Rumours that the FIA was to mandate protective 'windscreens' for F1 cars from next season appear to be a little wide of the mark, although revised head protection measures could be introduced following recent on-track incidents.
Pre-Christmas reports in respected Italian magazine Autosprint
suggested that screens could be introduced to protect drivers from flying debris such as that which put Felipe Massa in hospital during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, but subsequent stories now claim that they may have been a step too far in the redesign of safety measures in the top flight.
While Massa's accident is not being treated lightly, it remains a freak occurrence - the Brazilian was hit by a spring shed by countryman Rubens Barrichello's Brawn during the 2009 visit to Budapest - and the FIA is apparently more concerned with the more common incidence of cars riding up over others in the area of the cockpit. This has happened at several races in 2010 alone, with Michael Schumacher lucky to avoid serious injury at the season finale in Abu Dhabi after an unsighted Tonio Liuzzi found the German's Mercedes in his path on the opening lap.
claimed that the windscreen - which it illustrated with a mock-up involving Fernando Alonso's Ferrari - would be designed to withstand the impact of a flying wheel and the full 640kg weight of an F1 car, but accepted that the introduction of such a modification would also have serious implications on the aerodynamic properties of the car, notably the flow of air to the airbox and rear wing.
Another Italian source, 422race.com
, now suggests that the governing body is ready to ditch its more extreme plan in favour of a simpler modification to the head protection already in place in the modern F1 cockpit. This too, however, would require a change in thinking for the designers, who would have hoped to be close to signing off the final specification of their 2011 machines with launches due over the next 4-6 weeks.