Could the days of open cockpits be partially over?

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Additional driver safety measures could be on their way, highlighted by a forward roll hoop to protect against the type of accidents that injured Felipe Massa and claimed Henry Surtees’ life.

Autosport is reporting on this, taking the news from a recent IQ magazine.

The tests have involved shooting a 20 kilogram wheel at 225 km/hr at a Lotus-built titanium hoop.  The results have been promising — more so than other safety prototypes with polycarbonate windshields or full fighter plane-type covering.

Autosport reports that Andy Mellor, the FIA Institute’s technical advisor, told IQ magazine: “The roll hoop basically did a very good job. It was able to keep a wheel away from a driver’s head. We tested it both by firing the wheel down the centre of the car, and also coming at it from an angle.”

The roll hoop also deflated the tire on impact, which is seen as an added benefit — it would keep the tire from bouncing and flying as far after the initial impact with the car.

“The impact deflated the tyre during both tests,” Mellor said. “We tend to think that’s a good thing – it means that the wheel doesn’t bounce as much. It stops much more quickly if you can deflate the tyre.”

All this is still very much at the testing stage, but if the FIA Institute thinks it shows real promise, it could suggest the addition to the FIA Technical Working Group.

If you check out the photo at Autosport (or the video), the roll hoop looks pretty innocuous– certainly nothing like the stepped-nose cars of this season — but I realize that mucking about with the looks of Formula 1 cars is serious business.

But is it a reasonable trade off?


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