Better cockpit protection expected for 2014

F1 Fanatic round-up

In the round-up: McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe says improved cockpit protection is “inevitable” for F1 cars.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

New head safety planned for 2014 (BBC)

“After the race in Belgium, Lowe said he thought changes could be made in time for 2014. ‘We started the project a year ago,’ he said. ‘We’ll see. Personally, I think something is inevitable because it is the one big exposure we’ve got.'”

Romain Grosjean sorry for causing huge crash in Belgian Grand Prix (The Guardian)

“I accept my mistake. I misjudged the gap with Lewis. I thought I was in front of him. It was a small mistake, but a big incident. I’m very sorry, and I’m just glad nobody is hurt. That’s the main thing.”

Hamilton tweet ‘an error of judgement’ (Autosport)

“One rival team boss told Autosport that it had been ‘gold dust’ for his engineers in understanding the performance of the MP4-27.”

Schumacher still a true fighter, says Vettel (Reuters)

“It doesn’t matter where you get Michael on the circuit, whether you’re fighting for first place or 15th, he will fight like hell which is great to see. He hasn’t lost it. It obviously makes it hard for you but it’s always a great challenge. It’s very close with him but always fair.”

Paying the penalty (Sky)

Mark Hughes: “Pastor’s accidents really do seem to be triggered by ‘red mist’ – in high stress situations, he seems unable to control his emotions. His incident with Grosjean in Australia can be written off as just two hard racers being uncompromising with each other. But banging wheels with Sergio Perez in Monaco practice this year or with Hamilton at Spa last year, barging back onto the track and into an accident with Hamilton at Valencia this year: these are all red mist incidents. It means that when he makes a genuinely innocent misjudgement, like his blocking of Nico Hulkenberg in qualifying on Saturday, he is penalised.”

Spa, Stewards, Standards and Safety… (The Buxton Blog)

“The only answer, as far as I see it, is to start parking drivers. Just as they have with Grosjean. You want to make a racing driver think about his actions? You want to hit him where it hurts? Don?t make his wallet lighter. Don?t make him start a few places back down the grid. Just show him how it feels to sit at home and watch a race in which he should be taking part.”


Comment of the day

Some great additions to the Belgian Grand Prix Stats and Facts from @Andae23:

No German driver started the race from the top nine. This is the first time this has happened since the 2003 Japanese GP: in that race, Heidfeld started from only 11th. Frentzen, Michael and Ralf Schumacher started from 12th, 14th and 19th respectively.

This was Raikkonen?s sixth podium of the year without a win. That means that if he doesn?t pick up a win this year, he will have the most podiums in one season without a win since himself in the 2006 season. In 2006, he scored six podium, but didn?t win a single race that year. The record for most podiums without a win in one season is Button in the 2004 season and Barrichello in the 2001 season (ten podiums).

Pastor Maldonado hasn?t scored any points in the seven Grands Prix following his victory in Spain. This is the longest drought for a race winner since Giancarlo Fisichella in 2003. Following his race win in Brazil, he didn?t score a point in the next eleven Grands Prix.

From the archive

The huge crash at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix evoked memories of some of the other huge first lap shunts seen in F1 before. Here’s ten of the biggest:

From the forum

Happy birthday!

No F1 Fanatic birthdays today.

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Jack Brabham scored his third and final world championship victory on this day in 1966.

He became the first and, so far, only driver to win the championship in his own car, driving a Brabham-Repco BT19. He retired just seven laps into the race but when championship rival John Surtees dropped out 24 laps later, Brabham’s title was assured.

Here’s some footage from the weekend, though little of the race, which saw Ludovico Scarfiotti score a dream win at home for Ferrari:

Image ?? Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo

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117 comments on Better cockpit protection expected for 2014

  1. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 4th September 2012, 0:10

    They need windshields and wipers for 2014.

  2. Mike (@mike) said on 4th September 2012, 0:28

    I expect the first corner crash to be a catalyst for better head protection. Aesthetically, this is surely going to take time to get used to. However, it’s been a stinking point in F1’s otherwise great safety measures for quite a while I think…..

    • schooner (@schooner) said on 4th September 2012, 0:59

      @mike I began typing up a long winded opinion, but you phrased my exact thoughts much more succinctly! It will be very interesting to see what the designers and engineers come up with that doesn’t inhibit driver visibility and/or emergency bail outs. I expect that we’ll be seeing cars that will definitely take some getting used to come 2014.

      • Calum (@calum) said on 4th September 2012, 1:07

        With regards to ‘better cockpit protection’ – it’s been in planning in testing for some time now, so I don’t think it’s a knee jerk reaction to the Spa crash, and the FIA have set the safety standard for the helmets, HANS, and safety cell at a very high level, we have to assume they will set a similar standard for any changes they make to cockpit protection, and trust they will mandate the most best solution. I’m sure the aesthetics will take lots of getting used to, and may well upset many fans, but the complaints that the FIA would receive asking why the cockpit safety was not improved sooner (if somebody died) would be much worse than the complaints they would receive about ugly cars.

    • In terms of head protection, Jack Brabham’s solution looks like a very elegant one:

      I think I’d get used to something like that quickly.

      • apeman (@apeman) said on 4th September 2012, 14:21

        Thanks for posting that, I didn’t know he used one! Something like that could be a good compromise, as long as it’s designed with enough open space for the driver to get out/be removed easily. Visibility could be less restricted than with pillars. I’m sure it’s possible.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 4th September 2012, 7:12

      Air Conditioning specialists will be on demand if they opt for closed cockpits in 2014, in case of AC failure, it will be a major problem for the driver.


      • I reckon something like Newey’s GT5 concept would look awesome. I think this would not be the case if everyone was still trying to use raised noses in 2014 but if I remember correctly the FIA will be regulating to drop the nose height? If so the closed cockpits should look ok. I always liked the look of the Caparo T1 with a closed cockpit, and back in 2000 Gordon Murray drew his idea for a no-rule F1 car in Motorsport magazine which featured, amongst other things, a gas turbine engine, closed cockpit and wheel covers – very similar to Newey’s first version of his X2010… and that looked great as well.

        I reckon they’ll look fine. Could they be any uglier than the 2012 cars???

  3. Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 4th September 2012, 0:29

    The batak machine is pretty tough. I’d love to buy one for my room and have a go every morning. Surely the score on that image for Alonso reads 50 hits in 21.9 seconds. This guy seems to be doing quite well then:

    great machine to have.

  4. Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 4th September 2012, 0:41

    “I accept my mistake. I misjudged the gap with Lewis. I thought I was in front of him. It was a small mistake, but a big incident. I’m very sorry, and I’m just glad nobody is hurt. That’s the main thing.”

    He still doesn’t get it. A small, mistake.. If i press the nuclear warhead launcher button for being careless.. oops its only a small mistake. If I pull the gun trigger,.. Sorry it was a small mistake, I thought there was no one in front of me…. waaaaahhh…

    • HxCas (@hxcas) said on 4th September 2012, 1:20

      So would you rather he was like Maldonado and refuse to admit he’d done anything wrong?
      The fact that he apologized and accepted the penalty reflects very well on him – he knows he messed up.
      And honestly, it was only a small mistake. He isn’t the first driver to cut across another car and clip it, only this time the consequences were unfortunately very large. Hopefully this will calm him a little in future first laps so this scenario isn’t repeated again.

      • JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III said on 4th September 2012, 17:46

        He apologised only after he was banned and i imagine after receiving a damn stern talking to from the stewards about how what ever his story was it wasn’t washing. During the race he was sitting on the lotus pit wall watching the accident from every cars onboard and then told lee he hadn’t seen it, that’s not in anyways shape or form noble infact i’d say it’s entirely ignoble.

    • Julian (@julian) said on 4th September 2012, 1:25

      I think he gets it. It was a small mistake (a stupid one as well) and it had big consequences like he said.
      At least he’s admitted it was his fault and apologised for it, unlike a certain driver whose made similar mistakes and never taken the responsibility for it.

    • xeroxpt (@) said on 4th September 2012, 4:04

      @maksutov you’re right it sounds exactly like that.

    • dirgegirl (@dirgegirl) said on 4th September 2012, 8:40

      On the contrary, the fact that he says “a small mistake, but a big incident” surely suggests that he *does* get it.

      • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 4th September 2012, 10:41

        .. surely suggests that he *does* get it.

        …..That remains to be seen.

        • Was seen, as he acknowledged the seriousness of the crash by using the word “big”.

          I’ll let him know that next time he should provide the reporter asking a question with an essay to explain his response fully, as to please @maksutov.

          In the end, in a chaotic start, it was a relativity minor error. Not only have we seen drivers do that before, but we have seen them do it on purpose.

    • chaostheory said on 4th September 2012, 12:41

      He definitely gets it, didnt you see his face on TV, in the pits, right after he got back to the pits?
      He knows, he knew right away it was his fault, its not a problem, the problem is his reflexes, his thinking while behind a wheel. But still, Maldonado is more dangerous.

  5. matt90 (@matt90) said on 4th September 2012, 0:45

    I suppose they could realistically raise the head protection to the same level as the top of the helmet.

    • Julian (@julian) said on 4th September 2012, 1:34

      I’m assuming you mean raise the height of the bodywork around the drivers head so it is higher then their helmet? I think that could definitely work. They would need to change the mirror placement and a few other things as they would lose some of their periferal vision but it does seem feasible. And it would be more aesthetically pleasing than the other solutions.
      Only downside I can see is that it won’t help with a front on impact.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 4th September 2012, 2:03

        They wouldn’t necessarily lose a lot of peripheral vision- that depends where it rises from. And I’m not sure the mirrors would be a problem either. After all, the sides are already raised a fair amount, and the mirrors as they are now look around rather than over them, don’t they?

        • Julian (@julian) said on 4th September 2012, 4:32

          Hmm your probably right. In my head I’m picturing it like a “u” with their head at the bottom and the sides around 10cm in front of their helmet for extra protection.

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 4th September 2012, 12:38

            I was thinking about it only being high for half of the helmet- from the edge of the visor back. It would still leave lots of the head exposed, but anything short of a cockpit will do the same.

      • JCost (@jcost) said on 4th September 2012, 9:27

        People get use to new looks easier than they think. Does anyone still feels bothered by ugly noses?

    • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 4th September 2012, 10:46

      I think I get it now, but when I first read:

      raise the head protection to the same level as the top of the helmet

      my first though was “How the hell would they be able to see if the cockpit was up to the top of the helmet?!”

      I realise now you didn’t mean the whole helmet. LOL.

  6. Alex Brown (@splittimes) said on 4th September 2012, 1:14

    Watching the first lap crashes, there are so many caused by drivers being caught out by early braking of others or out-braking themselves. Would it be possible to run practice starts from drivers’ grid positions, prior to the race? Car leaves pits, does sighting lap, does practice start and another lap, then pulls up on a dummy grid further round the track, leaving the start/finish straight free. This dummy grid could be single lane affair, allowing cars on sighting laps to pass on the side of the track.

    It would take a lot of time and would impact on the overall race weekend, and the prospect of cars passing the dummy grid could be off-putting. But it could save a lot of risk in first lap accidents. Taking this up in other formulae would drag things out even more though. Just an idea.

    • ScuderiaVincero (@scuderiavincero) said on 4th September 2012, 2:40

      Or we could resort to something slightly easier: move the start-finish straight somewhere else. And by somehwere else, I mean somewhere the cars can space out, before a slow corner comes along.

      I imagine it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle for Spa, considering they have two :)

  7. Kanil (@kanil) said on 4th September 2012, 1:16

    Funny that Coulthard very nearly takes Wurz’s hands off — never mind his head — but largely nothing comes of it.

    Now something similar but many magnitudes less frightening happens to Alonso and within a day there’s articles about how the cars will probably be made safer.


  8. TED BELL said on 4th September 2012, 2:29

    Perhaps a version of the Tumbler would solve this cockpit issue

  9. Shrieker (@shrieker) said on 4th September 2012, 2:55

    I think increasing the cocpit sidewalls by another 1.5-2 cm and bringing them forward by the same amount would be a good start for now. It’s not a huge change and could be slipped into the regulations for 2013.

    • vjanik said on 4th September 2012, 9:50

      yes and eventually, after several years of this, we’ll end up with a closed cockpit anyway.

      • JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III said on 4th September 2012, 18:06

        This is exactly why any sort of roll bar structure is not good enough because things will slip past drivers will die or be injured. Then people will say looks like we need another bar here and another one here untill they realise actually the only way to make it safe is to entirely enclose it.

  10. IceBlue (@iceblue) said on 4th September 2012, 3:06

    There’s no reason F1 cars couldn’t have nerf bars between the front and rear wheels like NASCAR modifieds. That would’ve prevented the Grosjean-Hamilton accident.

  11. Sauber pioneered the higher surrounds. Of course they had their own sad impetus. This kind of leadership is what can drive a changein safety. Who will step up now? Also I recall a lot of moaning about how this ruined the aesthetics of the cars. Now a car without them-older cars-look shockingly unsafe. Its important to remember how we even got that marginal step-a string of fatalities and shocking near misses. We don’t need another safety-martyr, just improved safety.

  12. Maverick232 said on 4th September 2012, 3:07

    I hate all this talk of better head protection. I think we should just leave the cars as they are. F1 is dangerous, we all know it. But to reduce that danger will surely take the shine off the sport we love.

    To see an F1 car go full throttle through eau rouge, the maggots and becketts curves or through the Monaco streets is utterly jaw dropping to see. Why is this? Partly it’s the sound, but mostly its because of the risk of danger why we marvel at these drivers with terrific skill and balls of steel!

    Don’t get me wrong, I never want to see anyone get hurt.
    I just feel that if you make F1 too safe then it would lose its appeal.
    Maybe, there needs to be more attention paid to respectful driving and improving the ability of drivers than to making modern f1 cars look like glammed-up Citroen C4s.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 4th September 2012, 9:30

      I got your point.

      • vjanik said on 4th September 2012, 10:00

        People were saying this in the fifties and sixties also. “why do we need seat-belts and fireproof overalls? wouldn’t that take away from the excitement and danger? why should we have runoff areas and cut down trees close to the track? After all, drivers know the risks when they race in F1. They accept it and we should admire them for their bravery.”

        Many people died because of those arguments. And people like Jackie Stewart were branded cowards for trying to change it.

        I think F1 shouldn’t hold on to a concept just for the sake of it. We shouldn’t insist on open wheel and open cockpit racing for the sake of nostalgia and because “that’s what defines F1″. F1 is about pushing the limits. Going ever faster. A closed cockpit and closed wheel arches (as pointed out by an earlier article by Kieth) would actually be more efficient and faster. why not allow teams to pursue that, and save some lives in the process. Its a win win.

        • last time i checked, there hasnt been a death in F1 since 1994. Stop living in what-ifs, thats fantasy land. The fact is that living is dangerous. Nothing is “safe” especially grand prix racing. Lets just put them in bubble wrap and let the run the track, maybe that will be safe enough for you.

  13. Harvs (@harvs) said on 4th September 2012, 3:22

    thinking bout the protection of the cockpit, how would a windshield protect against a flying car like we just saw last weekend?

    • JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III said on 4th September 2012, 18:02

      650 kg which is the weight of an f1 car +driver is nothing in engineering terms i am positive that an enclosed cockpit could easily be made to withstand that. As far as i understand it that’s always been considered the safer option with the only question mark being how to get out quickly especially if the car is upside down.

      • You obviously dont understand force, which is Mass TIMES Acceleration. Acceleration is Velocity SQUARED. Which means velocity times velocity. Mass isnt the determining factor on how much some shit is going to hurt when it hits you, how fast its going is. In case you havent noticed, F1 cars go fast.

  14. Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 4th September 2012, 4:33

    What about something like a diagonal roll-bar that comes from behind the driver’s head and curves above their sight-line? that way there’s no obscured vision and they’re made safer from cars actually hitting their head. Or a combination of that and a roll bar in front of them that is wide enough that it doesn’t obscure much directly in front of the driver? Basically the’d be in something like an exposed roll-cage box put around the cockpit. This way it avoids the problems inherent in a closed cockpit by making it possible to squeeze through the openings in case they need to escape quickly, but still are still protected.

  15. Eggry (@eggry) said on 4th September 2012, 4:33

    Good to see Alonso is very fine

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