Drivers want to see increased cockpit protection introduced to motorsport by next year in an effort to take the sport into a new era of driver safety, according to Grand Prix Drivers' Association president Alex Wurz.

The topic of closed, or protected, cockpits has been on the agenda for some years, but the topic has gained more prominence in recent years following the deaths of Jules Bianchi and Justin Wilson.

Though it was considered Bianchi, who died nine months after striking a recovery vehicle during the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, would not have been saved by cockpit protection, it is felt Wilson's death - when he was struck by errant debris during an IndyCar race at Pocono - could have been avoided.

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Since Bianchi's death, the FIA has looked into several methods of cockpit safety, though this was brought further to the fore after Wilson's death in August 2015, with drivers raising their voice about the need for increased cockpit protection.

Ex-McLaren and Williams driver Wurz, who retired from racing in November 2014 to focus on his GPDA role, says he has been impressed by the 'thorough' research done on this, but feels the time to take the plans from concept to reality as early as 2017.

"The research the FIA experts have done is very thorough and the process has brought forward a clear solution," he told the BBC. "Now the drivers feel it's time to implement the extra protection at the latest in 2017."

"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, especially given the last big accidents in open-wheel racing involved head injuries. So all the drivers, and I, hope that passing the additional head protection will be a formality."

It is believed the 'halo' concept, which sees a ring above and ahead of the driver with a central supporting strut ahead of the eye-line is considered the most favourable solution amongst drivers. It is feared an entirely closed cockpit presents others risks to drivers in terms of post-crash recovery.

A number of drivers have aired their support for such a move, with Jenson Button admitting he has changed his opinion towards the use of closed cockpits in the wake of Wilson's tragic death.