Three closed cockpit F1 designs to be tested next month
The FIA is now evaluating three solutions for closed cockpit designs in Formula 1, it revealed on Saturday, with the latest tests due to take place next month.
Motor racing's governing body has been looking at various solutions to help improve drivers' head protection, with calls for action having increased in the wake of Justin Wilson's fatal IndyCar accident at Pocono in August.
One of the key considerations has been to find a way of protecting drivers without it having a negative impact on visibility or extraction by safety personnel – which were factors in the FIA believing a fighter-jet style canopy is not the right solution.
An idea of a forward-rollhoop structure also posed similar problems, with a GP2 test at Magny-Cours conducted by Davide Valsecchi reported to be 'not pleasing'.
New concepts to be trialled
Now the FIA has settled on three possible ideas – a smaller version of the forward-rollhoop design, the halo concept that has been worked on by Mercedes, and a new centreline roll hoop idea, which features three long strips of material that run from the front of the cockpit to the rollhoop.
The FIA's safety director Laurent Mekies said: “We are trying to find concepts that can do the job – and we will find a way that can deal with the other matters [of visibility and extraction]. We are scanning quite a broad range of solutions.”
2017 introduction possible
With testing of the closed cockpit ideas ongoing, Mekies said that introduction of any design change in F1 would be unlikely before 2017 at the earliest.
“We are at the research stage, and we cannot make anything before 2017 – it is not doable,” he said. “But probably something in 2017 could be reintroduced if we get good results.
“If we don't get good results and we need a better solution then there will be a delay.”
GPDA backs stance
With the FIA having made a presentation of its plans to the GPDA meeting on Friday, its chairman Alex Wurz said all drivers were behind it – including those like Nico Hulkenberg who previously had been sceptical.
“I am not disclosing which drivers want what, but in the case of Nico he changed his mind after yesterday's meeting,” said Wurz.
“100 per cent of drivers are of the same opinion, and have the same feeling and the same direction that we have to stick with the research and we have to accept it will take time.
“The solutions must be safer, and move F1 forward. We don't want to introduce anything which is more negative or jeopardising.”
He added: “We have seen solutions that are not pretty, but first we need to work on the function and then we can work on the style.”
High-speed camera for 2016
The FIA also revealed that it has begun track testing at F1 races of the new high-speed cameras that will be mandatory next year for improving accident research into how the driver's helmet moves in the cockpit environment during a crash.
Daniil Kvyat and Fernando Alonso tested prototype devices, fitted in front of their cockpits looking backwards at their helmets, during Friday practice in Austin.
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