Ricciardo joins Button in calling for closed cockpits

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In the round-up: Daniel Ricciardo echoes Jenson Button’s call for F1 to introduce closed cockpits in the wake of recent accidents.

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F1 owners CVC has extracted another billion dollars from the sport:

We have teams either failing or teetering close to the brink, historic races at risk of disappearing from the calendar and Renault (reportedly) prepared to walk away from F1 over not receiving the same bonus payments the other biggies get…

So what do the bloodsuckers do? Ignore all that irrelevant ‘future’ and ‘racing’ stuff, bung themselves an extra billion dollars and saddle the sport with even more debt.

Nice to know they’ve got their priorities sorted.
Neil (@Neilosjames)

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Johnny Herbert won the Italian Grand Prix on this day 20 years ago after his team mate Michael Schumacher retired after being hit by title rival Damon Hill.

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Keith Collantine
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141 comments on “Ricciardo joins Button in calling for closed cockpits”

  1. Does that means we’ll have Gutierrez and Vergne driving for Haas?

    1. Can’t be Gutierrez! He’s American as well ;)

    2. I think they already said they’d only take one ferrari reserve driver, maybe that was just a rumor though

  2. Steiner’s comments must make painful reading for Alexander Rossi, who’s been quite competitive in GP2 this season and was talking himself up for the drive. It’s a really competitive market out there with oodles of great talent (and deep pockets) desperate for a seat. Rossi is good, but probably like so many, not good enough.

    1. Painful indeed. I had high hopes for the guy, but it doesn’t sound promising for him. Maybe he can negotiate a reserve/test driver position, with some Friday outings. At least his foot would be in the door. His F1 dreams appear to be on thin ice.

    2. There’s some good American talent starting to come through Indycar (which also hasn’t had many competitive US drivers until recently). But unfortunately we’ll never know how they would do in F1 because the FIA has rigged the ‘super license’ qualification scheme against them.

    3. Josef Newgarden would be a much better option than Alexander Rossi

    4. Rossi is just circulating below F1 for too long now. He was a Formula Renault 3.5 driver in 2010 until 2012 (3rd, then 11th in the championship is not what you can call a learning curve!), before switching to GP2 in 2013 until now (9th, then 21st in the standings). His only major sorting successes were back in 2008 when he won the Formula BMW America and the World Final.

    5. Ferrari will push Gutierrez down their throats…

    6. I’d love to see a U.S. Driver too but pickings are slim. Who in Indy car is going to be a strong f1 driver? Andretti, newgarden, Karam? None of these guys has stood out from the general mediocrity of indycar as a road course fiend. Rossi is probably the best option. Sadly he’ll likely next be seen in IndyCar, and doing quite well I predict.

      1. Or…the Rossi’s/Newgarden’s of the world may find themselves on the team once the team is no longer a rookie to F1 and so once they’re better equipped with knowledge and experience to absorb a rookie who would need time. I think it very wise to not hire a rookie who would only be able to contribute minimally to progress the team initially…ie. Haas will have enough on their plate to learn and experience such that they don’t need to be trying to teach a driver new to F1 at the same time.

      2. Graham Rahal ?

    7. I’m from the States. Rossi is good but only has 2 wins this season and like everyone else, he was completely outclassed by Vandorne in the first half of the season, but unlike most of the other drivers in that series, Rossi isn’t a rookie.

      I’d like to see him as 3rd/reserve/test driver though.

      And unless MotoGP gets closed cockpits, F1 doesn’t need them either!

    8. I don’t think so, they need someone with as much F1 experience as they can get to help develop the car and lead the team. As talented as Rossi is, he’d still be a an F1 rookie in a brand new team.

  3. Obviously Gunther has not been watching GP2 this season. Rossi has proven himself against strong opposition. It would suck for the US to have a driver come so close to making it (2014 Belgium & 2014 Russia, where he was withdrawn both times) and fail to do so even after potentially earning a runner-up in GP2 and having a decent amount of financial backing.

    1. I think he’s good enough for F1, Gunther has a point when he says they’re a new team and that could be detrimental for a rookie but a rookie with Rossi experience can do it, just look at Max Verstappen with way less experience (maybe with a bit more talent) is doing.

      1. @jcost, On the other hand, Verstappen is driving for an established team with highly experienced race engineers, a strong technical team to back them up, years worth of performance data to draw on and is effectively structured in such a way as to maximise the development process for rookie drivers.

        Haas, by contrast, does not have the luxury of any of those things – when the team will be going through a tough learning process as they adapt to the sport, the last thing that they would want is the added complication of trying to train up a rookie driver.

    2. @blockwall2 @jcost I’ve been closely watching this season too, and I must say I’ve not been impressed by Rossi. For sure, he’s had some nice sparks and battles, but looking at his results it’s been quite average:

      Bahrain: Q: 8 R1: 3 R2: 4
      Barcelona: Q: 5 R1: 3 R2: 4
      Monaco: Q: 1 (b) R1: 2 R2: 7
      Austria: Q: 12 R1: 6 R2: 8
      Great Britain: Q: 4 R1: 2 R2: 4
      Hungary: Q: 11 R1: 12 R2: 19
      Belgium: Q: 8 R1: 6 R2: 1
      Italy: Q: 8 R1: 1 R2: DNF

      He’s not a good qualifier (his main problem), but his DNF rate shows he’s quite resilient in the races. Probably better than Maldonado, Ericsson or Gutierrez though.

      1. Maldonado did better than Rossi in GP2. It had better drivers during the years that the Venezuelan competed. Also, Maldonado still holds the record of most wins.

        Look at the grid of GP2 in this year. It’s way weaker in comparison with five years ago.

    3. yes, but Rossi is still a rookie, so I would think the rookie comment covers that angle more than anything about the driver qualities @blockwall2 as @jcost mentions, its already tough enough and having Haas needs drivers who know what they should be getting to tell the team where to improve, having a rookie in one of the cars would be another hurdle they can do without for now.

  4. That’s wrong. I reckon Rossi should be in F1. He’s been rejected for far too long now

    1. @mattypf1 He’s been a distant 2nd in GP2. I agree that Haas could take a risk and just strap on one american driver either Rossi or someone from Indy but the economy isn’t great.The talent is there but there’s a big learning curve for the Indy guys and for Haas and that’s why a new team needs f1 drivers.

    2. There appears to be more to Rossi than just good results to have kept him out of ride all these years. Hard to know but maybe he can’t read or is bad at setting up a car. Baffling

  5. Stewart is from a different time? When was the last time you saw a driver having to run away from a burning car? Less times than drivers receiving dramatic head traumas. That’s the point: the benefits are there and the drawbacks are not as important as people make it. Divide the canopy into two longitudinal halves so that ca be removed sideways in case a car lands upside down, add explosive hinges, and you got every situation more or less covered. It takes longer to get out, but they are alive. It,s not like we’re no racing enclosed cars all the time and they are safe.

    1. Stewart may be from a different time but he has a far more realistic grasp of the facts than you do.

      1. @hohum
        I agree, and he certainly knows more about these things than me too. But I do find it odd that he says:

        I don’t see it as that bad. How many incidents have we had? I mean one thing was changing safety – the racetrack, the deformable structures, the cars, everything.
        “[The death of] Henry Surtees, and this accident that happened in America, that’s two incidents.

        The deaths of Roland and Ayrton lead to huge changes to the cars, circuits, systems and procedures, and I don’t get why the deaths of Henry and Justin require any less of an improvement of safety.
        Maybe I’m reading more into his comment than is there, but it sounds quite dismissive to me, and that’s the last thing I expected from Jackie. I wonder how many deaths from similar incidents it will take for him to see it as sufficiently bad.

        1. @beneboy, Yes , those opening lines clearly reflect Stewarts past experience but in cold statistical terms motorsports compare well with many sporting activities that are not considered dangerous let alone the ones that are like rock/mountain climbing, free diving etc.

          1. Or even cricket!!!

        2. Yes, I think you read more into that comment than you should there @beneboy. I admit that I was sceptical to what Steward was arguing after that first part too. But when you read on, his opinion is that we shouldn’t rush into a closed cockpit, he highlights some of the negatives the FIA has come upon during testing and concludes that a bit more work is needed to find a good solution.

          What I find far more urgent, are the things raised in other articles, about why a nose comes loose like it did for Karam at all (i.e. is a quick release system the best way to go) and relatively large bits like the wheel guards often bouncing on track, we should not focus “just” on the protection of the cockpit but also have another look at what parts break and how to prevent them flying around (especially with spec chassis like we have in most series), because that also helps a lot to improve safety and probably has fewer downsides and is easier to introduce

          1. Because, when they race on ovals, there’s nowhere for parts to go. In F1, crashes happen in the runoff, noses get torn off and fly into the grass/gravel. Where they gonna go on an oval? Right into the next unwitting driver, that’s where.

            Stewart is right and this is just knee-jerk 101. open wheels on ovals don’t make sense to begin with, and need I repeat nothing, I mean nothing would have saved Bianchi from crashing into a frontloader inside the circuit – they could, and should have waited to bring that thing out. That’s a simple procedure to review and change.

      2. True. JYS is the biggest proponent of safety there is. Justin Wilson’s death was a massive tragedy yet it was in IndyCar. That bodywork was poorly thought out and rushed from day one. Hardly a surprise someone was killed as a result. F1 thinks things through, at least technically, more than any other form of motorsport. There are a hundred guys standing by to race an open-cockpit F1 car, if the current breed feel otherwise.

    2. When was the last time a driver had to run away from a burning car? Heidfeld’s last race in 2011.

      1. Or Rosberg last week if we’re going to be picky :P

        Just sayin!

      2. Michael, what about Kvyat in the 2014 German GP? He had a ruptured oil line that cause the car to catch fire whilst he was still in it.

      3. And one wonders what the fumes in Hulkenberg’s car would do in a closed cockpit!

        Not sure if F1 is ready for ejector seats ;)

      4. And in both cases the closed cockpit would have made no difference at all in terms of increasing the danger in the situation.

    3. Thank you! That crap about upside down burning cars comes up every time someone discusses closed canopies. Quick, someone name a time that’s happened in the last 30 years! You can’t!!! Now name someone that has been injured or killed in the last 6 years from being struck in the head? Massa, Surtees, Wilson, Wheldon, Bianchi, Hinchcliffe.

      How many drivers have been killed in WEC because they were trapped upside down in a burning car? None. How many have been killed by head injuries in the last 10 years? None.

      That sad, tired argument is like the people who tried to stop seat belts because they claimed they could be trapped in a burning car or trapped in a car that went off a bridge into water.

      If these people would rather see “tradition” than improve safety, they should simply admit it. Their crap arguments are sad and pathetic. At least have the stones to admit your motivations and that you would rather see open cockpits than safer drivers.

      1. Because when they hear “closed cockpits”, they immediately think of fighter jet canopies. It’s really obvious that isn’t what people arguing for closed cockpits mean, because of how it won’t open when upside down.

        Tradition is what keeps F1 behind WEC (in addition to Ecclestone). Open cockpits, open wheels, inefficient aerodynamics. Are people willing to sacrifice safety for tradition?

        1. Considering Stewart was and remains a driving force in race safety, I think his opinion on this matter is very relevant.

        2. Hahaha keeps behind WEC. Ludicrous.

          1. One’s raced flat out on racing tyres with times getting quicker every year, the other’s predicated on tyre management and efficiency through driving in clean air.

            One’s got a growing fanbase and investment in the series the other has falling TV viewing figures and teams struggling to find sponsors.

            I’m not saying the WEC’s ahead of F1 but it’s growing whereas F1 is stagnating in it’s role as a cashcow for CVC and a marketing exercise for a couple of manufacturers and a drinks company.

        3. One thing is for sure, if F1 changes to a fully enveloped wheels and driver format, it will be such a big change that they might just as well change the name as well, which will allow them to ditch Bernie and the parasites at CVC, I’m for it.

          1. They’d still keep the tyres and the DRS …

        4. F1 is behind WEC?


      2. @daved

        Massa, Surtees, Wilson, Wheldon, Bianchi, Hinchcliffe

        You seem to be missing the point in what JYS was saying, of the above names you list, only Massa and Bianchi were F1 related incidents. Massa survived following which helmets have improved massively and Bianchi’s accident was not caused by an open cockpit but a huge great effin tractor being on the circuit at the wrong time, no canopy would have helped him!

        JYS was saying lets not rush to enclosed cockpits until we have seen evidence of there being a problem in F1. We have seen cars riding over other cars and whilst they have come close to hitting the drivers head they haven’t, mainly due to the high cockpit sides doing their job.

        This problem is more other category specific, the design of the indycar nosecone and how it attaches/comes away in an incident combined with there not being anywhere for the debris to go but back onto the track into the path of other cars. These are not problems F1 has to deal with.

        1. @asanator Well, I’ll let you tell Wilson’s little girls that it didn’t matter because it was not an F1 related incident.

          1. I’m not saying there isn’t a problem in other formulae. In Indycar there clearly is as I said, with the nature of oval racing the debris is confined to the track and from what I read the whole aero package of the current cars is prone to flying off at a moments notice, in large pieces. I’m just saying that I don’t think Formula 1 has the same dangers and the design of the cars and tracks mean such injuries are already substantially reduced.

          2. What an unnecessary and irrelevant comment.

    4. The problem I have with your idea is how do you support that longitudinal split while keeping the driver’s line of sight clear? How many canopies already in use in differing applications use such an arrangement?

      In my opinion you missed Sir Jackie’s big point, any changes need to be backed up with data before being implemented.

      1. And those explosive hinges, no problems likely there !?

        1. I was looking at it a bit more broad, but yeah, having an explosion about a foot away from someone’s head is never a good idea.

          1. An airbag is having an explosion about a foot away from someones head. Just a foot behind the drivers head there are hundreds of explosions every second in the engine. We are not talking about an explosion that will leave a smoking crater in the ground we are talking about a small spark that will juggle loose a saftypin.

          2. @tromoly You do know how internal combustion engines work, right? :p

      2. Most military jets remove the canopy by blowing the bolts and letting the passing air rip the canopy off. That won’t work in a crashed car obviously, and would present it’s own hazard anyway. The Harrier suffers from a similar problem – the riskiest point is when in the hover, when there is no airflow to get the canopy out of the pilots way. They solve this by imbedding explosive strips into the canopy itself, which shatter the canopy when required. I would imagine this would allay peoples fears about escaping a burning car.

        1. Indeed it works in that application, but to me it looks like the explosions themselves are several feet away from the pilot(s), a luxury not afforded by F1 cars.

          The shattering comment brings up another point of concern, in my experience most all forms of racing do not allow glass that can shatter, quite a few series have moved to Lexan or the like to prevent the possibility of glass shattering around the driver. So if a “shattering” canopy was used, that would re-introduce a problem.

    5. Well… last Sunday when Rosberg’s engine blew and caught fire.

      1. Was looking to see if anyone has commented this. That had to be put out straight away, not just a bit of body work on fire.

    6. that’s absolutely not the point. What we have isn’t perfect, that’s for sure. But trying to fix that in an uncomplete way isn’t the answer either.

      We don’t have problems with drivers stepping out of their cars quickly in case of fire, so adding a canopie to protect them without adressing the issue of an quick exit from a burning car is a totally WRONG way to deal with a problem. You must not create another.

      What Stewart asks is patience and time, not a knee-jerk reaction. Canopies can work, but they have to be designed in a certain way to make sure they respond in the best way possible to all dangers, not just debris hitting driver’s heads.

      I recommend the article written on Racercar Engineering about the subject: http://www.racecar-engineering.com/articles/features/how-easy-is-it-to-introduce-closed-cockpits-to-f1/

      1. +1, it seems many who read the article are latching onto the “upside-down burning vehicle” part rather than the “take time and fully flesh out the solution” part.

    7. Perhaps it hasn’t happened for a while, but if you’d been asked on the 24th of July 2009 when you last saw a driver knocked unconscious by a spring that fell off another car, you might have said never.

      The danger still exists, whether it’s happened recently or not.

    8. Actually there’s been more drivers jumping from burning cars I reckon, at least in F1, Heidfield in 2011 Bianchi and Webber in 2013, Kvyat and Hamilton last year and obviously Rosberg in Monza, I’m sure there’s many more but I can’t remember.

      In my opinion it’s not the fire but the smoke that is more worrying, if you look at Kvyat’s incident in Germany his cockpit was completely covered within seconds after stopping, if getting out of the car takes even just a few more seconds and requieres full visibility then it would’ve been a problem in this case.

      In the end though I don’t really care which direction they go since open cockpit is not the essence of F1 for me, being the fastest cars in the world is.

      1. lets also not forget the epic shots of Heikki Kovalainen extinguishing the fire on his own Caterham in Singapore not too long ago @mantresx. Yes, its not all THAT uncommon, just it currently doesn’t pose much of a problem because drivers can evacuate very fast!

        I agree that exactly what solution they settle on is not my largest concern. Far more important is that we have fast, race-able cars that are as safe as viable and we get the best teams and top drivers using them at great tracks.

    9. Rainy days can be messy with closed cockpits.

    10. Typical didactic Stewart really. Nobody is suggesting rushing into anything, but he has to be the wise voice telling everyone not to rush into it.

      He says nothing must be decided without a lot of research, then lays down his own unresearched opinion – which leaves out quite a few near misses.

      And he’s quite wrong about the Bianchi impact, where a few mm extra deflection between the two vehicles could clearly have made a crucial difference.

      1. While I agree that it seems odd to suggest some sort of canopy wouldn’t have helped Bianchi, I have no issue with anything JS has said. He’s been asked questions on the topic as an icon of safety in car racing, having been a front runner on the matter and having seen it all. Nobody is suggesting rushing into anything, and JS is not saying they are rushing…just cautions that they have to get it right. He doesn’t ‘have to be the wise voice’ he is just expressing his opinion when asked. Of course his opinion is ‘unresearched’ as in, he is not the engineer in the lab…he like everyone simply has concerns as he like everyone imagines various scenarios that the researches must consider. Ventilation is one. Having an impact causing the ‘canopy’ to malfunction and not open is another. What is relevant still today that goes back to JS’s time and before, is being able to get out of the car quickly. Or medics being able to get at driver.

        Personally I’m still intrigued with that ‘halo’ type design from Mercedes. Keeps things fairly open yet would provide extra protection in many instances. And I don’t buy the general arguments I’ve read about things like tires bouncing off a canopy or halo and into the crowd….that could happen now off any part of a car being hit by a flying tire, including it’s own tire, or the airbox etc.

        1. Yeah @robbie there are a lot of factors. I think they need to try everything. F1 aircon would be gorgeous surely, they’d have to be made to show us it :)

  6. Rossi has done well in GP2 this year, but I think Steiner is right to prefer drivers with recent F1 experience. Having drivers who can help them develop the car is the most important thing, and experienced drivers will have a better basis for saying what is right and wrong about the car. I’m predicting Gutierrez, Vergne, or Magnussen, in order of decreasing likelihood. Rossi might get the dreaded “test & reserve driver” slot, but I won’t be shocked if he doesn’t.

  7. Q: Shouldn’t an American team have an American driver? GS: There is nobody out there at the moment.”

    I would love to see Rossi’s face right now :P

    1. No American drivers who are realistic targets for the Haas team presently meet the superliscence requirements? This has certainly been my fear since the new requirements were published. Rossi is still short even with his decent GP2 year I believe. Thus I don’t think any of the comments made are really that surprising.

  8. In our debates about safety, I see arguments about something not happening recently or frequently as enough reason to discountenance such eventuality.
    Well I say think again. We’ve been blessed with almost unbelievable safety in recent years, but we mustn’t forget many have paid a price for us to reach such a high safety level.
    Those freak accidents that were never contemplated previously have created a need for most of these recent safety induced designs.
    It improving one area of safety compromises another area then there must be a rethink.
    At no time even during the recent history of refuelling have the cars been more prone to going up in flames than they are now. The ERS batteries sit right underneath the fuel tank. Who is to say a freak accident can’t have short circuit after an accident igniting the fuel and exposing a trapped driver to incineration.
    There may be a better approach to a closed cockpit but it may not have been thought of yet.

  9. I want closed cockpits just because I think it will allow for development in the field of Heads Up Displays for the drivers.

    It never gets talked about and I don’t understand why, I see it as a great opportunity for innovation. I’d love to know if the teams just haven’t thought about it, or there are other reasons why no one’s pursued it, even with helmets (although I can imagine some concern there with safety and the technology affecting the structural integrity.)

    1. And as a gamer you would probably like the cars driven remotely, 99.999% safety for the driver and vast savings for the teams with only the pit-crew needing to travel to the circuits. @skipgamer,

      Or come to think of it the whole race could be simulated from data gathered from testing a single car per team at the beginning of the year and dyno results from a single engine from each supplier, team finances solved.

      1. @hohum Not really, I mean not F1 anyway, virtual racing leagues will definitely reach greater popularity than they are currently at anyway, but that’s a totally different ball park…

        HUD displays however I think have real-world practical uses for cars and they’ll certainly be seen more and more in road cars. I don’t see any reason for them not to be incorporated in F1, just another technology after all. They could provide all sorts of information direct to the driver so they can make more informed choices themselves rather than relying on (or to aid) the pit wall.

        As for cars driven remotely… Have you seen the Drone Racing Leagues where some pilots are using Virtual Reality Displays (occulus rift and the like) and motion control to pilot their drones? There’s certainly some new possibility and exciting future for remotely controlled racing… But at the end of the day it will always be that, and not car racing.

        I don’t think your sarcasm was really warranted to be honest.

        1. @skipgamer, 1. cars like Jaguar, Mercedes etc. introduced HUDisplays years ago, afaik they worked fine but weren’t popular enough.
          2. I didn’t intend to criticize, merely point out that approaching a problem with a different outcome in mind can lead to a whole can of red herrings being introduced.

      2. we could just have them sim racing I guess. Although then Bernie might run into trouble with tracks not wanting to pay for the fun @hohum!

        Sure enough, this is not the real thing though.

        1. @bascb, Yes I foresaw Bernie demanding an 80/20 split (or 90/10) of profits, 80% to FOM in recognition of the great job they have done in cost savings for the teams.

      3. Will we still have the odd stray dog, possum, or lunatic invading the race every so often?

        1. Cockpit covers do have dangers look what happened to Goose in Top Gun.

  10. The whole American driver, American team argument is one that I’ve always found puzzling. For a start, I think looking to IndyCar would be better than Rossi, but that’s just my opinion. Secondly, we have an Indian team (the only team explicitly representing a nation) with no Indian driver, an Austrian team with no Austrian driver, two Italian teams with no Italian (race) drivers, etc. so why does Haas have to have an American driver? I think they’re doing the right thing going for experience over national pride. After all, this isn’t A1 GP. Teams are representing themselves, their brands and their sponsors, not the flag of the country financing them

    1. I think the reason why having an American driver would be ideal to Haas, or at least be a serious topic for discussion, is the US is still a hugely untapped market. F1 is still low on the sporting totem pole in the US BUT, unlike most countries, is on an upswing in viewers and popularity thanks to the USGP and NBC’s committed TV coverage. Just having Haas F1 will help those gains. Having an American driver present and successful though…that’s when F1 could truly become a “thing” in the US.

      Gene Haas is a smart guy though…he won’t force it. In NASCAR he turned a one-car minnow team into a four-car 2-time champion in less than a decade. He has a plan, and as today’s report showed, it sounds like a US driver isn’t part of those plans just yet. Hiring Gutierrez, as uninspiring a wheelman as he is, is the closest alternative (and sounds likely).

      I guarantee you though, as soon as its viable, Haas F1 will have their American driver. There’s too much $$$ on the table…

  11. Armchair specialists bashing Jackie Stewart. Internet is ridiculous sometimes.

    1. @edmarques Only sometimes? :)

    2. The problem is our current situation has the approval of experts. It shouldn’t need “armchair specialists” to say open cockpits are dangerous, it should be plainly obvious to the experts that having just a helmet visor between a driver’s eyes and some debris isn’t adequate.
      At almost every race we see bits of debris flying off cars. Vettel’s tyre failure caused bits of tyre tread and tyre wall to fly through the air. There are bits of car body flying around at the start of most races. It is time to change.
      As I read Stewart’s comment, it seems to me he isn’t saying “We must retain open cockpits”, but “Closed cockpits need to be done properly to be safe”, and that is something I agree with.

  12. no matter what happens, I will never support the implementation of closed cockpits. F1 is the pinnacle of open wheel racing and putting a shield of glass over the driver is not the right move. Motorsport will always be dangerous and the drivers know the risks. Introducing closed cockpits wI’ll be another step towards F1 losing its identity.

    1. What about a windshield?

    2. Agree with you.

      1. i cannot say I am really in favour of closed cockpits but I don’t know what the answer is either. Maybe some type of roll bar over the top or around the top above the field of vision?

    3. How does a closed cockpit make F1 loose its identity? At one time there weren’t any aerofoils, so did F1 loose its identity when they were brought it? At one time an F1 car had the engine in the front, so did F1 loose its identity when everyone shift to rear engined cars? Not so long ago F1 had skinny tyres, so did F1 loose its identity then?
      What is unique about F1 is it is the premier motor racing series, and currently it is an open wheel series. I don’t see how having a closed cockpit changes either of those two things.

  13. On another subject, F1 engines developing greater thermal efficiency to use less fuel per Kw/Hp is a great idea, and possibly the research into better fuels will have great benefits, If the additives are inexpensive and benign, if however all that extra power means a tank full of heavy metals like spent uranium or other additives like agent orange then the whole exercise is pointless and the FIA should re-instate the use of standard 98/104 Octane pump petrol.

    1. Very good point about keeping the additives to strict limits to avoid volatile and poisonous fuels @hohum. Afterall, ideally that fuel development should also be a path towards better fuels for the wider customer base of the producers.

      1. @bascb @hohum
        Shell’s race fuel research lab is in the Stanlow oil refinery, which is in my home town. I know one of the guys who works there and he reckons many of the additives being developed are detergents and lubricants that help reduce friction and the damage caused to components. This helps maintain the power output throughout the life of the engine, which is quite important now that they have to last for many races. They do test out additives that increase power output, but several decades of research means that they’re finding it more difficult to find gains in this area.
        There’s also a pretty quick transfer of technology from the race fuel to what we buy for our cars, which is encouraged by the rules that force teams to use petrol that’s very similar to, and based on, commercially available petrol.
        He’s obvious a little biased as he helped develop it, but he reckons the latest premium petrol they sell to the general public is better than the petrol they were supplying to race teams a decade ago.

        1. @beneboy, coincidentally Shell (in USA at least) a decade ago was selling fuel that was dissolving fuel-gauge senders and pumps immersed in it.

    2. I bet F1 can help the world find a way to save the panda as well.

      1. @jcost
        The population of Pandas has increased significantly since F1 started racing in China.
        Coincidence ?
        I think not :-)

        1. So they already doing it @beneboy :)

  14. McLaren – how long can they carry on bumping along at the back before things start getting difficult from a financial point of view? If Ron Dennis has to start putting his own money in, or go cap in hand to the Bahrain royal family, they might be looking at a Williams-style lost decade. They must be burning through cash, but pulling in much less than usual. Morale must be suffering. But each layoff would put them at further disadvantage.

    I don’t think Ron Dennis could bear another season like this one. I bet he’s been casting around for a plan B and a plan C. Maybe he’s had a friendly word with Mr Ghosn at Renault…?

    1. And ask yourself, how many people are going to want to spend $millions to buy a supercar from a company that is coming near last in F1.

      1. Still more people than they have space for in their order books, I reckon. But then I’d probably marry a P1 if such things were legal (and we’d have a little family of 650Ss together), so I might be a bit biased.

      2. Uou have to remember that honda are pumping in alot of money into the mclaren f1 team. I think that is one of the reasons ron and mclaren aren’t in too much of a rush to get some more sponsers

    2. To be so arrogant to ditch the Johnnie Walker offer.
      Maldonado ends up at McLaren, Mark my words.

    3. All the moves McLaren has been making since a year or two to me reek of desperation possibly combined with arrogance based on historical results. I see them going down the same path as Williams did. Hopefully they can turn it around before it’s too late.

      Many of the choices they have made to me do not seem worthy of a “top team”:
      – When Hamilton (clearly their best driver) left he was replaced by Magnussen. I am not saying Magnussen and Button are bad drivers, but when you are content with putting your #2 driver as #1 it doesn’t show much ambition IMHO.
      – Last year, with clearly the best engine they were only the third best Mercedes-powered team, arguably even slower than Force India, a team known to be in serious financial trouble and lacking the technical facilities to compete at the top (see article about why Renault prefer Lotus over FI due to infrastructure).
      – In terms of partnering up with Honda, I understand all the reasons they gave for doing this (to quote some: “you can’t win with a customer engine”, “we want to be a works team”, financial backing, etc.), but they weren’t even competitive with the best engine on the field, what makes them think they will be using an engine from a manufacturer that has had significantly less time to design it, by the time it is racing the competition will have had a whole year of experience with it (plus all the competitive years using the old V8 which I think still help), and most importantly of all: Honda’s last F1 adventure was a total disaster, throwing money around for very little results in a time when F1 was significantly less competitive and complex, highlighted by what in my book is the worst PR-happening in history (Brawn GP winning the Championship with Honda’s chassis and a Mercedes engine).
      – And now, to top it all off, they have (one of?) the most expensive driver line-ups on the grid, having fantastic multi-million pound fights in no man’s land, competing with two Manors in a car designed last year, one of which is driven by a driver who knows his position is so unstable he has not yet given up his FR-3.5 seat.

      I don’t see this improving any time soon. Both Honda and McLaren don’t have any reason to have faith in each other. From Honda’s point of view, if they really wanna go back to the top they should do whatever it takes to supply engines to Red Bull (not that they want them) and drop McLaren like a hot potato. From McLaren’s, I don’t see much options to be honest, other than hoping Honda produce a decent engine next year, and then being able to deliver some results before their financial situation deteriorates.

      1. Well said, but at the end, regarding Honda leaving mclaren, the issue is Ron Dennis and size zero. If he was more focused on car design than on clothing imaginary grid girls the car would be designed as a normal chassis to allow the engine and aero guys to work flexibly—not as some kind of test for Honda to see if they can build a proverbial ship in a bottle. We saw with Ferrari how playing aero and engine against each other didn’t work and the benefit of abandoning at theory. The solution is to tell Dennis to change the car or we will just start our own team or just stop wasting their time.

  15. I think we can safely infer from this article that Haas are fielding Gutierrez and Magnussen next year.

    A good choice – Esteban’s Telmex money plus the likely six figure premium McLaren would pay to run one of their proteges can allow Haas a decent budget – not that Vergne wouldn’t have been a better choice for pure performance. I’m glad Haas haven’t been tempted by Rossi.

    Alexander Rossi is in his sixth season of top tier single seater racing, and yet still has no title to show for his efforts. It has only really been the US flag that has prevented him from clattering through the age ceiling. For Rossi to have been considered a remotely viable option for Haas, he needed to be closer to Vandoorne this season. The only other American candidate, Josef Newgarden, did not flatter himself when he raced in Europe (a single Hockenheim pole in GP3 his only notable effort), and despite the fact that he has enjoyed an exemplary 2015 season in IndyCar, and regardless of the fact that IndyCar success is awarded more FIA super-licence points than GP3 or FR3.5, there is little in the way of overlap between F1 and IndyCar.

    In order for an American to drive in F1 he needs to be worthy of F1 – on that point I’m glad that Gene Haas agrees with me.

  16. “We are new, so we need a known quantity in the team.” Guenther Steiner on drivers

    In the Guenther Steiner article, this is quoted under a picture of Steiner talking to… Jacques Villeneuve. North American driver with F1 experience who’s recently announced an unexpected return to single-seater racing (Formula E) – getting back in shape for an F1 comeback? You heard it here first!

    1. If we go for JV, we could just as well have a look at a JPM. Both of them have been out of F1 for ages now, and while very experienced, and in the latter case at least, still clearly competitive, they would be of little help for a new team in current F1 @tom-l

      1. Lol, there’s nothing I would love more than to see JV back in F1 and it was amazing to hear of him doing Formula E. While I am not expecting him to be driving for Haas, Steiner would be wise to talk to JV about any and all aspects of F1 as he has experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows and has formed a brand new F1 team. His opinions should always be considered, whether ultimately agreed with or not. JV has raced many types of cars since he left F1 and is obviously still considered competitive enough, through testing, to land an FE drive. Today’s cars have been criticized for being too easy to drive, so I’m sure JV would do fine behind the wheel and would certainly at a minimum streamline many aspects of their learning curve vs. the inexperienced rookie type that Steiner wants to avoid. JPM would still be competitive too, but is not North American.

        1. I sure think that the experience of JV, especially him being an integral part of starting up BAR, can be of incredible value for Haas @robbie.

          And yes, I know that neither JPM nor JV are from the US. But both of them would turn some heads and probably get the same kind of attention as signing a US driver would.

  17. Shouldn’t an American team have an American driver? Well no, not necessarily.

    Do Ferrari have to field Italian drivers just because they are Italian? Of course not, no team has to field drivers of any nationality. So I fail to see why Haas should be required to field an American just because they are American. Yes, there are sound marketing reasons to do it, but marketing isn’t everything. Haas are talking a big game at the moment (and have done since they announced they were coming into F1) and I am sure that I am not alone in hoping they will do well. Their decision to refuse to give into this silly pressure of fielding a driver just because of his nationality is another positive move as far as I am concerned.

    1. @geemac Yes, but Ferrari can’t be accused of not wanting Italian drivers. The Ferrari Driver Academy has been a euphemistic campaign to find the next Italian star, however with Marciello and Fuoco not meeting their targets, the FDA is considered to be at risk. Ghiotto and Giovanazzi could however be the FDA’s salvation.

      Also, all Ferrari drivers are required to learn Italian. They are by far the most nationalistic team, I’m glad Haas hasn’t followed suit.

      1. @countrygent Nurturing talent from your home country is something that many teams do (Mercedes are looking after Pascal Wehrlien, McLaren support the BRDC/Autosport award every year) but no one is suggesting that any other team is required to field a driver solely because of their nationality. For example, no one is suggesting that Ferrari should give a drive to Marciello over someone like Hulkenberg solely because he is Italian.

        1. @geemac I don’t think the Mercedes, McLaren and Red Bull junior programmes can be seen as being nationalistic. Mercedes used to support Sam Bird, and until this year Mercedes were keenly supporting Daniel Juncadella’s bid to race in F1. McLaren currently support a Dane, a Belgian and a Dutchman, and Red Bull’s Austrian identity is so weak, we only remember it during the Austrian GP.

          McLaren’s grassroot efforts are somewhat beside the point. Ferrari are the only team that are seemingly preferentially supporting top tier drivers of a certain nationality with a view to a future F1 career. I would be astounded if Luca Ghiotto isn’t in a FDA funded GP2 seat next year.

          1. @countrygent Ok we have gone a long way off point. Apologies if I wasn’t clear, but I wasn’t trying to imply that everyone’s programmes are nationalistic, I was just saying that for one team (Haas) people seem to expect one thing (for them to pick an American driver because they happen to be American themselves) but this isn’t the case for all the other teams.

          2. Bianchi, Perez, Maïsano, and currently Lance Stroll and Guanyu Zhou, none of whom are Italian.

  18. Having someone survive the crash only to get burned alive is what’s at stake. Burned alive is the worst and I am pretty sure we will only have to witness it once before they get rid of canopys.

  19. I find it funny. An Austrian tells F1,com that there are no good young Americans out there. Clearly he couldn’t care less about the impressive seasons Rahal and Newgarden had had in Indycar. Or the very good season Rossi is having in GP2. As he’s the most F1 race ready US driver, clearly the best option would be to put him in a race seat alongside Vergne/Gutierrez(preferably JEV), and Rahal/Newgarden as test and 3rd driver. If they don’t have an American driver, the general public in the US won’t care, and why should they? It’s essentially a mostly foreign team with an Austrian in charge and race base in the UK.

    An American driver could change all that, but the big question is, does Haas care? He stated publicly that his goal in establishing team, was to promote Haas Automation products worldwide. In the US he might think that his NASCAR team is enough. All in all, a very sad situation for US openwheel fans. They’re being discounted completely and US drivers are suffering too as a result

    1. @montreal95 Steiner is not making a statement about the quality of any one driver, he is merely stating that as rookies in F1 themselves, they would be doing a disservice to themselves and said rookie by trying to learn so much at once such that they would risk utter failure. Far better for them to at least start off with drivers with F1 experience so that said drivers themselves are not going through a learning curve and therefore much less knowledgeable in helping the team progress. Let’s give Haas a few years in F1 and perhaps we WILL see a Rahal or a Newgarden on the team, once Haas has their bearings straight and would be able to help and guide a rookie to F1 once they are no longer rookies themselves.

      1. @robbie He doesn’t need to mention anyone explicitly. First he says “There are drivers in GP2 and F3”. He doesn’t even mention or acknowledge the existence of Rahal or Newgarden. Also, he tries to say that it could be bad for both driver and team, but he’s not convincing at all. Rossi was Marussia and Caterham test driver, he’s been around the paddock. And having an opportunity even if the risk is high that it’s only for 1 year is better than having no opportunity at all.

        So not better for the driver. It’s indeed better for the team, but only if being a truly an American team, that can connect to the general public in the US is not one of the team’s objectives. Which was my point precisely

        1. It comes down to this: which will bring Haas more money? A) finishing higher in the constructor’s championship or B) getting additional sponsorship. If it’s A, they run the very best drivers. If B, they take a gamble on Rossi or Newgarden.

  20. I think it is wrong to have different specs of engines in one race. It just creates this whole new ability for the big teams to manage (and keep behind) the customer teams.
    I know that the FIA rules are like Swiss cheese, but they clearly intended to have only one spec of each manufacturer’s engine during any race. I hope they go back to that in 2016.
    It is the responsibility of the engine manufacturer to produce sufficient units before introducing a new spec (that is of course if next year we continue to allow tokens to be used mid season).

    1. Yeah, the whole 4-engines rule is intended to limit the size and cost of the manufacturing facility, and it doesn’t match the loophole, @coldfly.

      Given this I think it’s fair to try a new spec before making a whole batch though. Sauber and Manor running different specs according to the price of them is a complication, and then this year-old engine idea is more of the same.

      We have to wait and see if Merc give all their customers the same deal now or if they hand them out to the best payer or whatever as they’re manufactured.

      I don’t see a solution for Red Bull, anyway. I can see Renault deciding the resourcing needed is too much, and Honda giving up too. Then something will have to be done.

      1. Manor is running a different spec Ferrari (2014 engine) because they are using their 2014 chassis and cannot fit the 2015 PU into it, not because of some conspiracy theory regarding engine supply. Just saying.

        1. Manor can’t afford either a new chassis or the 2015 engine. No money, no honey.

    1. Interesting? It’s absolutely terrible. Just a bunch of cliche lines pasted together. It was almost painful to read.

      1. I guess you don’t get what you read.

    2. thanks good article, or as per the last alinea “All different, all fascinating and all with their unique quirks. No one can ever say again that F1 drivers are all the same – or are anything but brilliant.”

  21. We don’t need closed cockpits, we need a closed CAR. The chassis has to be designed structurally to provide protection with visibility and ease of egress. A canopy can only be a stop-gap measure, for the next formula, before things can be reset for 2020. Even so, these concerns about egress are just concern-trolling by traditionalists or not thought-out. We are not talking about fire and explosion right now because over generations of the sport this issue was attacked and solved. where once fire was just seen as an inherent risk, now it’s just a non issue. In fact fires are now due to only car failure, not accidents, which to say how rare it is. And this talk of explosive bolts and what not is over the top. What other closed series requires fighter jet ejection system equipment? You need a latch– with mechanical backup mechanism inside the car and out.

  22. As per HAAS, Gutierrez will be announced in 2 weeks…the second seat will most likely go to Grosjean.

    1. And Sunday’s Lotto numbers are: 2, 5, 13, 21, 22, 28, 31!

  23. I’ve no doubt we will end up seeing closed cockpits, but it will be after the FIA setup a Head Collision Mitigation Working Group, after a few years of back and forth they’ll lay out a set of wildly open to interpretation rules, we’ll get a year of the cars looking like The Homer, fans will complain how ugly the cars now look. Teams will push the limts of those badly written rules to exploit and aero advantage.

    Phallic noses, stepped noses, coandă exhausts and double diffusers are just a few examples of the result of badly set out rules, I have no confidence closed cockpits will be any better.

    I don’t want F1 to be a spec series but I honestly think the best strategy is a standard survival cell and let the teams build a car round it.

  24. Reading some if the above and it just seems that if F1 goes to full canopies then doesnt it just become a sprint / lightweight version of WEC

    I am all for safety but F1 should remain as open wheel /seat formula

  25. Why don’t they just use armored glass (like on military vehicles) for a standard windscreen? No problems with getting the driver out of the car and-if it was designed properly-a substantial increase in safety. I am imagining something like the WWI fighter planes had, but updated to deflect both wind and debris. Although you might need wipers on it for rainy races.

  26. Closed cockpits = sports cars = bye bye dustybloke.

    1. http://www.upimg.fr/ih/di9p.jpg
      Does that look like a sportscar ?

  27. That’s the only noise Riccardo has made all year.

  28. I am very much against the idea of canopies being introduced, but no doubt they will make an appearance eventually. I just hope that it isn’t rushed.
    I understand that people are concerned about safety, and I agree that it is an important factor, however, since Senna, F1 has had a very good record of safety compared to other motor sports. In fact, open wheel racing has a pretty good record. You have to keep in mind that there are a lot of deaths we don’t hear about in other racing disciplines. I had a client at work who follows dirt bike racing and informed me that recently in Ireland three motor cross drivers were killed. To me, using a canopy would be like motor cross making all of their bikers ride around on bike encased in a bubble.. considering how dangerous F1 is, the fact that very few drivers have lost their lives makes me feel that introducing canopies is a knee-jerk reaction.

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