Additional head protection is in Formula 1’s near future, Charlie Whiting told the BBC this weekend.
“There has to be something to try to prevent a wheel hitting a driver’s head,” Whiting told the BBC.
Whiting, the head of F1’s technical department, added that roll-over protection in front of the driver “is the most likely option in my opinion”.
“We must do everything we can to protect the sport and its business model,” he said.
You’ll recall we posted about the testing going on lately in this area. A forward roll-hoop has proven the most effective, although in the case of Felipe Massa’s accident — when such a small part hit him — it likely would only offer partial protection.
OK, you’re thinking. A roll hoop, maybe I can go for that. But anything more — such as the “jet pilot canopies” that also are being tested — goes against the very DNA of F1, which is about open cockpit driving.
Get over yourself, former driver Alexander Wurz says. From the BBC:
“I’ve heard comments of ‘it’s against tradition’. Should we all drive with engines at the front and with leather hats and no seatbelts and parts not in quality control?
“We must do everything we can to protect the sport and its business model.
“You see how (in) our society, corporate social responsibility is moving nowadays, it’s becoming so important. I just simply don’t accept stopping looking into safer solutions just because they break tradition.
“If you are travelling at speed and pushing things to the limit, there will always be a risk, it’s just I am against the categorical phrase ‘It will never happen – my car will never have a roof.’
“That doesn’t mean the canopy or forward roll-hoops which are coming and potentially around the corner needs to happen.
“But we can’t stop the research because you learn so much from focusing on one area, like protecting the driver’s head.
“Maybe we (will) learn something along the way which is a very simple solution.”