’m sorry but that is simply wrong. It is absolutely, by the laws of physics, WRONG. The polycarbonate windscreen would have absorbed much of the kinetic energy of the spring which struck Massa AND it would have deflected it to a lesser angle if not caused it to miss altogether.
            The kinetic energy is 1/2mv^2. Massa was traveling ~200kph when he struck that spring. If the polycarbonate slows the relative speed between Massa’s head and spring down to 100kph then he get’s 1/4th the impact. It also would have deflected the spring by X degrees and we have Massa with a scratch on his helmet and an interesting story to tell his kids. As it was, he could have easily died.

            We have to talk about the actual physics in these discussions. Nobody is claiming that a canopy would completely stop objects. It doesn’t have to, anymore than the crash structure in the nose of the car is supposed to stop all injuries when a car slams head-on into a wall. It’s job is to absorb as much of the impact as it can to *minimize* damage to the driver.

            Everyone has to stop talking about whether the solution is perfect and completely stops every impact. That is not possible and not even the goal in these cases. It has to work to lessen the damage and we have less deadly injuries.

          3. @bascb I meant to flag you as well on my reply above. I know what you’re saying, but “they” are wrong. This is the problem when you have people who are not experts trying to do these experiments. I’ve seen cases where the US and UK were both doing research on the old “firing frozen chickens” at canopies and engines to assess damage. You’d be amazed at the mistakes they make and they are experts at this stuff.

            Shattering is part of the expected/needed behavior, just the way a crash structure crumples or shatters in the body of the car. But ask yourself this: If you are the one with a 5kg nosecone coming at you at 200kph, do you want it to hit you directly at full speed or would you rather have a polycarbonate canopy to deflect it to a degree and to absorb some of that energy?

            It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to help.

            1. But if the material shatters and only slows down or deflects an almost unnoticeable amount, then the purpose is not served by installing this on the cars @daved.

              Sure enough, i did not read all the original/source materials of the studies, but in all articles in several languages the official result of FIA studies was that it shattered too easily to be worth the effort.

            2. @bascb
              I’m sorry, I’m truly not being rude, but this is important. It is simply a FACT that Justin Wilson would be alive today if he had a canopy.

              The testing by the FIA confirmed this but nobody wants to take the time to read the reports, they just hear the headlines such as “The windshield shattered”, etc. HOWEVER, that doesn’t answer the question: Did it work? YES! It worked.

              Also, it ignores the fact that *other* test, the canopy, had scratches, but no further damage. Only the windshield test shattered.

              Here are the FACTS:
              In their tests, they used a pneumatic cannon to fire a 20kg wheel assembly into a the canopy at 225kph. This equals an kinetic energy of 39MJ. The results:

              “But visually,” says Mellor, “it was possible to see that the windshield did manage to deflect the wheel over the space that would be occupied by the driver’s helmet, but in so doing it sustained significant damage.”
              The canopy, however, deflected the wheel assembly suffering no permanent deformation. And viewing the canopy impact in slow motion shows it flexing to absorb impact energy, before ‘launching’ the wheel and tyre away.
              “The full canopy manages to deflect it over the top, and very little damage, if any, was visible after the test,” says Mellor. “There were tyre transfer marks on both windshield and canopy, but on the canopy there was no apparent fracture. It shows that it’s quite an elastic material and that it’s very efficient at providing a load path to keep the wheel and tyre away.”
              Full scientific results of the firings were recorded by six accelerometers and they have now been presented to the Formula One Technical Working Group.

              The nose cone that killed Justin weighed only ~3.5kg and was estimated to have about 5MJ (only 1/8th the energy from the FIA tests).

              It is simply a *fact* that Justin Wilson would be alive today if he had a canopy on his car. It’s not something we need to debate or question here, it is simply a *fact*.

              People misquote and conflate things. Would it have worked for Jules? Most likely not and that is what people confuse. But that was a completely different accident.

              For Massa, Justin and Surtees, it would clearly have worked.

              For an easy to read source: aimss(dot)com(dot)au/cockpit-canopy-test-full-story/

            3. @bascb @robbie

              Oh, and I see I got careless…it was 39kJ NOT 39MJ. Megajoules would be a bit over the top. But you guys really should go check out the website I mentioned above. When you see the videos of how well the canopy worked, it’s embarrassing to even be having this discussion.

              But back to the original point…the reason that people see just the headlines and assume that they’ve been given the whole story is not really their fault. You have people with agendas who simply don’t want to change the sport spouting THIS line from the report:
              “An executive summary reports that the firing into the 30mm-thick triple-layer (3x10mm) polycarbonate windshield resulted in it being shattered as it deflected the wheel and tyre assembly.”

              HOWEVER, they leave off the next line of the report:
              “But visually,” says Mellor, “it was possible to see that the windshield did manage to deflect the wheel over the space that would be occupied by the driver’s helmet, but in so doing it sustained significant damage.”

              And they totally leave off the fact that the *canopy* test worked completely and had ZERO damage. They only talk about the “shattered windshield”.

              As @velocityboy and others have pointed out, this is not a panacea. How do you deal with a car turned upside down and on fire? However, someone please show me a car that was upside down and on fire in the last 5 years. Now let’s see how many times drivers were struck in the head by flying debris. Not even close. Massa, Surtees, Hinchcliffe, Wilson…others??? How close was Chilton from Kimi’s tire assembly last year at Silverstone? Clearly inches in that case as well as others. Only luck has avoided many more deaths or serious injuries.

            4. Oh, sorry folks. Didn’t realize we could post actual links on here. Thanks keithcollantine :)


            5. On the full canopy – there the issue was rather that it indeed let the tyre “fired” at it bounce away, but in a way that was deemed to pose far too large a risk of getting over the catch fencing and hurting the viewers there. And yes, it still gives the issue of both how to extract the driver as well as how to solve visibility from distortion and buildup.

              As for the polycarbonate, surely if the team thought it would be worthwhile they would have recommended it? I agree that a crash protection being destroyed in an accident is not bad as such (it means it absorbs part of the energy), but it has to be proportionately to make sense.

              And no, I am not at all “confused” by the Bianchi accident. Apart from not hitting anything that would dampen the impact (i.e. tyre walls etc) there was nothing that could have saved him once he got speared towards that crane. A closed cockpit would not have solved anything for him.

            6. @bascb
              “On the full canopy – there the issue was rather that it indeed let the tyre “fired” at it bounce away, but in a way that was deemed to pose far too large a risk of getting over the catch fencing and hurting the viewers there.”

              Complete and utter KaKa. The sidepods could just as easily deflect a tyre or any other debris. That is simply an argument made by people who are looking for reasons not to have a canopy.

              Look, if you don’t like the idea of canopies, that is your right. But it is simply a FACT that Justin Wilson would be alive today if he’d had an enclosed cockpit.

            7. I think we should stop this here @daved. You resort this kind of language and seem to think that everyone who does not completely agree with you is perfectly fine with drivers dying.

              There is a huge difference between how that tyre bounced off the flexing canopy (which works a bit like a trampoline) and how it would bounce off of sturdy bodywork which is not flexible (sidepod carbon layup is NOT made to flex), and if you look at the video’s included in the studies you can easily see the reason of not wanting to risk parts being thrown up in the air in a random direction like that, risking hitting other cars, marshals or people watching behind the catch fence in a wholly uncontrollable and unpredictable manner.

              I am also convinced that saying everything is fine is wrong and that yes, we do need better protection. But I also think that ALL aspects of such a protection should be taken serious before saying which way is best. The FIA are testing some further things next month and in my opinion this should be taken and incorporated into their plans for 2017 and beyond without hesitation.

            8. @bascb
              I apologize for the tone. I’m clearly frustrated with some people who literally say “they know the risks, so screw it…don’t change anything” and people who deny the physics of the solution: “Oh, it wouldn’t protect them anyway because the report said the windshield shattered”.

              I shouldn’t conflate the two and I shouldn’t let my frustrations show in my response to you.

              My contention is that
              1) a driver is in a much better position to survive debris if they have some type of canopy or windshield. They WILL be injured or killed in these situations.
              2) Yes, something bouncing off a canopy COULD injure a person in the crowd.

              But one is a definite outcome and the other is a possibility. How to balance those two is a matter of opinion but I favor going for the one that is definite first: The driver IS going to be damaged by a strike to the head.

              And you can engineer a solution where the windshield or canopy does indeed shatter at some amount of kinetic energy rather than bouncing objects around. That would ruin a drivers race, but so what. It would give him a much better chance of surviving if it took the brunt of the impact energy.

              I’m an engineer and I deal with problems like this all the time. I just want to see logical tradeoffs, not people with an agenda to “keep open wheel racing from changing”. I love the way it is now too, but there are advantages to the closed cockpit besides safety.

              It would have much better aerodynamics as well. I don’t see how the aero guys are not screaming for this anyway???

              Again, I apologize for my frustrated tone. It’s certainly not your fault.

      2. Yep exactly, @daved, a very stupid way to dismiss polycarbonate just because in two particular versions it only slowed down a frozen chicken.

        For me the solution needs to protect from a bolt, among other things.

        1. For my thinking shattered poly sounds too dangerous and can’t be allowed, but I agree in general it’s about absorbing some of the energy from the debris so that the drivers’ head is less impacted. I think one main concern should be access to the driver if the car ends up upside down. With an enclosed cockpit, how do they get at the driver and stabilize his head and neck without flipping the car over or at least on it’s side without risking a severed spinal cord from a neck injury? Come to think of it, how does WEC deal with that? In NASCAR, the driver’s side has no window, but mesh for access to the driver and/or escape by the driver but of course those are full body cars. Nonetheless they’ve taken care of that concern of a car on it’s lid.

          I like the Merc ‘halo’ but would add angled but flat poly windshields with tearoffs that would clean the screens at each pitstop, that don’t contort the view, and would deflect small debris. Being open on top and at the sides allows access to the driver.

      3. @daved – The worrying one for me is that one solution was rejected because it was “too ugly.” Can anything really be that ugly that it’s better if someone dies instead!?

        1. @petebaldwin

          That is a avery pertinent question. Apparently, the “show” manages to trump common sense until some XX number of people die to change it. Unfortunately, that is the way many committees/administrations work. I’ve seen people request traffic lights at dangerous intersections and literally be told by officials that “not enough people have died there to make it a statistically bad intersection yet”.

          The sheer inertia of bureaucrats can often stun anyone who is trying to solve a problem.

    9. It’s yet another shocking incident and thoughts to everyone close to him. But I doubt his passion for racing would have been as great if the cars were slower, safer, and closed. There’s a reason he wasn’t racing stock cars.

      Life and safety is certainly paramount, but we’re just observers (literally). Closed cockpits should only be a driver choice. The drivers have chosen a dangerous sport knowingly, hungrily, and willingly. They don’t want to lose their life, and neither do we, but they see the risk as worth the reward if all sensible and reasonable precautions are taken. But how far do you go and at what cost?

      Like soldiers, the drivers form a close brotherhood where a loss is felt deep, but not unexpected. Racing is by it’s nature dangerous and all drivers know this. They knew this in the fatal 50s and 60s but went on track anyway, and they know it in the incredibly safe modern era. This was a freak split-second accident, and freak accidents will continue to kill on and off the racetrack. Race driver’s die in closed cars, too. Recently some drivers have even been complaining about the lack of danger. Drivers!

      Reasonable precautions should be taken, but not to the point where drivers are too bored to race. In the end what risks they are willing to take is their choice. The only way to make motorsport completely safe is to stop.

      1. Reasonable precautions should be taken, but not to the point where drivers are too bored to race. In the end what risks they are willing to take is their choice. The only way to make motorsport completely safe is to stop.

        @selbbin I completely agree. If you’d talk about run-off areas, I would say the risks of having gravel instead of asphalt are acceptable. But in the case of open vs. closed cockpits, I don’t think we really lose anything, so why not?

      2. @selbbin And I absolutely disagree. If we follow that logic, we might as well go ahead and take out seat belts and crash structures. Let’s go back to the days where they raced on open roads and if they hit a tree, then so be it. Hell, let’s get rid of Doctors. You get an abscessed tooth? Yeah, you’re probably gonna die. The flu? Yep, you’re probably gonna die from dehydration and diarrhea.

        That logic seems ok to some right now but it’s on the wrong side of history. The things I said are simply crazy when viewed by today’s standards…but there were plenty of people in the 50’s and 60’s who thought that “real men” race on the edge and they know the risk.

        And in 10-15 years, people will look back on racing with an open cockpit and wonder that it could have ever been accepted as well. The closed cockpit does not change the racing anymore than all the changes above did. Nobody is saying that racing has to be completely safe. Life is not completely safe but taking chances that don’t need to be taken is simply foolish in the name of “tradition”.

    10. One day they’ll say F1 is too fast and dangerous make it slow, i wonder what made people race back then even though they knew it was dangerous. Safety is paramount but panicking at every incident is silly.

      1. I agree. Why do people do anything dangerous? It’s thrilling and they love it. They knowingly take the risk to gain the value that risk gives them. It’s terrible when drivers die, but it’s terrible when climbers die on Everest, too. They take all the precautions they can but things still go wrong. But they know the risk and believe the risks to be worth it. Many serious climbers find Everest boring, easy and safe, so they tackle K2, a far more dangerous mountain, because facing that danger and living through it is the challenge they’re after.

        1. @illusive , @selbbin – Does it make sense to do known to be dangerous activities in the safest way possible or adopt a devil may care attitude just because everybody already knows this is dangerous? Is it wise to not better protect the heads of race car drivers since they are already doing a dangerous job? Should we abandon all previous safety measures in racing since it is still dangerous? Should we allow fans and race officials to stand virtually on top of a live F1 race course because it is already known to be dangerous and used to be accepted practice?

          This isn’t a panic or knee jerk reaction. Incidents of head injuries or worse to race drivers has been going on far to long for that. How many more injuries or deaths will it take before something is done?

          When Sir Jackie Stewart campaigned for safety changes in F1 and racing in general he was hated and pilloried in some quarters as being full of folly and up to no good for racing. It was argued the crazy safety changes he and others proposed would put an end to racing. Well, racing is still here and much, much safer.

          Is the idea of closed cockpits or some form of safe head protection for drivers an agenda to ruin racing or just part of a logical progression that has been going on for some time now?

          Racing is dangerous. Let’s make it as safe as possible for all participants. This can be done.

    11. The closed cockpit idea needs to be sorted. I find the argument that it’s all too hard to implement closed cockpits in F1 very strange. If LMP cars can have them and they have no safety concerns then why not F1? I would not think F1 or indycars would want to have a split windscreen/sides like an LMP1 but nevertheless if they can do it so can the open wheel categories.

      I would also think that a polycarbonate canopy could still be made to work. Look at the F-16 fighter plane canopy for example. The framework is aft of the pilot and that canopy would be engineered to deal with bird strikes at high speed, certainly higher than F1 or indycar speeds. At the F-16 was designed in the early 70’s!

      Detractors have said that drivers could be trapped in the event of a fire or a rollover. Again, what about LMP cars or even touring cars & NASCAR? They have closed cockpits and marshals and drivers manage to survive. The last major injuries to drivers I recall which could have been avoided through car design (Bianchi aside of course) have been as a result of either tyre to tyre contact or drivers being hit in the helmet. Closed cockpits will at least reduce the chance of the latter. The tech exists. Make it happen

      1. @clay LMP cars are wider with much larger cockpits so a closed canopy is much easier to do than on a much narrower single seater car.

        I go into a bit more detail in this post below-

    12. Would love to see what the F1Fanatic people make of this…
      Considering he is relatively influential, still.

      1. I get a 404 error I’m afraid.

    13. As someone mention a radical overhaul of F1 how about this fantastic updated retro design?

      Stick with the current Hybrid engines or some variation of, use a variation of ground effect which is certainly hinted at looking at that floor design and so do away with the wings entirely to enable easier following of other cars. The roll hoop could be brought forward and the front shielded leaving an open cockpit with windscreen basically.

      Keeping that clean could be an issue but it seem to be one that’s been solved in other variations of motorsport so I don’t see that being a blocker, and there are already a variety of hydrophobic coatings that could be applied to help out here.

      Personally I’d love to see a field of 24 of these things being dragged and drifted around Spa or Silverstone ;-)

    14. Now I look it up I see the Guardian article is 100% wrong with what it says about the FIA polycarbonate tests.

      “It was possible to see that the windshield did manage to deflect the wheel over the space that would be occupied by the driver’s helmet, but in so doing it sustained significant damage.
      “The canopy, however, deflected the wheel assembly suffering no permanent deformation. And viewing the canopy impact in slow motion shows it flexing to absorb impact energy, before ‘launching’ the wheel and tyre away.

      So they are both effective.

      The fact that the screens were damaged or flexed is completely irrelevant, but people with preconceptions latch onto it.

      1. @lockup One of the problems with that test that isn’t mentioned in that article was that when it “Launched the wheel & tyre away” it did so at a height that would have cleared a catch-fence & sent it into the spectator enclosure & the same sort of thing happened with every thing they fired at it.

        There was also other problems that cropped up with the canopy solution. Because of how narrow the cockpit of single seater cars is there was a lot of image distortion due to the curvature required for the canopy.
        There was also concerns over visibility in the wet or due to dirt build-up, oil & tyre marks from marbles that affected & with such a narrow canopy it was hard to find a wiper system that would work at keeping the screen clear effectively.

        Then there was concerns over driver extraction, It can be hard enough to get out of a single seater car if it goes upside down as it is & a canopy would make it impossible.

        Additionally it was discovered that the canopy’s used on fighter planes is prone to sticking in the event of an impact that causes the bodywork to be warped, To get around this aircraft canopies are fitted with explosive bolts as part of the ejector seat system, These explosive bolts would be too dangerous to use on a race car.

        1. @gt-racer the wheel would go in a random direction and not at 225 kmh, instead of definitely killing someone. In safety outcome terms it’s a good tradeoff.

          There are further options too, like having the tyre deflate if the tethers break, so it doesn’t bounce.

          The cars are about to be made 20 cm wider, and anyway this is F1, where a wipe/wash and aircon would be an interesting challenge.

          Driver extraction must be solved, absolutely, but rescue has to be there in less than two minutes and meantime the driver is protected and more likely to be alive and conscious. I don’t see why explosive bolts are too dangerous to use on a race car, when explosive devices are used so widely in road cars. Istr Max saying the problem with airbags in F1 is deployment time, not explosives.

          Safety is all relative. There is always some risk, and some difficulty to be overcome. I feel pretty sure that if they once decided to do it they’d find solutions to these problems.

    15. @lockup

      So they are both effective. The fact that the screens were damaged or flexed is completely irrelevant, but people with preconceptions latch onto it.

      Deflected the wheel assembly where? Into the spectators? Towards a marshal post?

      As a rule, I am anti enclosed cockpits both from aesthetic, historic and safety (in so far as no-one has yet to come up with a suitable solution/suggestion without other safety implications) points of view. What has happened to Justin Wilson or terrible and my heart goes out to his friends and loved ones however once again I find myself irritated by this stampede mentality towards closed cockpit solutions to a problem which I don’t think really exists in F1.

      No-one has died (touch wood) from a serious head injury in F1 for a very long time apart from Jules Bianchi whom most ‘experts’ seem to agree would have succumbed to the same injuries had he been in an enclosed cockpit or not.

      There was the Massa Incident, OK, Very Unlucky (how a heave spring falls out the back of an F1 car I still cannot understand) but he survived and is still racing in F1 to this day largely thanks to his helmet which did the job it is supposed to do.

      So what are we concerned with here? The Spa/Grosjean incident and recent Alonso/Raikkonen incidents with cars flying over the top of each other involved no contact with the drivers heads which some may see as down to luck but I see as a success in raised cockpit sides doing the job that they were supposed to do.

      The Justin Wilson accident is more an Oval racing problem where debris from an accident tends to be confined to the track limits and therefore is almost guaranteed to hit another car. This is not usually a problem for F1 as most accidents which result in large chunks of debris flying through the air tend to happen off the circuit and away from other competitors. Although on reflection this could still be a problem on Street circuits I suppose.

      1. The ‘experts’ on the Bianchi accident have said all kinds of things @asanator, a lot of them to get the FIA off the hook. I worked in the field at one time and to me it was a glancing blow to the head which left his helmet intact.

        Both the car and the crane were deflected by the impact, as we saw. Who can say that a structure as strong and stiff as egg-shaped 16mm polycarbonate wouldn’t have added some millimetres to that deflection and made the head contact survivable? He lived for a year, after all. I rate it quite likely.

        Don’t forget the near misses, either. Chilton at Silverstone last year, and iirc JB at Spa T1 a couple of years ago, for example. Doing 2-300 kmh a couple of feet off the ground, it’s a pretty clear danger zone, when you think about it.

    16. One day, they will have cars with a solution, and that solution will contribute to the death of a driver.
      What then?

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