Juan Pablo Montoya, Porsche, Bahrain International Circuit, 2015

Di Grassi urges fully closed cockpits for F1

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In the round-up: Former F1 racer Lucas di Grassi says F1 should have LMP1-style cockpit covers.

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Vitantonio Liuzzi, Pink, Christian Klien, Red Bull, Melbourne, 2005

After lapping within 12 seconds of Marco Sorenson in the simulator, Pink prepares for her seat fitting.
Pat Ruadh (@Fullcoursecaution)

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  • 53 comments on “Di Grassi urges fully closed cockpits for F1”

    1. Not sure if engine was switched off or broke down..

    2. A more balanced headline would have been “Drivers have mixed opinions on closed cockpits”

      1. @hohum Been a while since I’ve seen a balanced title of the roundup here.

      2. @hohum the motorsport article is equally unbalanced “Felix da Costa critical of F1’s closed cockpit push” given that of the two drivers referred to only one was critical.

        It’s also worth pointing out that only one of the drivers was an F1 driver. All da Costa seemed to say on the subject was pretty much a repetition of some poor cliches and non-arguments, my favourite being

        that’s why there’s only around 20 drivers in a category, rather than 100,000

        I don’t think his prophecy of 100,000 F1 drivers is likely to come about from the introduction of the halo or even fully closed cockpit, although at least he would finally get his F1 race seat if it did.

    3. Closed cockpits are I imagine one of those things where people will look back in 15-20 years and think “christ, we must have been crazy to race without them”, like modern helmets, HANS devices, seatbelts, carbon fibre cockpits etc. However, I do feel the drivers’ demand for something to be introduced next year is a bit premature considering how little analysis has been done.

      You would assume the rules would need to be set in stone by the summer break at the latest, which doesn’t leave much time to do more R&D. I hope the FIA don’t feel pressured into introducing an inadequate solution, although so long as there are no incidents involving head injuries this season I expect it’ll get pushed back (if there is an incident I would expect a kneejerk reaction).

      1. I think any rule changes for next year would have to be done under a “force majure” type rule after February 28th (not sure of the exact date)…I believe that’s why there is such a push for the aero/engine rules to be finalized because once that date passes a rule change needs to be agreed unanimously amongst the teams.

      2. I’m still sat on the fence regarding whether I want closed cockpits or not, but i’m unconvinced that the halo would have done anything for Massa. That spring would have still hit him at full speed.
        I would like to have though such a thing would have helped Wilson and Bianchi, but i’d still like to see more research and facts and less opinions.

        1. Sorry, was mean to be a reply to the next comment down!

          1. I’m convinced that the halo or something similar is the only thing they can do feasibly without totally changing F1 and spending and risking billions on starting from scratch. They do not need to find the perfect solution that will account for all situations, nor can they or will they ever. An enclosed cockpit in racing has never proved to prevent all fatalities anyway, but at least implementing something feasible that can be quite easily and inexpensively added without completely changing F1, can take it a big step further in protecting drivers.

      3. and i think you and Di Grassi are irrelevant and so are your opinions on a subject that doesn’t affect you.

    4. @george

      You would assume the rules would need to be set in stone by the summer break at the latest

      2017 regulations have to be in place by March 1st, Any technical regulation changes for 2017 beyond that date require the unanimous agreement of all parties.

      With regards to your 1st paragraph; I think the closed cockpit debate is slightly different to things like HANS, Safety belts etc.. in that in many people’s eye’s closed cockpits fundamentally change the definition of F1; That been Open wheel, Open Cockpit.

      1. in that in many people’s eye’s closed cockpits fundamentally change the definition of F1; That been Open wheel, Open Cockpit.

        I don’t believe that argument stands up to the safety argument, it’s all very well the fans complaining about aesthetics but we’re not the ones potentially getting decapitated.

        1. If they don’t want the seat, I’ll happily take it. I raced open cockpit, open wheel for 4 years. It’s part of the game. Christ, I paid for the privilege. These losers receive money for doing it. What is this world coming to. Emasculated product wearing blouses need to grow something between their legs. Man up. What next? Enclosed moto GP racing?

          1. So, essentially what you are espousing is exactly the same argument that Jenkinson did back in the 1970’s when Stewart wanted the sport to introduce additional safety measures (I was OK when I raced, so the drivers are cowards for demanding new safety measures).

            1. No. I’m saying the risks are ALREADY AT AN ACCEPTABLY LOW LEVEL!

              It really is that simple.

              Who decides where this stops?

              If we want to be safe… Why don’t we enclose the driver inside a crash proof cocoon with video sceens inside linked to ouside cameras???

              Why only F1? Surely we myst ban and modify all historic racing cars if you follow this logic?

            2. The wider public also complained that the sport had become too sanitised before the deaths of Ratzenberger and Senna in the 1990’s and similarly complained about the lack of risk before Bianchi’s fatal crash occurred.

              I drew the comparison with Stewart’s critics as you have done the exact same thing as they did – you did not question the validity of the safety measures, but instead attacked the drivers for not being “man enough”.

            3. @drone will change his tune the instant someone is decapitated

      2. ” in that in many people’s eye’s closed cockpits fundamentally change the definition of F1; That been Open wheel, Open Cockpit.” @gt-racer

        I’ve always felt the same way too, until recently. When I saw debris fly fifty feet or more in the air after bouncing off of Justin Wilson’s helmet it was the last straw. Some people argue that wasn’t F1 and it could never happen there. I say bull. Ask Felipe Massa. What about last season when Alonso’s car landed on top of Kimi and could have crushed his head? It can happen.

        Closed cockpits can save lives and prevent some injuries. I suppose the same argument could be made that not letting fans stand right on or next to the race course fundamentally changed the definition of F1. I’m sure fans denied feeling the air from F1 cars whizzing by close enough to reach out and touch them may have felt that was the case when rules changed and that was no longer allowed for safety reasons.

        This is coming from an old school F1 fan since 1965 who has always loved the thrill of the open cockpit. I have seen too many racing heroes lose their lives in this sport we love so much. At least some of their lives could have been saved with improved safety.

        It will be argued that closed cockpits will not prevent all injuries or even deaths. This is true in much the same way that seat belts, helmets and many other safety devices also do not prevent all deaths or injuries. But, they do prevent many and isn’t that a worthy goal? I would much rather see a future with closed cockpits in F1 (and IndyCar) than to see one more accident like Justin Wilson’s or Felipe Massa’s.

        1. Why don’t we make boxers wear neck braces and crash helmets? Oh… because it would fundamentally change boxing. Why don’t we make American Football a non-contact sport to avoid all the brain damage? Well… it would fundamentally change it. Perhaps we should just give up on sending people into space as that is incredibly dangerous with a very high death rate?

          Yes, F1 is dangerous, but on the balance, since Senna/Ratzenberger 21 years ago the sport has been incredibly safe. I would like to see a graph of deaths per year in F1 since the 1950s to give perspective to this.

          I think they should fire a LMP1 car at the massive weight on the back of a construction vehicle at 120MPH to see if it survives the impact. Or even the “halo” frame they are actually considering…

          I don’t think there is a need to make a fundamental change because of knee-jerk reactions. Instead they should look at what has actually happened in the past and see what ways there are to reduce the risk without changing the character of the sport. I’m sure there are many. It seems the logical approach to me.

          1. Consider the Mercedes W196, one of the most revered and considered the most beautiful F1 car ever in a poll some years ago in F1 Racing magazine. It was not an open wheeler, at least not initially, and not in the photo used in that magazine article nor in the recent ‘Art of the Formula One car’ book.

            Does this mean it is not right to call it a Formula One car? No.
            Times change, and I do not want to be the kind of fan who doesn’t mind a young guy dying for my viewing pleasure. When a problem is getting worse, with three deaths (the young Surtees kid, Bianchi and Wilson) in recent years along with a near miss with Massa, and yet a solution exists why not use it?

            As Red Bull with their fictional X1/2010/2014, Ferrari with their recent closed cockpit design, and McLaren with their concept all have shown, closed cockpits need not be ugly. To my mind, with the RBR and McLaren concepts also showing wheel covers which would massively reduce drag, the 2017 rules are a massive opportunity to not only increase safety but also revolutionise what an F1 car looks like. Shake it up a bit. These guys and girls are the best engineers in the world – challenge them.

            My favourite cars are varied but include those from the 70s with their bulbous fuel tanks alongside the driver, the early 90s with their wide slicks and wider tracks, the 2009/10 seasons with ultra high noses and shark fins. These may no longer exist on current F1 cars but that doesn’t mean I would watch the sport. Closed cockpits would be different, but so long as the cars are cool and fast and the best drivers are driving, I’ll be happy with that. And if the drivers are safer, I’ll be even happier.

          2. “I think they should fire a LMP1 car at the massive weight on the back of a construction vehicle at 120MPH to see if it survives the impact.” Andy

            You are obviously referring here to Jules Bianchi’s accident. That is a totally different safety issue. Tractors, cranes and like vehicles should never be allowed on a live track. Myself and many others have stated that repeatedly since Bianchi’s unfortunate tragedy. An F1 car can’t ever hit a tractor if they are not allowed on a live track at the same time. It is unknown, but possibly unlikely a closed cockpit would not have been effective in this case. That is why I did not reference it in my original post.

            This is not a knee jerk reaction. I have been a F1 fan for about 50 years now. I felt like you do regarding the open cockpit for a long time. I have gradually come to accept that having a closed cockpit can improve safety, prevent some injuries and deaths while still enjoying F1 cars racing in close competition at high speeds. It will still be dangerous. No single safety device or measure can completely remove all of the danger from auto racing. But, the reason F1, and motorsport in general, is safer today than it was 50 years ago is that safety measures and devices have been continually improved and progressively added to keep drivers, teams, officials and fans safer while enjoying an inherently dangerous sport.

            As I said before, I would rather see a future with closed cockpits in F1 (and IndyCar) than to see one more injury or death that could have been prevented by having them.

            1. It is unknown, but possibly unlikely a closed cockpit would not have been effective in this case.

              Ooops, meant to say: It is unknown, but possibly likely a closed cockpit would not have been effective in this case.

          3. Why don’t we make boxers wear neck braces and crash helmets?

            Because they’re not subjected to forces over 50G in a crash.

        2. @bullmello true!
          Also last year at Sotchi there was Hulkenberg almost beheaded by Ericsson’s car too, similar to Alonso / Kimi incident.
          One day, it will not miss. Time to move before it’s too late.

          1. Things could have gone way worse as well with the Spa 2012 crash where Grosean flew over Alonso

      3. @gt-racer F1 has been fundamentally changed before, and not even in the name of safety, without causing a problem. When he stakes are this high how can this argument hold any water?

    5. the headline seems a bit biased….

      I fully agree with what da Costa is saying, part of F1’s attraction is its danger aspect.

      1. Why does it have to be mortal danger? Is driving at 250+ kph between the barriers at Monaco not dangerous enough?

    6. That HAAS quote is pretty funny, I bet Red Bull would beg to differ with how their last two seasons have gone compared to their testing.

      As for the closed cockpits, I understand F1 treading carefully. The volume is gone, famous tracks are disappearing, enclosing the cockpits could be the nail in the coffin for many fans.

    7. Don’t need Di Grassi to point out the obvious. For one reason or the other f1 has never embraced closed cockpits, or covered wheels. The reason for that is beyond performance, covered wheels were not always banned but the “formula” car is a thing. I think it’s not in the best interest of f1 to adopt closed cockpits not to mention that it’s safety in LeMans is not as rigorous as the safety of f1, if you are to make a safety change you have the responsibility of making it as safe as possible, an improvement as such as HANS or tethered wheels, no downsides.

      1. @peartree don’t you remember all of the complaints when HANS was made mandatory?

      2. I’m pretty sure LMP cars are held to the same crash test standards as F1 cars; under the LMP skin, they’re built the same way

        1. @raceprouk No racing series is as stringent as F1 is relating to crash test standards. Since when are lmp cars and f1’s the same, both have honeycomb carbon chassis but apart from that everything is different, with suspension and the 2 seat rule being the most important differences structurally, not to mention the roof.
          @jerseyf1 You have a point there, HANS isn’t 100% safer than not having HANS but going straight to the point, current LMP1 closed cockpits are not only uncomfortable but fragile, doors flying off and drivers hurting themselves seriously after crashes.

          1. Since when are lmp cars and f1’s the same, both have honeycomb carbon chassis but apart from that everything is different

            Apart from the carbon fibre monocoque, deformable crash structures on all four sides, and the mid-mounted engine being a stressed chassis member. LMP cars are, at their heart, Formula cars in frocks; the shapes may be different, but the fundamentals are the same.

            current LMP1 closed cockpits are not only uncomfortable but fragile

            Are you kidding? Are you seriously claiming that LMP closed cockpits are not built to withstand crash impacts? I know you don’t like the WEC, but you could at least do some research before spouting such nonsense; that way, you wouldn’t make such a fool of yourself.

    8. “I would like to have lived in the 80s, 90s. Everything was much more simple, there was not that much politics. It was more just ‘driver, car and let’s go’.”

      Felix is showing his age and lack of research. It was VERY political in the 80’s and 90’s. And I’d dare to say it’s been political since day one. Felix, you’re too young for rose-tinted glasses.

    9. I still think reinforced windscreens is enough and it looks cool too. And before you say it wouldn’t help Jules case type think he hadn’t any protection then his helmet. While it’s hard to gues would it helped in that cause we never know but accidents like Massa and Wilson would be prevented.
      In my racing days (karts) i checked my visor every race and the other racers will confure how many dirt and puts on your visor is.

    10. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      15th February 2016, 9:56

      Finally the bride of the caption competition :D *inner fist pump*
      Thanks Keith!

      1. And what a caption it was.

    11. Really hoping Haas actually can get out on the track and run up mileage. They “seem” to have done all the right things in preparing for entry into F1 but we won’t know whether they have until testing starts.

      Given the disasters that have occurred in testing the last two seasons being able to actually run the car will be a dream start.

      I imagine Mclaren, Red Bull, Renault and Toro Rosso will also be hoping that they can actually get out of the garage as well.
      So excited – only a week to go and all the “fluff” stories can be replaced by real ones.

      1. I hope Haas makes it as well to the first test. @dbradock
        7 years ago we expected 4 new teams and only 1 (Manor aka Virgin) had a cameo appearance on day 1.

    12. Another day, another ex-F1 driver commenting on F1.

      1. On the point of closed cockpits: It is such a fundamental shift for the sport it should be thought through as such. retrofitting concepts like the halo is all well and good, but they will be compromised unless they are integrated properly. We are throwing out the rule book for 2017 (apparently), so why not fundamentally rethink the cockpit as well so that it incorporates well thought through, purpose built devices to keep the drivers head’s safe? The whole survival cell should be rethought to get the best result for the drivers, the sport and the fans.

        1. I don’t disagree with what you are saying but I just don’t think it is feasible overall unless they are prepared to spend massive amounts of money and change the look of F1 as well. I’m confident they have looked at this issue from all angles over many years now, and have come to the conclusion that they are not able to just slap a bubble over the existing cockpit opening without creating more problems than it would solve. A halo can be added relatively easily and inexpensively and would be effective for many situations involving more damaging large pieces of debris like tires, or a another car coming over top in an accident, without causing a whole rethink from the ground up of what constitutes an F1 car, which is what I think it would take to get to an enclosed cockpit.

    13. The only way to be completely safe is to make virtual cockpits. And even then a driver might choke on the Gatorade.

      1. So we shouldn’t bother improving safety then?

    14. I’m a traditionalist in almost every sense when it comes to Formula 1. But when it comes to driver safety I am all for progress. If you had asked me in 2008 if DRS, KERS and closed cockpits were good for the sport I would have been fiercely opposed to all 3. DRS has in no way won me over but there were times at the start of last season where I was almost glad that we had it.That is not a softening of approach on my part, simply that the rules are so restrictive that the sport manufactures boredom in this era. KERS I was happy to see integrated into the power unit as I felt that as a stand alone push-to-pass device was unfair. Fisichella’s performance at Spa in 2009 only confirmed this view for me.

      That leads us to closed cockpits. Is Formula 1 safe? Unquestionably. Would you go to your work knowing you could change something for the better in terms of colleagues safety and do nothing about it? I’d hope not. Now you could argue that we are not as well paid or that we do not have to accept risks and I’m fine with that but in the last few years we could have lost many drivers in an area we know to be unsafe. That’s almost manslaughter. At best its gross negligence. For those who are entrenched in the opinion that death is no longer part of F1 there is a rather sad roll call from the last 10 years for you. I am sure I was not alone in having the callous view that F1 was ‘due a death’ before Bianchi. I had seen too many close shaves to write off to bad luck.

      When I was at Spa 2012 I watched my hero be within 2 inches of decapitation and believe me that was not something I want to repeat. Yet with Alonso he had Perez’s tyre in Silverstone 2013 and Raikkonen in Austria 2015 too. Imagine if we had lost Alonso in the run up to the end of the 2012 season. I probably wouldn’t watch F1 again. I was also standing next to an 8 year old there which I think would not be a great experience for his parents. Don’t get me wrong I have seen all the crashes where drivers have died and Bianchi’s appalled me as well but I think the line is drawn when the accident can be foreseen. With Bianchi it was a tragedy; closed cockpits would have made no difference. But what about the other drivers we could have lost in the last decade:
      Wurz: missed by DC by no distance (2007)
      Massa: 2008 runner up and top Ferrari driver in 2009 – near miss (coma) (2009)
      Surtees: Dead from tyre impact (2009)
      Schumacher: Liuzzi Abu Dhabi (2010)
      Alonso: Start accident (2012), tyre carcass (2013)
      Wilson: Death from debris (2015)
      Raikkonen: Alonso above him (2015)

      Some of these drivers are all-time greats, superstars of our era. Yes, the generations before lost Senna, Villeneuve, Peterson, Cevert, Pryce et al. but should we really accept death for reasons of tradition? F1 lead a charmed life before Bianchi and without wanting to scaremonger there were plenty other monster accidents after Senna and before Bianchi. I was opposed initially but I can’t help feel that approach is now out of touch. I don’t want to make hurtful accusations but I’m sure we can all think of opinions in the 20th Century which no longer look so well meaning and agree they were in need of change. I now believe we’ll look back at open cockpits and say that we moved on for the right reasons and that’s good enough for my traditionalist values.

      1. +1 you got me comvinced!

    15. Could we vote about cockpits?
      A, closed cockpit
      B, halo
      C, open cockpit (like nowadays)
      I would choose A.
      http://imgur.com/a/DF5Ra
      or Red Bull X prototype: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Bull_X2010
      A closed cockpit has to be: (like jet fighters)
      1. “self-cleaning” from rain, dirt, vapor etc in order to visibility (or use windshield wiper)
      2. as strong as possible (at least bulletproof)
      3. easily removable from inside and outside in case of accidents or pit stops: brake, dent

      And could somebody summarise the advantages and disadvantages of the different kind of cockpits?
      Safety, price, weight, time to introduce, efficiency in aero (of course they can be hard to answer)

      1. I’ve never seen a design like the one in the Imgur link. People point out that the canopy opening has an issue when the car is flipped over. But that design gave me another idea.
        What if the canopy could slide forward, perhaps even be collapsible? I see that the driver is able to open the cockpit by pushing up, but how about if they could also push it forward?

    16. After lapping within 12 seconds of Marco Sorenson in the simulator, Pink prepares for her seat fitting.

      Lol that’s funny. Pat nailed it.

    17. Did the Bianchi report say he would if got the same injury with a cockpit cover? An LMP1 car driver would probably die crashing into a tractor at speed. The issue was an unguarded tractor thats what should be looked at. The only time a cockpit cover would help or a screen would be for Massa in 2009 but helmet design changed since then and that would not happen today. There could always be a far fetched reason for a cover but I see no reason in modern F1 for it.

      1. Yes, the FIA said that the closed cockpit wouldn’t have done anything to help Bianchi. Of course some would debate that. Personally I think that the tractor should have been made safer, like the truck that De Villota crashed into in 2012.

        1. I think there are pro’s and con’s in equal measure for putting in cockpit covers and staying as is. The evidence is not compelling to either solution so for me might as well stay the same but it is an area that should always be looked into as someone may come up with a great solution that can really make a difference. At this stage that just does not exist from what I have heard.

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