3 September 2015
Button: Wilson death has changed opinion on canopies
"I was one of many that said this is open cockpit racing and it should stay as open cockpit racing, but I think we've all had enough now..."
Jenson Button says the death of former racing rival Justin Wilson has changed his opinion regarding the introduction of canopies in open-wheel racing, saying 'it time for motorsport to do something serious about it'.
Former F1 driver Wilson was tragically killed during an IndyCar Series race at Pocono last week when he was struck by debris from an unrelated accident up ahead, leaving him with critical head injuries.
The circumstances of his death have duly opened up the debate about open-cockpit cars in motorsport once more, with several figures expressing their view that more needs to be done to protect drivers from such incidents.
Though opinion over whether the DNA of single-seater racing should be altered to include closed-cockpit cars or canopy structures has ultimately been hesitant, Button says his view has changed entirely in the wake of Wilson's accident.
Also, referencing the death of Henry Surtees in a Formula 2 race in 2009, who was killed after being struck by an errant wheel from another car, Button says too many deaths have occurred in motorsport as a result of head injuries and more needs to be done to prevent it.
“It's very sad to see what happened and I think we're all pretty devastated by it. One, because you know the guy, you've raced against him in karting, raced against him in Formula One as well, but also because this just shouldn't happen at this time in motorsport. It's not the Seventies, we should know better.
“I was one of many drivers that said this is open cockpit racing and it should stay as open cockpit racing, but I think we've all had enough now. It's time to do something serious about it, not just changing the headrests on the cars and things, I think you've got to get a canopy on the car of some sort because we can't have this happening as much as it has over the last few years.
“Since Henry Surtees there's been a lot of head injuries that have ended up with death, so it's got to be changed.”
Discussing how such changes can possibly be achieved and when, though Button admits it may take time for measures to be adopted in F1, he says series' as IndyCar – where the walled banking creates a more contained environment – should be looking at swift changes.
“A canopy I think works. Having blades around your head - obviously they're not supposed to break but from an unusual impact possibly they could, I don't know. A canopy is probably the way to go. Obviously that takes time, I can't see it happening for next year in Formula One.
“I personally think it has to happen sooner rather than later and I think in IndyCar it has to happen because they seem to have a lot more issues than we do. Because of the speeds they're travelling as well and every accident there's debris because you can't get away from the banking when you crash. So I think it would be good if we could see canopies sooner rather than later.”
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