Coulthard mulls cockpit covers

David Coulthard, Sepang, 2007Following the F1Fanatic debate after the Australian Grand Prix it was interesting to hear David Coulthard’s remarks in today’s Malaysian grand Prix press conference.

The ex-GPDA representative and staunch safety advocate publicly raised the possibility of cockpit covers on F1 cars, and other solutions to the problems of debris intruding into the cockpit:

I think it highlighted just how at risk the driver can be in that kind of situation. I would never imagine I would come across the top of the cockpit missing him by a very small amount??????

So, inevitably, that is an area that will be talked about and looked at for the future for safety. It is part of Formula One to have open cockpits and obviously in the last decade we have had the head impacts panel thing, or whatever you call it, developed and that has improved safety a good deal but I think we can continue to work in that area.

He later added:

I think that [cockpit covers] goes against the basic rules and regulations for a Formula One car, as an open top, but my recommendation would be that any discussion with the Technical Working Group is brought forward because inevitably in these situations it is when it is brought home how easy it would be to have a serious incident, then it moves it up the importance list.

When I spoke to Patrick Head after the event, he suggested it was a couple of years away before they might look at doing something, but maybe now it could be possible to have an improved cockpit protection for next season already, so that is something to be discussed and agreed and we, as the GPDA, can only encourage them to do that and see what the result is.

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6 comments on Coulthard mulls cockpit covers

  1. An opportunity to bring back the grotesqueness of X-wings!

    I still think all that is necessary is to make certain the shapes of the cars naturally tend to deflect them away from the driver… I even wonder if a sort of anti-roll cage around the driver will suffice?

    Of course, the top surface will be used to create more aerodynamic downforce, blah, woof…

  2. Journeyer said on 6th April 2007, 1:29

    Hmmm… Well, how appropriate DC started the debate. How nice of him to show us how dangerous his incident was, no? :)

    But seriously, I think increasing the height of the side protection on the cockpit, and/or covering the top of the steering area, would be OK. Anyway, we can still see the driver steering input from the onboards.

    The downside there is although it increases safety, we practically won’t be able to see the drivers from the car’s side views.

  3. Journeyer said on 6th April 2007, 1:41

    Oh, in addition, remove that edge of the underbody which goes beyond the actual car. I mean, DC’s car ITSELF was around 10-15cms away. But that edge that goes beyond the car cut it much closer.

  4. Nathan Jones said on 6th April 2007, 8:50

    if u cover the drivers head then how is he to get out if he has a serious crash and there is a fire?
    with an action there is a reaction, one freak accident and suddenly we need to change the rules?
    sadly motor sport is dangerous and will always have an element of danger to it!
    sad but true, i agree safely is aparamount but if u change one thing then another risk opens up and 5 yrs down the rd there wil be an accident and a driver can’t get out of his car etc and then this debate re-opens on how they can rectify that!

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th April 2007, 23:13

    I’m not surprised it’s become such a talking point. Safety is king today and though it’s always been taken for granted that Formula One (indeed, all single-seater racing) is open cockpit, it may not last forever.

  6. I watched the Aussie grand prix and wasn’t it action packed. It was great to see the big guns thrashing it out and their tactics were unreal.

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