F1 considering closed cockpits

© Ubaid Parkar, 4 September 2012
© AP Photo/Luca Bruno

Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix served as another reminder about the dangers of motorsport after four drivers luckily escaped uninjured in a spectacular shunt on the first corner of the opening lap.

Unfortunate it may be for the championship leader to walk away without adding to his points tally at Spa-Francorchamps, but Fernando Alonso was very fortunate to just walk away from his heavily damaged Ferrari.

A bit of pain was the only companion for the Spaniard, but the proximity of Romain Grosjean's Lotus to Alonso's helmet after the Frenchman's car lauched over the Ferrari could have given him more than a headache.

"It looked scary, didn't it?" McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh told Reuters. "It just reminds us...we become slightly nonchalant. We see so many big enormous shunts and we are just used to the driver hopping out. Fortunately on this occasion he did.

"You realise that they come inches away from not hopping out of the car on those incidents so...fortunate for him and the sport that we got away with a big accident," he pointed out.

The crash has re-opened the addressal of the driver's safety in the cockpit - which peaked during Felipe Massa's accident in Humgary in 2009 and Henry Surtees' death in Formula 2 the same year.

"We are working with the (International Automobile) Federation to try to work on the right system of protection. With what we have tested or are working on there are also some problems that you may have," Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali. "We need to be very careful on all these devices."

But a closed cockpit is not necessarily the safest solution, according to Whitmarsh

"I think people underestimate what a cockpit would have to be and how cockpits can make a situation worse," he said. "You can put this glass bubble over the drivers but you can't assume that they are thereafter safe."

Reuters reckoned a closed cockpit could raise issues such as "impeding sightlines, cars overturning or suffering electrical fires with cockpits filling up with smoke."

 

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