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More driver head protection 'inevitable'

The series has already built up side protection around the cockpit area, despite drivers' objections that it impeded their visibility during a race. But the sport's Technical Working Group has aiming to introduce further regulation changes for 2014 to go much further.

"We are working with the Federation to try to work on the right system of protection. With what we have tested or are working on there are also some problems that you may have," said Domenicali. "We need to be very careful on all these devices. We are still working with the federation to find a possible solution," he continued, adding that they "are working very hard."

Speaking to BBC Sport the day after the crash at Spa, McLaren's Paddy Lowe said that he felt changes were coming - and soon. "Something is inevitable because it is the one big exposure we've got," he said.

One idea that won't go away is a cover for the cockpit, similar to that on a jet plane. Last month, the National Hot Rod Association in the US finally approved designs to add canopies to their dragsters - a revolutionary shift for the sport, adding pressure on other open cockpit series to follow suit. However, the full canopy idea is unpopular in F1 circles as the material used would likely distort a driver's vision, and could even end up trapping the driver in the car after an accident and interfering with extraction.

"I don't like closed cockpits myself," confessed Martin Whitmarsh. "But we've got to think through what we could have done. I think people underestimate what a [closed] cockpit would have to be and how it could make the situation worse.

"You put this glass bubble over the driver, but you can't assume that they're safer," he explained. "A lot of work went on in aviation and it's amazing how difficult it is to protect a driver or a pilot and allow them to see through it in an undistorted manner. There's all sorts of other incidents with cars overturning or fires in the cockpit."

Instead, an open roll-bar cage in front of the driver is increasingly emerging as the preferred option, according to Lowe.

"Obviously a driver ideally wants nothing in the way [of his field of vision]," he agreed. "But in the same way we drive a road car with pillars or an old VW bus with centre pillar, you just get used to it, don't you?"

Simulator testing has shown that in use, drivers quickly compensated for the presence of any roll-bar support struts. "Your mind works out a way around it," providing the pillars are sympathetically sized and designed, said Lowe.

He added that a prototype design had already been constructed and had been tested with impacts from various objects, including tyres.

"The current test piece looks very ugly," he admitted. "The next bit is to try to produce a more optimal design."

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Felipe Massa - Ferrari F60
23.06.2012- Bernie Ecclestone (GBR), President and CEO of Formula One Management  and Stefano Domenicali (ITA), Team Principal
27.07.2012- Free Practice 2, Martin Whitmarsh (GBR), Chief Executive Officer Mclaren and Stefano Domenicali (ITA), Team Principal
22.07.2012 - Race,   Paddy Lowe (GBR) McLaren Technical Director with Charlie Whiting (GBR) FIA Delegate on the grid
28.07.2012- Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 pole position and Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-27
25.06.2017 - Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
25.06.2017 - Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
25.06.2017 - Race, The race stopped, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32 and the Safety car
25.06.2017 - Race, The Safety car and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
25.06.2017 - Race, Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32
25.06.2017 - Race, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM010 and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
25.06.2017 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08 and the Safety car
25.06.2017 - Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32 and Marcus Ericsson (SUE) Sauber C36
25.06.2017 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
25.06.2017 - Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32 and 3rd place Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, Safety car
25.06.2017 - Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
25.06.2017 - Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H

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Si - Unregistered

September 03, 2012 3:55 PM

Either its open seat racing or it isnt , Nobody want to see any injury's, But you might as well put F1 drivers in GT cars as there will be little difference ..

Caroline - Unregistered

September 03, 2012 2:57 PM

There is of course the argument that the safer you make the racing, the more risks a driver will take, leading to more frequent, and more dramatic accidents, leading on to more safety measures, until the only remaining safety measure is to stop the racing altogether.

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