Jenson Button, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2015

“It’s not the 70s”: Button calls for closed cockpits

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Jenson Button, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2015In the round-up: Jenson Button says he has changed his mind about the need for F1 to keep open cockpits following the deaths of Justin Wilson this year and Dan Wheldon in 2011 in IndyCar crashes.

This weekend on F1 Fanatic

@WillWood is going to be contributing to F1 Fanatic’s Italian Grand Prix coverage this weekend as I am on commentary duty for BT Sport’s extended coverage of the World Series by Renault round at Silverstone.

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GP3-16 car launch, Monza, 2015

GP3 revealed its new chassis which will be used from next year at Monza yesterday with 2013 champion Daniil Kvyat in attendance. As with F1 it uses a V6 engine – this one produces 400bhp.

Comment of the day

Tyre, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, 2015Formula One Management put out an extraordinary statement in support of Pirelli yesterday.

I guess we already know who gets the tender for the next contract then…
Simon (@Weeniebeenie)

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On this day in F1

Phil Hill scored his first world championship race victory in the Italian Grand Prix on this day in 1960.

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124 comments on ““It’s not the 70s”: Button calls for closed cockpits”

  1. It’s disappointing that Hamilton doesn’t want the competition the a Mercedes engined Red Bull would offer.

    I try to imagine what it would be like if I was winning races the way he is winning races. Me, I wouldn’t want to be that far ahead, I’d want to be able to fight with him or whatever.

    I look at his on board laps and it doesn’t look or appear as if he is on the limit like some other drivers are. When you have that much in hand sometimes it makes it so much easier. But at the end of the day he does the job he needs to do.

    1. He is quite reasonably frightened that if Red Bull could dominate with an engine they claimed
      was inferior they will truly annihilate with an equal engine, to the extent that whatever his
      abilities he cannot compete. Just like the present situation in reverse, and the situation he
      felt in at Mclaren when Red Bull had a car that was not “like the others” (alonso’s words).

      Newey’s newy love of sailing is the big uncertainty in this.

      1. I imagine that last season (2014) if RBR had Merc engines they would have annihilated Mercedes.

        But now it almost seems that RBR have fallen behind in the development race because they’ve had so many set backs with the Renault V6. I’d imagine if you were to put a Mercedes engine in the RBR for the rest of the season, they wouldn’t exactly be stealing race victories from Mercedes very often or easily. Such is the viciousness of the development race behind the scenes.

        I guess it’s all in the same sense where McLaren Honda are at the moment. A grid lock of not being able to develop the chassis and setup without having optimum performance from the engine. Thus every race weekend they’re just falling further and further behind.

        1. The Mercedes chassis is pretty fantastic as well. And how often did they actually run the engine at full capacity in 2014? They had no real need to at most tracks given they were by far the quickest cars. If they had Red Bull breathing down their necks I’m pretty sure they would have had a few tricks up their sleeves in terms of the engine.

      2. ColdFly F1 (@)
        4th September 2015, 8:50

        But RBR, as premium partner, hasn’t really raced the pants off the other Renault powered team.
        Maybe Newey already had his mind on sailing last year! @boylep6

    2. Every driver says he is in favor of close racing and strong competition… until they have a chance to win by a mile. Then they just want to keep winning. Hamilton himself has gone back and forth on this a couple of times already; I don’t blame him — frankly I think there are conflicting impulses within every racing driver. Part of them wants a challenge, another part of them just wants victory.

    3. If rbr beat them with their engine then they would be a laughing stock. No one would be praising their sportsmanship.

    4. It’s disappointing that Hamilton doesn’t want the competition the a Mercedes engined Red Bull would offer.

      It’s not about having close competition. Hamilton actually enjoys close racing, he has said so before but you can see it how he drives on track wheel the wheel and how he celebrates a close victory. The thing is though this isn’t about close racing, Hamilton along with all the other top drivers on the grid knows what it was like during Red Bull domination, for a large period of that it wasn’t close racing it was just who can fill the bottom 2 steps or sometimes bottom 1 step if Webber actually turned up, so it is completely understandable that Hamilton would be against priming a team who haven’t forgotten how to make a great chassis with the best engine on the grid.

      The only reason Mercedes will give RB their engine is for exposure, now we have already saw how much credit Renault got for the sizeable contribution to the 4 championships they help RB win. So RB aren’t going to give Mercedes any exposure. So what do they have to gain? Respect from some fans who think that RB is some way deserve to be any further up the grid than they are now? If thats the case why dont Red Bull give Manor their chassis and Mercedes give them their engine? That’s not what F1 is.Or maybe it’s to silence Bernie because he basically hates everything Mercedes has done and loves to stomp on them every chance he gets, normally louder as well when his buddy old pal Horner is standing next to him.

      You want closer racing? Get Red Bull to have a Ferrari engine, their chassis is better than Ferrari whos engine is better than Renaults, that has the potential to generate close racing between Merc & RB. But I wonder what Seb’s answer would be if he was asked should Ferrari supply RB with engines, I’m willing to bet it wouldn’t be all that different to Hamiltons.

      1. Oh please! Where the hell did this “Red Bull domination” come from??? Just because Vettel and Red Bull won 4 in a row doesn’t mean Red Bull utterly dominated Formula 1. It was very close racing most of the time. I mean I remember everyone saying Red Bull was at best the 3rd fastest car in 2012 for most of the time. Now everyone acts like it was the fastest car of 2012. Either most of these people commenting on web haven’t actually watched those races, or they forget all the details of past seasons.
        When you talk about how not close the racing was, I cannot read the rest of your comment and take whatever you are saying seriously. Especially if you are doing it to defend Hamilton and Mercedes! That sounds ridiculous.

        1. Well said nehir. Despite enunciating it so clearly, he still won’t get it. Best to bypass his comments – I agree.

        2. That’s right. The only year they dominated was 2013, and only then after the tyre compounds were changed. McLaren was clearly the fastest car of 2012, had it not been for a mixture of bad luck and terrible reliability would have easily won both championships, and even with that misfortune Alonso would /should have won had it not been for the crash in Spa. Also, had McLaren not made the critical mistake of ditching the superior MP4-27 and starting from scratch to build the god-awful 28 they would have trounced it in 2013.

          1. The MP4-27 had reached the end of its development cycle. There wasn’t that much more pace to be extracted from it. No way on earth would Mclaren have beaten Red Bull in 2013.

    5. Hamilton is just saying what the 500-600 people working at the Mercedes F1 team all think & feel! Why on earth would you ever want to risk a winning position? The drivers and teams are their to Win not ensure fans appetites for close competition is met. You don’t see other sports teams offering to loan / sell their Star players to competitive teams to help them compete….

      It would be interesting though to see the Red Bull with a Merc engine, clearly the Merc is the best all-round package on the grid at the moment.

    6. @tdog you never, ever, give your rivals a chance if you want to win. It’s dissapointing for the viewer, for the fans, to not have Red Bull on equal terms with Mercedes, but if Mercedes wants to win, they should never supply Red Bull with their engines.

      It’s part of their secret, what they have designed and spent time and money working on it, perfecting it. Willingly giving it to Red Bull would shorten that advantage. It’s not Mercedes fault that Renault has not kept up. Red Bull didn’t give wings (ha!), diffusers or whatever to any rival when they dominated.

      That’s how competition works. I don’t see anything wrong with Lewis’ comments.

      1. I agree that instinctively it doesn’t seem to make sense to supply RBR with Merc engines, although it sounds like Merc is considering it -I think? Why wouldn’t it be a no-brainer and why are we even talking about it if it should be such a no-brainer that Merc not hand RBR their gold?

        A couple of thoughts. F1 cars today are about a marriage of PU and chassis. I don’t think, these days, it is as easy as saying RBR make great chassis’ and with a great PU they will dominate. There is no guarantee afaik that RBR will succeed as well as Merc in the marriage department. They might come close, but I just don’t think you build a great chassis and slap in a great PU and Bob’s your uncle. You have to merge them well, and it would not be easy to merge the Merc PU to a chassis better than Merc themselves can and are.

        Secondly, I disagree that there would be no financial gain for Merc in supplying RBR. There could be huge financial marketing gain from Merc being associated with such a massive brand as Red Bull. Especially if they see it beneficial to tie in the Red Bull demographic with the direction they want to take with commercial Mercedes car sales globally.

    7. You do Hamilton an injustice: he is on the limit most of the time. If you can get a chance to watch the onboard camera video of a race, you will see the race from the perspective of various cars. Hamilton is really in a league of his own. His top speed on a lap is not as high as other drivers get, yet he wins the race! How can that be? He wins the race because his average speed is faster than that of every other driver. How can his average speed be faster if his absolute top speed isn’t as high as other drivers obtain? Obviously their average speed is lower, meaning he is doing stuff other drivers are not. Part of what he does is how he uses the engine, he limits his “revs” to below 11500 RPM. However, other drivers seem to be changing gears in a similar style to what he does, so the only explanation is he is better at going around corners than other drivers are, and the only way he could be doing that is by being closer to the limit for most of the race than other drivers are.

    8. It’s disappointing that Hamilton doesn’t want the competition [that] a Mercedes engined Red Bull would offer.

      As far as I can tell there isn’t much difference between a Renault engine and a Mercedes engine. The top speeds achieved by Renault powered cars is similar to that obtained by Mercedes powered cars. While there are lots of reasons this could be, the most obvious is the power outputs of these engines is similar.
      No, I don’t have an explanation as to why it is Mercedes powered cars seem to be dominating the races, but as I said, as far as I can tell the engines seem to be similar in power output.

  2. I’m with Hulkenberg here. Keke Rosberg sums it up perfectly:

    1. Would love to watch a world championship with these cars, rather than what’s in F1 today.

    2. Well found FullSpe3d and I couldn’t agree more. Said by a true legend and a wonderfully entertaining racer. Shame Nico didn’t get the full dose when he was conceived all those years ago.
      As much as my sympathies lie with the families of those that have died due to motor sport injuries inflicted by flying debris, it is a cold hard fact of life that we all end up dead. People get killed at work every day and we are right to address safety issues and put in measures to stop needless accidents. But there will always be freaks of nature, the perfect storm. Closed cockpits offer up just as many safety challenges than they aim to resolve. We need to find the right balance and in my view cockpit enclosures are a step to far. We might just as well make everything out of cotton wool and be done with it.

      1. He’s only has a half dose of sisu..xD

  3. Give a closed cockpit to the Moto GP guys too. In theory they are more at risk, right?

    1. I’m not really sure what you are getting at here. It’s obviously sarcastic, but the implication from that appears to suggest F1 cars are incompatible with closed cockpits, which isn’t true.

      Are you simply verbalising how ridiculous you feel it is?

      1. Are you sure F1 cars are compatible with closed cockpits though?

        1. Yes, the Red Bull X2010 style cockpit could be compatible with F1.

          1. @beneboy The Red Bull X concepts were about designing the fastest thing possible within a lose formula. One of the cars was a bloody fan car! The entire thing is so theoretical, you can’t possibly say whether it would meet real-world safety and suitability guidelines.

            I remember when the BBC did a vt of Vettel driving it on Gran Turismo around Suzuka. He could barely keep it on the track because it was so fast, meaning we’d have to ditch a load more tracks.

          2. *loose formula.

          3. petebaldwin (@)
            4th September 2015, 9:49

            @optimaximal – Sure – they were based around a loose formula and wouldn’t work on modern F1 tracks however cars could just as easily be designed to a much more specific Formula that would work.

            The original point was that closed cockpits wouldn’t work in F1. I’m sure if you asked 10 years ago if KERS would work, people would have said no. If you said there would be VSCs or DRS, people would said it was impossible.

            Of course closed cockpits can work – whether it’s the right way to go is a whole different question but if that’s the decision that is made, it’s absolutely 100% possible.

            Personally, I think we need some sort of additional protection but not a fully closed cockpit because that isn’t what F1 is to me. Having said that, I also think loud, aggressive sounding engines is equally as important and the sport was happy to ditch that.

          4. @optimaximal
            I’m not suggesting we adopt every aspect of its design, just that the closed cockpit from it could be suitable for a single seater car.

    2. Whataboutism

      As for moto gp, there is a reason emergency room doctors in the u.s. call motorcycles “donor cycles.” It’s not a favorable comparison for your position.

      1. So you’re saying if it’s TOO dangerous there should be no safety precautions? Only things that are already incredibly safe should be made safer?

    3. How is closed cockpit debate in America? Is there any?

  4. If the sport’s appeal is dependent on the possibility that a driver might be killed at any moment by flying debris, then Formula 1 has bigger problems than I thought.

    1. @flatdarkmars – Very well said.

      1. Clearly it isn’t, and besides, last I checked Wilson was killed racing INDYCAR.

        There are plenty of closed cockpit racing series and if a driver wants to race there they can. Open cockpit and open wheel racing is it’s own thing, and many drivers, like Hulkenberg, defend it. Drivers should asses the risk they are willing to take and find the racing series that suits them.

        In top level closed cockpit racing there have also been several fatalities since Senna. 2 in WRC, 3 in Paris Dakar, 6 in other rally series, and 13 in NASCAR. Closed cockpits does not make the sport instantly safe.

        1. I’m sorry, I think I’ve missed a stage in this conversation. Why do we want open cockpit racing? What’s the point? Why is it better?

          Compare modern F1 to its historical roots, and pretty much the only thing in common is that they have 4 wheels. We can’t make F1 a perfectly safe sport, but we are presented with an opportunity to make a big step towards it. Why isn’t the F1 community grabbing it with both hands? Do they WANT drivers to die?

          1. Again, 13 Nascar deaths.

            of course drivers don’t WANT to die, but it is a KNOWN risk. Drivers who want 0% chance of dying should not race cars. Or drive them on roads. Or leave the house.

          2. @fluxsource, with regards to the use of open cockpits, medical crews have tended to be in favour of open cockpits given that they have generally made it easier to extract a driver from the cockpit if they had an injury (a fractured vertebrae, for example) that required them to be lifted from the car in a controlled manner. As the Reuters article above also mentions, in the case where a driver might require prompt medical attention, medical teams have also preferred open cockpits given that they allow them to immediately start assessing the condition of the driver and to start administering medical treatment.

            There have been some secondary factors that have also been cited in the past – visibility is one, since a curved windscreen does slightly distort the line of sight of the drivers, along with the issue of keeping the screen clear over an extended period of time. Preventing the build up of heat is another aspect, although that is not insurmountable with passive or active ventilation systems.

            With regards to your statement “Why isn’t the F1 community grabbing it with both hands? Do they WANT drivers to die?”, it is obviously the case that they do not want the drivers to be killed.

            The question that is being asked is a simple one with a difficult answer – would the implementation of a closed cockpit ultimately result in an overall improvement in the safety of the sport for all parties, and how could they then mitigate against the situations where it might result in an increase in risk? It should not be the case that a closed cockpit is introduced because people believe that something should be done, but because it is the best overall option to mitigate the risks.

        2. @selbbin – “Closed cockpits does not make the sport instantly safe.”

          While this may be true the same could be said of many other safety regulations already in place. No one single safety regulation is a complete catch-all to remove all risk. Does that mean we should not consider any further safety measures? Shouldn’t the aim be to make a dangerous sport as safe as possible?

          The point that you make about Justin Wilson being “killed racing IndyCar” does not exempt F1 from racing with similar safety concerns due to open cockpits.

          With some people there is still a prevalent attitude much like what Sir Jackie Stewart encountered when he and others fought so hard for safety in racing for drivers, teams, officials and fans.

          1. If this were happening all the time, sure, but a unique freak accident? The odds of this occurring to Wilson were probably lower that him dying on his way to the circuit.

          2. @selbbin How many “unique freak accidents” does it take before change is made? The accident wasn’t unique, as discussed previously there have been several high profile deaths and serious injuries from head strikes over recent years in F1 and Indycar alone, who knows how many in other open cockpit series?

            As for the NASCAR argument, NASCAR is a governing body, not a race series (i.e. comparable with the FIA not F1 or Indycar) – the figures you quote for NASCAR deaths (and I can’t find a number quite as high) presumably include all NASCAR events? According to NASCAR they sanction over 1500 races, races which generally have many more cars than an F1 grid, have much less technology and safety features and race on tracks which would not meet F1 standards. Is it any surprise that the number of fatalities is higher? It may not even be higher at all when measured on a per-mile basis. This point is a complete red herring.

            And I notice that you’re continuing to conveniently ignore @fluxsource ‘s question:

            Why do we want open cockpit racing? What’s the point? Why is it better?

          3. Well said. I think an F-16 style bubble canopy would be good for F1. Recently they have a tendency to make new stuff look bad so i hope the canopies look posh whilst providing adequate protection.

  5. The canopy is a nonsensical reaction. What’s next, closed wheels too?
    The ‘halo’ design looks like the compromise and still retains the open cockpit/open wheel.

    1. The problem being that it would have done little to avert accidents like Massa’s.

      1. I think that it has a good chance catching that kind of debris too @vettel1, or at least I wouldn’t discard it as not being a good solution without testing how it works.

        Overall, personally I would not feel completely fine with the closed cockpit, but on the other hand surely a combination of a windscreen/cage/halo or whatever can be devised to greatly improve the sitution. Get on with it FIA!

    2. Why is it nonesensical ?
      Would it really be that bad if F1 adopted a closed cockpit similar to the X2010 ?

      1. So they should go race LPM1s in WEC.

      2. @beneboy Safety is a multi-faceted beast. How good does it look when a closed canopy causes debris to be deflected into the crowd and a spectator is wounded, because the FIA have confirmed many times that real-world tests have proved that’s what happens.

        The energy has to go somewhere and if it’s not absorbed by the canopy (which would shatter it) then the wayward debris has to go somewhere else…

        1. @optimaximal I don’t buy this as a valid argument. The argument says that it is preferable to have a driver suffer a horrific injury and probable death in order to avoid a small chance that the debris could bounce out of the circuit and injure a spectator. The risk to drivers is also surely much higher because their head is travelling at enormous speed towards the object regardless of the object’s speed, direction and weight.

          There is already such a chance anyway and that is a risk which needs to be dealt with in itself. The drivers are not be there to sacrifice their lives – if the debris issue needs addressed then address it with its own solution, not by putting drivers heads in the firing line.

          1. @jerseyf1 Yes, I do think it’s *preferable* for a competitor in a sport be injured than a spectator.

            Neither is, of course, ideal.

          2. @optimaximal I agree fundamentally it’s preferable, as you say, but in this case it’s about probability and impact.

            If we assume debris striking the drivers head the probability of death or severe injury is very high without a canopy and low with. If we assume debris strikes the canopy the probability of death or severe injury for the driver is reduced, the probability of an injury to a spectator may be only slightly increased.

            Spectators don’t even have to wear helmets ;)

        2. @optimaximal
          How is that any different from debris being deflected off the nose, the driver’s helmet, engine cover or wheels ?
          Most circuits have catch fences in front of the grandstands to deal with flying debris, so it’s a problem that already exists and is being covered by current safety systems.

        3. I don’t believe that is a valid argument. If a piece of debris was sufficiently heavy that it would cause injury to a bystander, e.g. road marshal, person in the grandstand, person working in the pitlane, tv camera crew, photographer, etc, then it would also have caused at least as serious injury to the driver of the car if it hit him instead of the bystander. If the driver is incapacitated his car will crash and then there is the potential for both him and bystanders to be killed.
          The simple fact is there is only a helmet visor between a drivers eyes and any debris he can see, and that is ridiculous! The car travels at 300+ km/hr!
          The only valid reason I can see for not enclosing the cockpit is the possibility of engine exhaust fumes or similar getting into the cockpit, which probably did happen when the engine was in the front of the car. Now F1 cars have the engine at the rear, so it is difficult to justify having that as an argument. Yes, Max Verstappen did pull out of a race earlier this year siting smoke in the cockpit area as the reason, but there wasn’t any indication he would have been suddenly rendered unconscious from that smoke. He had time to react to the situation.
          As I see it, provided there is adequate ventilation then this shouldn’t be an issue.

      3. The x2010 is not an F1 car. It is a space racer from the 31st century.

        1. Formula 1 is a set of regulations that the cars must conform to, those regulations have changed countless times, and will continue to change as long as the sport exists. There is no reason those rules could not be changed to include a cockpit design similar to the X2010. It’s not futuristic and unworkable, if top fuel drag racers and LMP cars can have closed cockpits there’s no reason F1 can’t.

    3. I don’t think closed cockpits should be adopted. But open cockpit racing should be modified like with windscreens (re-inforged) that should be enough for debri and protection for the head against incoming cars.

  6. Very much agree with Button. Used to feel the same way about open cockpits that he did.

    The most pertinent question: How many more deaths or serious injuries must take place before minds are changed?

    Another good question: How does having a closed cockpit make racing less exciting for fans?

    1. Great comment. I felt like Jenson before but now I’ve come to support closed cockpits like him.
      We don’t want to see blokes getting killed if something can be done to save them. If a closed cockpit saves one person it is a success. I hope that nobody else has to die before this gets implemented.
      I also can’t see why a closed cockpit would make it less exciting. I love watching the LMP1’s and they have a roof. The NASCAR and V8SC can be included too. An open cockpit isn’t the base of my passion for F1 racing.

      I just want to avoid the anguish of another driver getting hit by flying debris. This is the way to do fix it I think. The fighter jet style of closed cockpit seems best, the Mercedes concept seems pretty redundant- the bolt that hit Massa would’ve still gotten through, for example.

      F1 has to move on and protect their drivers in the best way possible. IndyCar has to do the same and their situation is probably more rapid and needs to be dealt with quicker.

      1. @ambroserpm – I admit to waffling on this issue in the past, choosing to err on the side of tradition. I just can’t see that anymore. A great job is being done currently to protect driver’s bodies. Why shouldn’t the same level of concern and ingenuity be applied to protect the head? This can be done.

    2. Since Senna: 2 deaths in INDYCAR, 1 death in F1, 13 deaths in NASCAR.

      Closed cockpits does not = safe.

      1. Just because F1 is already safer than NASCAR does not mean that more shouldn’t be done to improve the safety in F1.

      2. On their own no, closed cockpits won’t make everything perfect. But combined with all the other features on an F1 car intended to make racing safer, I believe closed cockpits can have a positive impact.

        After all, what are the downsides?

        1. A wheel bouncing of a cockpit (as it does in the test video) and flying into the crowd who are wearing no protection and killing one of them? I would of thought that is a downside

        2. Nothing except changing the fundamental basics of the sport by changing it into already existing alternative for no significant reason. And don’t say saying driver’s lives is a significant reason because more people die in closed cockpit cars anyway, and such a huge change for something so statistically improbable is overkill.

          1. @selbbin – just to point out your statistics are nonsense and prove nothing, as pointed out when you made the same comments above.

        3. @fluxsource Driver extraction.

          Time how long it took for Perez to exit the car after his roll in Hungary. Now time how long it would take to extract him with a canopy.

          1. @optimaximal A simple, very small explosive charge at a specific point could shatter the canopy safely. It’s been used it military aviation for years. This problem has been solved.

          2. @optimaximal Was Perez life in danger in that moment? No. And probably even less likely if he had a closed cockpit. Drivers very rarely exit their cars as quick as possible after a crash now because in most events that is simply not an issue. In the most serious crashes driver extraction is done with the driver still strapped into the vehicle, not in the quickest possible way.

            Besides, we have no idea of the answer to the question how long would it have taken – with a well designed canopy system the answer may be little to no time longer?

          3. @fluxsource @jerseyf1

            I’m not disagreeing. I’m just stating that it’s a reason the FIA gave.

      3. @selbbin

        Where did you get your numbers?

        From Indycar alone I count 8 (Scott Brayton, Tony Renna, Paul Dana, Dan Wheldon, Justin Wilson, Greg Moore, Jeff Krosnoff and Gonzalo Rodriguez)

        NASCAR has had 11 but 6 of those have come at NASCAR’s regional series and Mexico. the last death came over 6 years ago.

        Of NASCAR’s three national series (Cup, Xfinity and Trucks), there have been only 5 and 0 since Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 2001

        Also, keep in mind NASCAR isn’t just one series. NASCAR is really more like the FIA. They sanction between 10-15 series in any given year. You’re looking at a few hundred drivers competing in a few hundred races in any given year. To only have 11 deaths since Senna is remarkable given that they’ve run thousands of events since then.

        1. As far as the official INDYCAR is concerned it is Dan and Justin, the rest were part of the CART championship. I’m not listing every championship in every category, because there’s a load more closed cockpit series with a load more deaths. 19 in British series alone.

          1. If you’re going with just top series then NASCAR Cup Series has had only 2 deaths since Senna

            Official Indycar includes the histories of both CART and IRL. Even if you discount CART, you are still looking at 5 deaths.

          2. FlyingLobster27
            4th September 2015, 7:34

            The “official” series as you see it didn’t exist until 14 years AFTER Senna’s death. 2 fatal accidents in 5 years is still a lot for a major championship, but you can’t say that there have only been two deadly crashes in major US open-wheel racing since 1994, that’s plainly ignoring two-thirds of the time span.
            You’re playing with definitions to get the stats you want, to stilt your defence of open cockpits. I could do that too and come out with a case for tin-tops, if I too chose the right series (how many deaths in WRC vs F1?). But I don’t believe the number comparison argument is valid anyway. The racing is different, the cars are different, the tracks are different. What you need to be looking at is not how many, but why.

          3. FlyingLobster27
            4th September 2015, 8:07

            Re: my previous comment, that should probably have read WRC vs F1+IndyCar, or WTCC vs F1, to be watertight.
            Either way, my point is you can make numbers say anything you want, but they won’t tell you that the deaths that occurred in the WRC are completely irrelevant for comparison with F1 (hit a tree, hit while changing a tyre).

      4. And what about half open cockpits? Is that a option?

      5. @selbbin – Your statistics are skewed and I find your logic somewhat twisted, but I can somewhat relate to your perception of what open cockpit/open wheel racing means.

        When I was 11 years old the movie Grand Prix came out. I was already a fan of F1 and “IndyCar” racing. Watching the movie Grand Prix on a huge Cinerama screen with all the dynamic in car film footage was thrilling, amazing and inspiring. Real race car drivers, including Jim Clark my favorite driver, appeared in the film and also drove cars providing film footage. It really felt like you were there in the car, riding in the open cockpit, racing! Even though I was a fan of stock car racing, for me F1 and indy cars were real racing to me.

        That’s how I’ve always thought F1 and IndyCar should be. Like it was, but with technological and safety advances that have improved things over the years. I wholeheartedly applaud the the efforts Sir Jackie Stewart and others undertook to improve safety for drivers, teams, officials and fans. Just too many deaths and injuries to some of the best and most favorite drivers in the world took place before the racing “business” took safety seriously and as a positive step to enhance racing rather than detract from the show.

        I’ve always thought that open wheel – open cockpit racing had that special allure like no other kind of racing. Not because of the danger factor though. Maybe it is like battling the elements as well as your opponents. I don’t know exactly, but it was something that started for me watching racing as a kid all those years ago, watching the movie and feeling the wind.

        Now, the thrill of the open cockpit is gone. Too many have paid the price. We hear sometimes when someone dies that at least they died doing what they loved to do. Yes, but that doesn’t mean they wanted to die. Or, that something couldn’t have been done to prevent it or make it less likely. Even when knowingly participating in a dangerous sport.

        Some of my favorite drivers have died while racing and yet I still watch and drivers still race. Tony Kanaan said it well after Justin Wilson died. “Why do we do this? Because we love it, don’t want to be anywhere else but a race car. We will keep your legacy my friend. Racers race.” Perhaps that kind of spirit is why I continue to watch.

        Can more be done to protect the heads of such special individuals that we all seem to hold in such high regard? Yes. Should we wait for more deaths and injuries or just count on luck? No.

        F1 cars have changed greatly since the 60’s. They will continue to evolve in a logical manor. Part of this evolution has been to protect the driver. Closed cockpits is a continuation of that evolution and its time has come.

        It has taken me a while to arrive at this conclusion and my thoughts may not matter much to you, but if you read this far I appreciate it. What really matters to me is keeping a dangerous sport as safe as possible.

      6. @selbbin That’s a bit like eating 3o lbs of tempe every day for a year, seeing that your weight raises, then eating a spoon of rice everyday for the quarter-year after that, then sees massive weight loss, then conclude that rice doesn’t do as good a job at making you fat as tempe though.

  7. The thing to remember about Hamilton’s comments is he’s not saying he fears the competition. I’m sure he’d happily have any other driver in the other cars seat and feel he could beat them.

    But he’s right from the teams perspective, giving a strong technical competitor help to be more competitive wouldn’t help Mercedes it could only hurt them. At the moment they’ve struck a balance of chassis and engine development to have the best all round package. Red Bull are fiercely strong on the chassis, give them the Mercedes engine and in all likelihood they’re going to match or beat them without expending any development on the engine them self.

    That’s going to mean Mercedes have to put more resources into chassis development at the expense of engine. Which opens the door to Ferrari and Honda to catch up with them on power unit development.

    I know we as fans would love to see competition, but Mercedes have Ferrari closing in, McLaren-Honda lurking in the distance. They don’t need to better tool another competitor for their own interests unless they are looking at an exit strategy from the sport as a full works team.

    And bigger picture if they do end up supplying Red Bull then I have a hunch that will be the goal. McLaren didn’t deliver for a long time as a works team, motivating Mercedes to come in as a full works team. But here we have an opportunity to join up with Red Bull, a proven winning team both in development, track operations and driver development programs. Mercedes are going to get a clean sweep of at least 2 years of championships, likely 3. But once Ferrari catch up, and if McLaren-Honda sort their act up they could find them self throwing money at something that is no longer a sure thing. Getting Red Bull as a partner and dropping the works team then makes sense.

    1. I think its a bit like that yes @philipgb, with Hamilton taking Mercedes starting to supply another top team as a signal of a shift away from focusing on their own team towards being “just” an engine supplier again in the future.

      Also, Red Bull would surely push to get developments as early as the works team and would request things on their own, potentially complicating development and harmony of the tight cooperating structure they have now between engine and chassis+aero guys.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        4th September 2015, 8:39

        AFAIK all teams will have to use the same version of the engines from next year. @bascb
        The reason we see differences is due to 2 exceptions, which will be gone next year:
        1. Manor allowed to use last year’s Ferrari engine (approved by other teams);
        2. Engine suppliers allowed to use tokens throughout season, and consequently teams can ‘choose’ when to move to the upgraded engine (allowed by FIA exceptionally for this year).

        1. That is the current state of the rules yeah. But then again, until Ferrari pulled out the “no deadline” joker, it was supposed to be that way this year too. And as far as I know Ferrari and Renault (possibly Honda as well) are still pushing for some token usage during the season next year too @coldfly

          But if it does stay that way, Red Bull will still want to have early info and come with development ideas itself which will still complicate the whole development cycle.

          1. but DID the whole discussion come about because of that @mazdachris?
            Red Bull, and Bernie helping them, are the first moving and are pushing Mercedes to agree. Its not Renault that has made it clear they want to end the supply.
            The whole thing started when Red Bull first started bashing their current supplier/partner, then apparently failed to impress any other takers to get into F1 with them (i.e. Audi) and now apparently wants to quit their contract before we even have a clear view of whether Renault actually will buy a team / the lotus team.
            It is quite possible that Renault would either keep the Mercedes supplies for Lotus for next year (depending on how they agree with Mercedes between breaking the contract vs. a competitor using their engines) and keep RBR as their “top team” for that year.
            Or alternatively keep to the RBR contract and have their newly acquired team as a “customer” for that first year, afterall they will take some time to get up to steam after a time of less than needed investments in the team.

          2. eh, got that one tagged onto the wrong post there. Sorry.

          3. But @bascb whatever the events leading up to the situation, the facts are clear – Renault are going to be providing engines to their own factory team which will render RBR a customer team which is going to be a breach of their contract with RBR. So either way RBR has to be a customer team, and they now have the perfect get out clause to go seeking engines elsewhere.

            Put yourself in RBR’s shoes – who would you prefer to be a customer of: Renault, who have made inferior engines. Ferrari, who we all know will suppoly second rate kit to their customers whatever the rules may say. Honda, whose power units are the worst of the lot. Or Mercedes who have a history of providing top spec kit to their customers and also happen to have the best power unit on the grid right now?

            To me the answer seems simple and obvious – you go for the best power unit you can get. Why would anyone ever do anything different? Anyone who deliberately chooses an inferior component for their F1 car deserves all the lack of success they get.

            My point though is this – Mercedes will have one power unit they can allocate to another team after Renault start using their own (either next year or 2017, depending) so Mercedes have three options – supply RBR, supply A.N.Other, or supply nobody.

            My issue is this – the decision between the first two options we would have to assume is not going to be financial. Whoever Mercedes end up supplying instead of Lotus, they’ll surely pay the same amount. And if they don’t, then RBR will naturally be the one prepared to pay the most. This surely means that the basis for the decision is only going to be one of competition. As we know of course because Toto, Lewis, and plenty others besides have specifically said so.

            My question, which I’m asking in the most rambling and roundabout way, is whether it is lawful under competition law in the EU (not to mention ethical…) to refuse to supply a sporting competitor equipment on the sole basis that you don’t want their performance to be a challenge to another team you currently supply.

            (feel free to add any further replies to my string below..)

          4. @mazdachris

            Or Mercedes who have a history of providing top spec kit to their customers and also happen to have the best power unit on the grid right now?

            It’s ironic how you say this, given Mercedes have just used their token spend on uprated engines for the works team but have not indicated when the spec will be made available to the customer teams.

            In fact, given it’s an upgrade designed to facilitate the 2016 engine development by sidestepping the token spend (do the work now on the unfrozen parts ahead of 2016 development restrictions), it may never reach the customer teams because of the chance of the rival manufacturers getting early access to design documents.

          5. @optimaxal My understanding of how the rollout of developed parts is working this season is that they are brought out at the time a new PU is introduced by the team as part of their allocation. It makes sense that the manufacturer team would get preference on that, in fact it’s inevitable considering that they will have structured the deployment of their PU allocation around the development cycle so that they get get the biggest impact from each change of specification. But I don’t think (and this is from a loose reading of the rules, as it’s pretty unclear) existing power units can be retrospectively upgraded. So if customer teams want the latest spec they need to either have an unallocated PU left, of they’ll need to take a penalty for taking a fresh PU (something Honda have done over the past couple of races).

            So in that sense a customer team is always at a disadvantage, but I would be very surprised if the updated spec wasn’t now available for the customer Mercedes teams to use, but it’s now a question of whether they have any spare in their allocation to actually bring in the new spec. But this is the plight of a customer team and one of the reasons why RBR wanted to have that ‘manufacturer status’ agreement in place with Renault in the first place.

            Now their only option is to be a customer and to take all the disadvantages whcih come with it. But within that framework, they will naturally want to take the power unit they perceive as the best available.

            As an aside, if I had a high level view of RBR including Torro Rosso, I would probably try and secure a Ferrari PU supply for TR, and then that way you’re splitting the difference and can reap the benefits should Ferrari unexpectedly find a magic bullet and bring their engine level with (or beyond) Mercedes.

          6. @mazdachris Mercedes have claimed that the customer teams will not get the upgrades for the near future because they don’t have the parts. They also won’t likely give some parts to Lotus because of the risk of designs and schematics ending up in rival hands, just like how they didn’t upgrade the McLaren MGU-K in Sochi last year.

      2. Supplying Red Bull would also open Mercedes to their public mud slinging. I can already hear the cries on a lack of parity when Red Bull lose or suffer worse reliability because of their packaging.

        Of course if they win it’s entirely down to Red Bull not the engine.

        1. @philipgp But in some respects Mercedes don’t need to worry about that. At the moment Renault are developing their power unit around RBR’s requirements to specific targets agreed by both parties. If RBR is just a customer team, they get what they’re given and if they don’t like it there’s nothing they can do about it. They will go into the agreement knowing that Mercedes develop their PU around the Mercedes GP team, and the customers have no say in the development process.

    2. @philipgb

      McLaren didn’t deliver for a long time as a works team…

      I think winning both championships 3 years after their partnership started was pretty good. Yes, it was slim-pickings through the early 00s but then it was for most.

      The reason the partnership actually fell over was because McLaren wanted to produce their own super-cars & engines, not just exist as a badge on Mercedes efforts.

      1. @optimaximal

        Then 8 years with nothing which is a long time like I said.

  8. Did hamilton dyed his hair blond like Villeneuve to hide a hair transplant? :D

    1. Makes a lot of sense to use bleach for someone who’s losing a lot of hairs…NOT

  9. its like playing F1 on PC on easy/beginner mode and smashing everyone race after race….
    this is hamilton right now :D

  10. Honda are going to be challenging the available colour spectrum on @KeithCollantine ‘s engine component chart soon!

  11. Okay here’s a question for those who think closed canopies sterilizes the risk. Have you watched a high speed WRC crash off of trees and into a ditch upside down and thought that was sterile? High speed crashes would still hurt like hell – and I hope with the “new” faster cars in 17 that we will see more crashes than ever. In fact I love crashes because it shows how damn hard they are trying to tame the cars.

    But…. the goal should be to never have a death. Always.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      4th September 2015, 8:34

      @gitanes, you started building a reasonable argument, until you say:

      I hope with the “new” faster cars in 17 that we will see more crashes than ever

      I for one prefer to see close wheel-to-wheel racing without the crashes!
      There are enough motorsports disciplines that satisfy the needs of fans who want to see crashes.

      1. Agreed. I don’t need to see an actual collision to be entertained. Off track excursions that actually cost the driver some time are enough for me to witness and appreciate how hard the driver is pushing.

        One of the best moments I recall was Canada 2011 where Vettel desperately fending off Button list the back end allowing him past. He didn’t need to hit anything in a shower of carbon for that to be entertaining.

  12. Interesting that McLaren brings back their long nose. Now I did see it was used for pitstop practice/nose change practice, but it almost looks like the team has ran into trouble optimizing the car to make good use of the new nose. Or is the old one just lower drag?

    1. I think it could be the latter. If you remember in 2009 Red Bull brought back their slim nose for the low downforce tracks of Spa and Monza. This might be something similar, although McLaren ran the new nose at Spa.

  13. An LMP1 car is more practical than a canopied F1 car, I think. Keeping “glass” that close to a driver’s head, issues with evacuating people from crashed cars, i dunno, what would we need next, an Egress system? The problem has more to do with racing on oval circuits than it does with open cockpits. When your opened up on an oval and you crash, your risk of dying is probably significantly higher than if you are at a more traditional Tilke circuit.

  14. With the EU’s anti-competition laws, I don’t really understand how Mercedes could refuse to supply a team on purely competitive grounds. Mercedes High Performance Powertrains (I think that’s still the name..) are an F1 supplier, who are effectively saying they will only supply their one preferred top team to make sure nobody else is in a position to challenge. How is that legally justifiable in a sporting environment?

    1. You do realise Mercedes supply more engines to more teams than anyone else right?

    2. its easy really @mazdachris. As Drg mentions, Mercedes is already supplying their “quota” installed by the FIA to prevent one manufacturer dominating. As that limit had been installed long ago, its also quite possible that there are limits to their manufacturing capacity tied to this limit (Renault mentioned that one when more people wanted their winning F1 engines a few years back), which can also make a solid argument.

      1. @bascb The whole conversation has come about because the Renault takeover of the Lotus team is all over bar the shouting. It seems pretty inconceivable that Renault would want their works team running anything other than a Renault engine so this causes two situations – firstly that there will be one fewer team running a Mercedes engine which frees one up for RBR to use. Secondly, it gives RBR a get out from their contract with Renault which gives them manufacturer status with the engine supplier. So unless Renault somehow decide to have their manufacturer team running a competitor’s engine while still developing their power unit around the Red Bull, the only barrier to Mercedes providing RBR with power units is their own reluctance to supply a team which might potentially have the resource to beat them.

        1. Renault are going to be providing engines to their own factory team which will render RBR a customer team which is going to be a breach of their contract with RBR. So either way RBR has to be a customer team, and they now have the perfect get out clause to go seeking engines elsewhere.

          Not quite as clear I think @mazdachris. First of all, its NOT at all certain that Renault will really have a team of their own for next year (yet?). And then, the clauses say nothing about who they own or not, but “just” that RBR will get treated as their priority (i am sure the wording is more precise etc, but lets keep it simple).
          So as long as Renault keeps their ties with RBR up, and does not start giving their own team (provided they do have such a team), that clause is not breached at all.
          Instead RBR are seemingly forcing it now, with reference to not meeting the competitiveness clauses. Exactly because they want to get the best engine that is available. But that does not make it an obligation for Mercedes to help RBR ditch Renault ASAP.

          As for your question. Until the EU-commission reneges on their agreement to let the FIA further rule F1, and the FIA is not willing to “force” Mercedes to supply Red Bull if it wants, then there is hardly a chance that not supplying to Red Bull would pose any issues with the EU law (because of the acceptance of the FIA as its governing body).

          1. @bascb I think you’re right in the sense that the European Commission won’t automatically take steps to intervene but I think their approach is simply to wait and see whether anyone lodges a formal complaint. Not that it absolutely *needs* that to happen in order to intervene, but simply that as long as all affected parties seem happy with the situation they’re happy to turn a blind eye to the anti-competitive practices in F1. But if Mercedes were to refuse to supply RBR on purely competitive grounds, there would at least be the foundations of a protest that they could make should they choose to. Would they realistically go down that route? Who knows. Probably not. Would they use it as a point of leverage in any negotiations? Absolutely, they’d be mad not to.

            The agreement between Lotus and Renault is all but signed off (in fact if Autosport are to be believed – and they usually are – this was actually signed on Monday and is just waiting to be announced) so the only real unknown is when the black and gold cars will be repainted yellow and have Renault power units. Let’s face it, Renault will want to run their own power units in their works cars, it would be unthinkable if it were otherwise. Perhaps there would be a one year crossover to allow contracts to run their natural course, we simply don’t know. But one way or another Lotus will become Renault and they will use Renault power units.

            Now, with this in mind, consider a situation where Renault would invest in buying a team as their factory outfit, and yet would treat their own team as a customer and instead develop their power unit around the requirements of one of their competitors. A competitor who has done nothing but complain abut how bad they are to work with for the past two years. Does that seem like a likely outcome? Of course not. That situation would be completely unacceptable to Renault, who will want to ensure that their factory team are the highest finishing Renault powered entry.

            I honestly think that the relationship between Renault and Red Bull has broken down to the point where both parties are now thoroughly fed up and want to go their separate ways. Now the whys and wherefors of this, we could debate all day long. But if you look objectively at the situation, the options for both Red Bull and for Renault are fairly straight forward. Red Bull do have a bit of a headache because they won’t be the number one team for their PU supplier no matter who they go with, which is not an ideal situation. But making the best of that bad situation, they will naturally want to go for Mercedes power.

            In a way, Mercedes does have a difficult decision to make. On the one hand it would be very easy to simply refuse to supply RBR (barring any legal challenges to the position), but on the other, what would that really do for their brand? How would it look if they’re tacitly admitting that they believe they can’t beat their own customer team? Of course it’s a possibility. But what would be more damaging to their reputation – being beaten by a customer team, or by refusing to even race against a customer team because they’re so scared that they would be beaten? I’d say the latter. And also, if they were able to beat RBR using the same power unit, that victory would be all the sweeter. By refusing, they give RBR the best excuse in the world for not being competitive. Who wants to bea the champion if the champion has one hand tied behind their back? Mercedes, apparently…

          2. @mazdachris Again, I don’t believe the EU can have a say on what amounts to be a sporting matter.

            It’s not like Mercedes refusing to supply the engine will result in Red Bull Racing going bust overnight because of the lack of supply as they currently have an option to continue with Renault or try for a Ferrari deal. If it does go bust because RBR have already served notice on Renault without having a guaranteed replacement, then that’s likely to backfire on the Austrian outfit because it shows a lack of due diligence in its business dealings.

        2. I think part of the reason Renault wanted to buy Lotus was because RBR and STR weren’t performing as well as they hoped they would. Now that they have their own team, then they will be in a better position to judge the performance of the engine.

    3. @mazdachris You’re misreading the laws. Anti-Competition Laws are actually more likely to stop Mercedes supplying engines to Red Bull because it runs the risk of creating a monopoly situation, which the EU hates. Heck, if the EU had a say in anything, they’d pretty much rule that Red Bull have to run Renault, Honda or Ferrari because it would maintain an competitive (in a business sense) balance.

      The simple fact is the only solution to this problem is for Renault and Honda to do better jobs – if they can’t because of the rulebook, it needs re-writing. If they can’t because of technical competence, then, well, they need to get out.

  15. the wall (barriers) on oval circuits should be on some distance from track surface

    1. That won’t happen because a) you’d have to completely redesign the tracks that exist and b) remove the thing that people seem to love about Ovals (the closeness of the crowd to the race and the inherent danger).

      I don’t watch US racing series, but it seems most existing tracks have already sacrificed a lot of the infield to grass/tarmac run-off – probably as much as they can feasibly afford to. They can’t just move the grandstands either.

  16. Steph (@stephanief1990)
    4th September 2015, 9:59

    Not wanting closed cockpits because it ruins the show or makes it less dangerous is beyond logical comprehension and emotionally selfish. I don’t particularly like the look of Le Mans cars but I’m not the one doing the racing therefore I don’t think fans have any right to comment on that aspect.

    My problem with the idea of closed cockpits is that I don’t think it’s a step forward but more of a lateral move. On the extremely rare chance that something hits your head now then it is going to be bad. However, it is exceptionally rare and Bianchi’s death was a result of that tractor and a series of errors and not the design of the car. There has been a lot of grief in the sport but to make sure it isn’t repeated it all most be examined objectively.

    Every weekend though, there is a crash. Right now drivers can jump out and get out of the way relatively quickly which is a major positive when the tracks are so quick and many are so narrow. The drivers wouldn’t be able to do that as quickly and if they did need urgent medical attention it would be delayed. So on the one hand, you get the risk of an extremely rare but serious accident with one design and on the other all it helps eliminate that risk but all crashes would result in slower medical attention. It’s a trade off and I think that’s ultimately why the sport has been deliberating about this issue for years now- since even before Massa’s crash which was six years ago.

    1. The investigation conclusively proved that the forces & deceleration involved in Bianchi’s crash were always likely to be fatal – a cockpit would have either shattered (and he’d have hit his head on the tractor anyway) or his head would have hit the canopy with the same force.

  17. Ref Boullier’s interview. Why are McLaren not able to fully deploy the electrical power? Does anyone on this site know or have an idea? This is total speculation but could it be something to do with Alonso’s pre-season testing accident at Barcelona?

    1. @mccosmic The MGUs are not working properly and are not filling the energy store efficiently, meaning there’s not enough power at the top end.

      The ICE is functioning normally and is (apparently) putting out more bhp than Renault, but it’s missing the consistent delivery of the 160bhp from the ERS, meaning they’re out-paced on straights.

      1. Ok so its a case of them not being able to harness the energy properly, as opposed to having the full 160 available and not choosing to deploy it because of potential safety risks. Thanks for the info. How did you find out?

        1. Its even mentioned in the interview with Boullier in teh roundup!

  18. Closed Cockpits…No…Simply No.
    I don’t understand…fans hate Stepped Noses, hate the the current rear wings…yet contradict themselves by suggesting that closed cockpits are fine…whilst it is a matter of safety…its also a matter of aesthetics and selling ability for Formula 1…To be honest, I don’t see a closed cockpit F1 car on my bedroom wall.
    Closed Cockpit would be the ugliest addition to Formula 1 for many many years, and I can guarantee the unveiling of them in February would be met with Bernie Ecclestone saying for ‘2025 we will get rid of these closed cockpits…its not formula 1’

    1. The stepped noses were not a safety feature. They were just an ugly byproduct. The safety feature was the lowered nose tip, and I don’t think anyone complained about that.

    2. I think you miss an important point: your expectations are guided by the era you are in. Years ago F1 cars had an engine at the front and no aerofoils. To think of a car as having an engine at the rear and aerofoils would, to some fans, be considered as sacrilege.
      Then, when it was found that it made cars go faster, everyone changed, and fans quickly changed too.
      Now we are being asked to move away from open cockpits for safety reasons. I don’t see how this can detract from it being F1? Sure, the cockpit is enclosed, but what is so precious about this issue that drivers aren’t entitled to safety?
      In years to come people will wonder why there was so much concern and anguish over this issue, just like we wonder why there was so much debate about seat belts and air bags.
      We need to change, it won’t detract from the racing, it won’t stop the crashes, but it will make the drivers safer in a crash, and all it needs is people to accept safety is a top priority.

  19. Death has always been a part of racing, it will continue to be so. It only adds to the thrill of the sport. Yes it’s sad when people die, but we can’t change the definition of the sport after just a few freak accidents.

    My word, the above two lines really are cringe-worthy.

  20. Nice GP3 car!

    Mercedes only 2 PU so far ! very impressive !

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