Formula 1 Cars Could Get Closed Cockpit By 2017
Calls for safety have intensified in the wake of the deaths of Jules Bianchi and Justin Wilsonby Kirby Garlitos, on
Big changes could be in store with the design of Formula One cars beginning in 2017. F1 drivers have long pushed for the introduction of a “halo” closed cockpit design and, if they have their way, the new safety measure could be put in place in time for the 2017 season.
Drivers have become increasingly adamant of having a closed cockpit on the cars in the wake of the deaths of Jules Bianchi and Justin Wilson, both of whom lost their lives because of head injuries they sustained while racing in Formula One and IndyCar, respectively.
Grand Prix Drivers’ Association chairman Alex Wurz is calling for the implementation of a halo-style bar that wraps around the head but does not limit the driver’s visibility. Speaking with the BBC, Wurz emphasized the clear need to have the safety feature installed to help improve head protection and reduce the risk of drivers being exposed to the elements in the event of a crash.
A large contingent of F1 drivers are reportedly supporting this move and are calling Formula One’s technical committee to approve a design in time for the 2017 season. That would give teams enough time to develop a car that would include a closed cockpit. “Obviously structural changes are required to the chassis but, with almost a one-year lead time, I don’t see any technical person speaking against such substantial safety improvements,” Wurz told the BBC.
The deaths of Bianchi and Wilson triggered this call for increased head safety, but the two tragic crashes are just a few of the many incidents that have resulted in drivers sustaining serious injuries to the head because of the lack of protection in that area. Back in 2009, F1 driver Felipe Massa suffered severe injuries after getting stuck in the head by a suspension spring.
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Why it matters
I’m in agreement with the Formula One drivers here and I’m actually surprised that such a move hasn’t been made yet. No matter what sport it is, the athlete’s safety should always be the top priority. It’s especially more important in the world of open-wheel racing where drivers are subjected to higher risks than most other sports.
We’ve seen injuries and deaths in motor racing happen because of a variety of reasons and, while some can just be attributed to bad luck, there should always be a premium placed on making sure that drivers feel safe whenever they’re racing out on any track.
Honestly, I’m not too familiar with the kind of protection that will be put in place in cars if this measure is approved by the FIA. All I know is that it’s going to be a windshield of sorts that will wrap around the cockpit of the driver. I can’t say how that’s going to improve because I’ve yet to see tests done on it, but according to the GPDA, there has been enough research and testing done to justify using it in actual races. On that end, I’m not going to disagree because if the drivers think that this new safety cockpit will protect them, then by all means, I won’t go against what they say.
I just hope that it happens sooner or later because if there’s a way to protect the drivers from suffering the same fate as Bianchi and Wilson, then everything must be done to ensure that it happens.
Motor sport racing cannot have another death on its hands. We’ve seen too many in recent years and it just has to stop. Drivers like Bianchi and Wilson shouldn’t have lost their lives because of this and no matter how some people try to spin it as being part of the dangers of auto racing, once incident is still, and will always be, one too many.