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Featured F1: Button Pushing for Closed Cockpits

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Chris, Sep 4, 2015.

  1. Chris

    Ted Kravitz Appreciation Society Staff Premium

    Formula One veteran Jenson Button has revealed that he has changed his mind over the debate surrounding Formula One adopting closed cockpits.

    After somewhat of a recent spike in head injury-induced fatalities in motorsports including the more publicised deaths of former Marussia driver Jules Bianchi and Indy Car driver Justin Wilson, the FIA are now under serious pressure from the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA) to make substantial progress towards implementing closed-cockpits for Formula One as soon as possible.

    Speaking to reporters ahead of this weekends Italian Grand Prix, Button said, "This shouldn’t happen now in motor sport. It’s not the ‘70s, we should know better. I was one of many who said we should keep open cockpit racing but we’ve had enough now, it’s time to do something serious about it, not just change things like the headrests."


    The current cockpits have had a vast amount of research and experimentation put into them in terms of driver safety with raised head rests and such, but obviously there are still safety deficiencies that have been exposed over the years. However there are several complexities to designing a canopy or cockpit protection system, for example, a jet fighter-styled canopy would prove to be the most aerodynamically effective method, and would probably look the most aesthetically pleasing, but it could cause problems with cockpit temperatures as it will essentially act like a greenhouse, and will compromise the ability of the driver to exit the vehicle quickly in case of a fire or if another hazard presents itself.

    More recently, the Mercedes F1 team released a mock-up design of a potential solution with a halo-like structure that could help protect the driver from flying debris, or more significant obstacles like removal vehicles. However issues of driver visibility do come into question when the attachment point is directly obstructing the drivers' line of sight along the sagittal plane. There's also the issue of teams using this device for aerodynamic purposes and potentially compromising the effectiveness its' safety properties.


    The open cockpit philosophy is something that is synonymous with Formula One, and given the incredible forces involved in the accident that Jules Bianchi tragically suffered, it is questionable as to whether or not a closed cockpit would have saved him. However driver safety is paramount, and if closed cockpits are something that could have prevented the deaths of Bianchi and Wilson, then it's unquestionably something worth doing, however it needs to be done the right way.

    Do you think Formula One should invest in closed cockpits?
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2015
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  2. ThatRacingGuy

    I drove 88 MPH last night... weird stuff happened Premium

    NO NO NO NO NO and again NOO

    Justin Wilson Accident was a one out of million chance

    And this "Structure" wouldn't have saved MR Bianchi anyway

    I may sound a bit harsh here but i'm just not a fan of these weird "cockpits"
    • Agree Agree x 11
  3. Chris

    Ted Kravitz Appreciation Society Staff Premium

    Well then, we've had 2 one in a million accidents in less than 1 year. If Indy car had closed cockpits, Justin Wilson would still be around today.
    • Agree Agree x 16
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  4. There is no way to anticipate every sort of danger that a driver in F1 can get himshelf
    into nor protect them under all circumstances. The fact of the matter is that these are
    racing at insane speeds and under extreme forces. What they are actually doing is
    put themshelves in danger, F1 is an extreme sport. In extreme sports one's life is
    in danger and despite all of the efforts made to improve safety, it is simply impossible
    to create a magic bubble to protect the driver from everything. These guys should, and, know
    that, they chose this line of business and its risks.
    In my opinion, closed cockpits is not the answer.
    • Agree Agree x 7
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  5. This shouldn’t happen now in motor sport. It’s not the ‘70s, we should know better. AGREE that(out of topic)but why they dont build temporary tracks on airfield where is lot of tarmac....?this days all the tracks have safety zones with tarmac so you can cut and sometimes its ignoret by who ever decide. like hamiltons pole on spa...four wheels out of white line...no no no i say..grass or sand is the way to go on safe zones.
  6. Nox

    Staff Premium

    I highly doubt anyone watches F1 because the drivers heads are sticking out (and if you'd stop watching if they went to closed cockpits, you aren't watching now for the racing...), so sure, fix the problem and make it safer. This is 2015 for goodness sake, not 1970. Nearly all the comments I see where people don't want improved safety are either living in the past, have little value for life or make irrelevant points like "well, motor sport is dangerous, the drivers know that" - yeah, so what? That means they shouldn't strive to make it safer? You can never make it 100% safe, but every little helps. You could drive your car 10,000 times and never have an accident, but I bet you put your seatbelt on every single time for safety reasons. We know for a fact that drivers have died or been seriously injured from head injuries directly related to their heads being exposed in open cockpit racing for years and years - they aren't 'freak' accidents when they repeat, it is a symptom of a safety issue that needs addressing. Finding a solution to the problem is the responsible thing to do.
    • Agree Agree x 24
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  7. I still think people will die while Racing. Is a bit of a nonsense discussion.

    Make no mistake. Im all for measures that improves safety for race car drivers.
    I dont care about estetic stuff. In fact I quite like the projects, the cars looks good to me with a closed cockpit.
    Having said that...

    Once you are out of control for whatever reasons going to a wall, armco, other car... or a car is coming right at you after lose control...going at speeds above 200 km/h...sometimes more than 300 km/h...any driver of the world at this point is in unknow territory, and death is pretty much there to happen.
    If the cockpit is indeed closed, in the future. Speed is a deadly thing, and Im pretty sure that sooner or later, a driver will die exatcly because of the closed cockpit. Directly or indirectly.

    As Andrew said, this should not stop the search for more safety...but...the only way to not die while racing is just not race.

    I wonder what the world should be doing to improve the safety of Motorcicle racers...this year we already lost something like 6 or 7 riders, 2 of them died in the same accident in a race at Laguna Seca, and nobody is discussing "close" the bikes or whatever....
    I mean...:rolleyes:
    • Agree Agree x 4
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  8. Yapci


    And don't forget Massa incident few years ago which nearly kill him.

    Closed cockpits sounds like a new challenge and that's good for me.
    • Agree Agree x 5
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  9. Martin Maaskant

    Martin Maaskant

    From an emotional point of view I say no but when I let my reason speak I say yes. I think Andrew hit the nail on the head. The motorsport community can't accept fatality's like those of Wilson and Bianchi. Something has to be done and if a closed cockpit is the answer then that is the way forward.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. Andrew Harper

    Andrew Harper

    I agree with @Nox , yes my heart says it's an open cockpit formula but my head says that something needs to be done. Hopefully not as a knee jerk reaction, if it's something that has to be implemented for 2017 for example then so be it but let's make sure it's done properly.

    I like the closed cockpit idea. For example I love the closed cockpit look of the Red Bull fictional f1 car in the gran turismo games. I'm not a big fan of hoops, and structures around the driver they look too much like an add on. I did wonder if a halfway solution could be achieved.

    So still a cockpit bubble but just make it cover the first third of the cockpit opening rather than the whole cockpit area.

    There's also one more benefit to a closed cockpit, if they do bring back refuelling the added safety of having the driver covered would be good. Because we could have a fire or spilt fuel at some point.
  11. Some folks will always hate change because they view it as a deviation from the 'norm'.
    That said; Open-cockpit motorsport around the world have identified a problem.
    It has cost two high-profile lives in recent years...John Surtees and Justin Wilson (it probably would not have saved Jules Bianchi).
    There is a potential for a fix.
    Let them fix it with a nicely implemented, streamlined canopy.
    You'll still see the 'action' through the on-board cameras...much as you do now.
    Everybody wins with that one and the drivers are better protected.
    Look at Indy car and it's implementation of rear covered wheels to keep cars from being 'launched' when they intertwined.
    It didn't make the racing any less exciting...and those who watched before are still watching today.
    Sometimes change is good....and needed to establish a new normal.
    • Agree Agree x 2
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  12. DrKruntz


    ...the question is not about the fate and percentages relating to fatal accidents...
    Action is needed so that such incidents do not happen again, and the fairing for the open cars it is now a necessity that can no longer be postponed!
    The FIA must act now!
  13. I think F1 is more about being open wheeler than open cockpit.

    That being said I would not yet lock down the canopy as the best option. We need more research to find the best solution.

    Clearly canopy is a great solution but it also creates lots of other problems that need solving. Cockpit heat is one issue, visibility (not just in the rain, rubber debris sticking to the surface is a problem too) is another and fast extraction is third. One thing it does to really well is protecting the driver from all kinds of impacts to the head. All the way from big objects like tires to small objects like parts of wings and rocks.

    But similarly the other options should be considered as well. The mercedes style halo structure or the earlier reversed roll hoop in front of the driver would be easier to incorporate into the car and would stop big parts and other cars hitting the driver's head. And it would not cause issues in the rain, no need for cooling the cockpit. How those things look aesthetically is a different thing though.

    I think a solution is definitely needed. We have had too many close calls and we have lost too many drivers already. Having these kind of safety structures would have not saved maria del villota, jules bianchi or john surtees but they would have definitely prevented massa's injuries and wilson's death.

    The thing is every accident can be seen as one of a million kind of thing. We still put softer walls into places where we think a car may end up. We have noses in f1 which can shatter controllably when they collide with rigid object even when we have built the tracks in such way that hitting nose ahead with concrete wall is practically impossible. We have cockpits that can survive huge g-forces, the tires are connected to the car with cables to prevent them coming loose. With all those safety structures we still have situations where a car hits the concrete wall and the driver is left uncoscious (alonso).

    The way I see it we need to have more protection for the driver's head. It just needs to happen. How? I don't know. I know it is more than just having a feeling that something needs to be done. We know what needs to be done. It is the technical details that need solving.
  14. MoerasGrizzly


    • Winner Winner x 3
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  15. Well I have mixed feelings in the matter. I truly do not want the sport to be sanitised any further. Believe it or not but the risk of accident and even serious injury is a draw to many people that watch. The same goes for MOTO GP, TT racing and every other style of motorcycle racing. They are in a far more dangerous position every single time they get on their race bike, but thank god we still resist the namby pambyism that tries to ban the likes of real road racing just because another 2 or 3 die in the latest race at the TT or similar.
    If the do gooders and health and safety nannies get to change every sport because its dangerous to the point of sillyness, we as humans will try and find something else to risk ourt lives doing. And that is what it always should be, a risk.
    So I don't agree with some of you at all.
    Shall we ban free climbing? Shall we ban free fall parachuting? Shall we make tight rope walkers use ropes 10 feet thick for safety's sake? How about adding another two wheels to motorbikes, that'l make em safer. Nah leave it as it is, F1 is still safer now than crossing a busy london street in my opinion.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2015
    • Agree Agree x 2
  16. Lotus had them first just ask 007! god damn that would be hilarious. Vettel is have a fit on the radio - oh noes there he goes! He still insist it was the tires that made him eject! maybe a new kind of drs?

    On a positive note it is amazing to see someone take a position and then rethink the issue and come out and admit that things have changed at least for him. Instead of taking the infallibility route.
  17. Flammenjc

    Nitor Velox Gaming Premium

    It's entirely possible that a closed cockpit can pose different [and potentially more severe] cons though, that's what needs to be weighed up. I wouldn't want to see a car buried under a barrier or another car on fire and there's no way for the driver to get out.
  18. Bram

    Ezekiel 25:17 Staff Premium

    button pushing.gif
    I am button pushing for closed cockpits as well, but nothing happens :(
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    • Haha Haha x 2
  19. In such situation the closed cockpit would be a positive thing. Look at kovalainen's accident in spain some years ago. He could not get out either but his head also made contact with the tire barrier which then landed on top of him. He would have been better of with closed cockpit. Same thing for François Cevert whose car went under guardrail. His car sure was stuck in the guardrail but his head was already smashed in with the initial collision.

    You list these weird examples without stopping to think that the closed cockpit would have saved the drivers when in fact the only benefit of the open cockpit is that open cockpits only make it easier to get the dead bodies out...

    I don't think you really thought your example through.
  20. Bram

    Ezekiel 25:17 Staff Premium

    Would it be technically possible to create a fire-proof cocoon where the driver can sit in? With such a system in combination with a closed cockpit the driver should at least be safe for a few minutes in case he gets stuck.