Coulthard: ‘Something needs to be done’ about open cockpits

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I know we all aren’t huge fans of David Coulthard around these parts (howdy, Grace!), but I think he’s got a piece up at the Telegraph that’s well worth reading.

It focuses on what is rightly the big Formula 1 issue of the day. No, not whether Romain Grosjean should be out of the race at Monza, but whether the accident he was involved in — during which his car narrowly missed Fernando Alonso’s noggin — makes the argument for adding some sort of protecting covering to F1.

Todd had an earlier piece up on the issue. Plenty of you have commented.

Here’s the key part of DC’s piece:

Sunday’s incident has brought the debate over ‘closed cockpits’ back into focus. I will leave it to the experts to decide what is the best solution but clearly something needs to be done.

I’m not sure I agree with the introduction of canopies. Not only do they pose all sorts of secondary risks such as how to evacuate the driver quickly in the event of an emergency, it would change the formula entirely. Formula One is the pinnacle of open-cockpit racing and in my view should remain so. But there are alternatives; protective bars or cages, for instance.

OK, so hear me out for a second. I am guessing your reaction: DC just abdicated any position. Yes. But in saying that “something needs to be done” I’d argue he pushes that decision-making a significant way down the … what’s a good metaphor here? Back stretch? Pit lane? You get the idea.

DC, with his connections to Red Bull (and his great friendship with Michael Schumacher) can act as a proxy for drivers here. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t giving us a view of where the drivers are on this issue. They are reluctant to make changes, altering a certain DNA to the sport (plus the legitimate concern about getting a driver out of a car) but they’ve seen enough tragic accidents and near misses during the past few years.

The open cockpit is the current “final frontier” for safety. In the past, when so many other aspects to the sport were of more immediate danger, perhaps the open cockpit wasn’t such an issue (or, at least, the “get the guy out” argument was pretty crucial). Now, it’s the obvious point that has to be addressed.

My guess is, with the drivers’ support, it will be.


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