New side impact system to be used in Formula 1 from 2014
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Kubica XPB
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Jul 2013   |  11:45 am GMT  |  12 comments

Formula 1 drivers will have greater protection when in the cockpit after the FIA Institute announced a new side impact system which will be introduced next year. And JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan has given us his views.

After a year-long collaboration between four teams – McLaren, Mercedes, Marussia and Red Bull – and the FIA Institute, cars will feature a system designed to improve safety in angled impacts.

At the moment, crushable tube structures are attached to the side of the chassis to protect drivers from a side impact, but they can break off during oblique accidents, such as the one suffered by Robert Kubica in the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix.

“I was in the meetings when it was all discussed in the Technical Working Group,” said JA on F1 technical adviser and former Williams chief engineer Mark Gillan. “Andy Mellor, who is the FIA Institute’s research consultant, has done a very good job at listening to the teams and putting the FIA’s own ideas forward to come up with a solution.”

The new system is an evolution of the old one but uses carbon fibre structures fitted to each side of the car which do not shatter, instead progressively crushing down.

“When you had an oblique impact, sometime the structure would sheer off and we’re obviously very keen that that doesn’t happen,” added Gillan. “The structure needs to be very efficient in checking in and absorbing the impact. The video [below] shows that very clearly.

http://vimeo.com/68370832

“A lot of work has gone into it because you have to make sure the change doesn’t negatively impact another part of the car. A lot of work has gone into it.”

During testing, structures were able to absorb nearly 40kJ of energy in both normal and oblique impact directions. The new system is likely to save teams money on crash tests because it will be integrated into the chassis and won’t require a separate impact test.

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12 Comments
  1. Chris says:

    Anything that improves safety gets my vote!

  2. richard piers says:

    Really excellent.
    One regrettable corollary to the brilliant improvements in vehicle and circuit safety appears to be the sometimes substantial deterioration in driving standards. Motor racing is still inherently dangerous and wagging fingers doesn’t seem to be doing a lot of good.
    Some sort of endorsement now needs to be looked at to improve this aspect of safety.

    1. Mark V says:

      Well as Kimi suggested, there’s always a good old-fashioned punch to the face to get the point of dangerous consequences across to some of the more stubborn cases. ;)

      1. tank says:

        Wish he’d followed through on that one!

        I remember Schumacher on Coulthard in Spa the one year… almost happened.

  3. Dai Dactic says:

    Safety improvements are always welcome –

    Just hope some of the more ‘erratic’ drivers don’t take it as a sign of improved ‘invincibility’ and race accordingly.

  4. Richard says:

    Always good to improve safety.

  5. Mike says:

    Impressive stuff. Lets hope this kind of research eventually makes its way into road cars. Especially now high performance road cars are now using carbon fibre monocoque structures.

  6. Quade says:

    I’ve looked high and low for a pic of this thing for about a week now, but there doesn’t seem to be any.

    1. Random 79 says:

      It was hiding in the middle, right were no-one would ever think to look ;)

      http://www.autoviva.com/news/formula_1_cars_will_use_new_side_crash_structure_i/10383

      Not hi-res or anything, but kind of does the job.

  7. Nic Maennling says:

    It is comforting to know that in depth research like this is going on behind the scenes. Thank James you for pointing this out.

  8. Rich C says:

    Now can the left be used on the right?
    If they run it backwards do they gain performance?

    Just so we know who’s to blame ahead of time y’know.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Someone had to say it…

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