Cockpit Canopies under discussion again after Wheldon accident
Innovation
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Oct 2011   |  11:27 am GMT  |  146 comments

The accident which killed British racing driver Dan Whedon yesterday in an Indycar race at Las Vegas has raised a number of safety questions, including the wisdom of running 34 open wheel cars on a tight 1.5 mile oval track such as Las Vegas with an average speed of 220mph.

But it has also revived discussion about the possible use of canopies to make the drivers safer in the cockpit from flying wheels or debris, as happened with Felipe Massa and Henry Surtees.

The FIA Institute has done some work in this area and produced some interesting content in the current edition of its quarterly magazine, IQ. A video of their recent canopy test is posted below. There is no suggestion at this stage that a canopy might have saved Wheldon, but a moment like this always calls for the sport to reflect on safety issues and consider the work that’s already being done.

The work has been carried out by FIA Institute Technical Advisor, Andy Mellor, along with Institute Research Consultants Peter Wright and Hubert Gramlin. Prompted by the F1 Technical Working Group, which comprises senior engineers from F1 teams as well as FIA technical people, they’ve been looking into the possible benefits – and drawbacks – of adding some form of additional protection to the open-cockpit area of F1 cars.

According to IQ, “The aim was simple: to fire a Formula One wheel and tyre, together weighing 20kg, at 225km/h into, first, a polycarbonate windshield and, second, a jet fighter canopy made from aerospace-spec polycarbonate, and measure what happens (all close-up observations being recorded by strategically positioned high-speed film cameras).”

The canopy was the same as used on an F-16 fighter jet. The FIA Institute team wanted to see how it would cope with an F1 wheel and tyre.

The answer was that whereas the windshield shattered, the F-16 canopy deflected the object away from the cockpit where the driver would be seated, says Mellor, “It was possible to see that the windshield did manage to deflect the wheel over the space that would be occupied by the driver’s helmet, but in so doing it sustained significant damage.

“The canopy, however, deflected the wheel assembly suffering no permanent deformation. And viewing the canopy impact in slow motion shows it flexing to absorb impact energy, before ‘launching’ the wheel and tyre away. ”

The results are currently with the F1 Technical Working Group. It is is the first stage of the process. According to IQ, any debate on implementation would have to take account of a number of known drawbacks, such as: Visibility, Optical quality, Ventilation, Cleaning, Access and Emergency exit of the driver.

Wheldon’s accident is being investigated now. On board cameras show his car being launched over the back of another, rotating to the side and then going into the wall and fencing.

FIA Institute Jet Canopy Test from FIA Institute on Vimeo.

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1

I think the set-up they put in so it can be MORE OF A SPECTACLE makes it very, very dangerous on circuits like this. Some others [circuits] aren’t as bad.

2

I can not believe that there are still people out there who are against a fully enclosed cockpit! Look at all of the people who have been injured or who are dead because there was not a canopy over the cockpit. In F1 and Indy car. I think that there have been more of this type of problem in F1 than Indy. Hell F1 teams could afford to put blow off bolts on the cars so that the canopy could fly off like it does in a fighter jet.

And to those who think that fire is a problem. Look at most of the fire deaths in F1 or any racing body. Most have 2 things in common:

1. Driver incapacitated being one and not being able to extract himself

2. Ill prepared fire crews. Either not trained, not enough of them on site, not enough fire fighting equipment, or (and this is the biggest problem of all) not having proper personal protection equipment. I mean I can go online and buy $1500 – $2500 USD worth of personal protective equipment that would keep me safe fully engulfed in a fuel fire for 1 minute. Now I’m sure its not easy to work in and save someone in that environment, but 2 guys in that much gear could do alot for a driver then. If not extract him then at least beat back the flames so other safety people could work the extraction. So the whole fire issue could be defunct if they would put trained people who are geared up at the tracks. Not to mention the fire suppression systems that are available out there now. They have systems that use foam dispersal that could fill the inside of a NASCAR full. These types of systems could coat the whole cockpit in a matter of seconds.

3

I was thinking of a half windshield that is 6 inches above the drivers helmets reinforced with a full 1 1/2″ roll bar roll bar around the back of the windshield. It would also have tear away’s layered windshield protecters that could be changed at pit stop.If the windshield is damaged it would be easily replaced as nose change on F1 car.

Three things would come with windshield on F1 cars protect the driver from flying debris, Improve driver safety when a when a wheel rolls over driver cockpit from the top in accident, Improve aerodynamic air flow over the car.

Terry

4

Firstly, let me say that we need to seperate our viewpoints here from spectacle, competition, sport and activity.

Racing car/motorcycle drivers/riders, are like climbers, free-runners, base jumpers, and in context of this article, pilots; and are generally driven by exhilaration and a little risk. It is the activity of racing that spurs them on and gives them the basic rush or high, and regardless of any other factor, people will continue to want to engage in their chosen activity despite of, and in some cases, because of, the risks. It was not too many years ago when a competitor was killed in a Downhill event at Scotland as part of the UCI Downhill World Championships (Mountain Biking) and people are killed whilst diving, white water rafting, etc. all of the time. These events are personal tragedies for the families involved but rarely contribute to the overall cry for improvement to a discipline/activity as we see here. It is the nature of competition; competing to see who can be the best (This then leads to sport where we spectate competition and formalise competition) which is of interest, as the nature of the competitive beast means we will continually try to better ourselves and equipment until we are on the ragged edge of what is possible under a given set of conditions. In these conditions we will have what are; avoidable deaths. Deaths which are caused by pushing too near to the limit of what is possible. In sport, which is formalised, governance then requires we adjust the parameters so that these deaths are prevented in the future, but unfortunately, the spectacle demands continued improvement. Better results, faster times, closer contact, etc. This is why we keep records and statistics and why the sport/spectacle generates an audience, alongside an interest in the actual activity. Unfortunately, this trade off is always going to occur and death in sport is always going to happen regardless of what is done, but I for one have full confidence in the FIA as far as safety goes. It has done a tremendous job, kudos to max I think, and will continue to do so and I am sure they will evaluate this proposal on it’s merits and against all of the opinions from those engaged in motor sport activities in all areas, through to the commercial rights holders, the viewers and choose the best approach for safety against the aforementioned factors.

Finally I would just like to offer my thoughts to Dans family and friends. It is my hope that in light of this tragedy, his love of driving and his commitment to the series acts as a spur for Indy to improve this aspect of their formula.

5

I dont agree with canopies, but do agree some additional protection for the drivers head is required.

This could either be an additonal pop up roll bar that fires when the car achieves an unnatural angle. This would pop up with titanium netting in front of the driver preventing anything larger than gravel hitting his helment.

However, this does not answer the problem of wheels or small metal debris.

Wheels should be prevented from leaving a car through tethers that work mostly, but not 100% of the time.

The other way is impact sensors, that will trigger the pop up roll bar.

A pop up will leave the cockpit uncovered with the exception of unnatural angles or impact. Therefore the general aero will remain the same. This could be fired manually if the driver applies emergency braking. or by pressing a button if time. IE if a driver can see the crash occuring but does not have room to avoid the accident. He can press his a red button on his sterring wheel that deploys the impact absorbance system with titanium netting. The netting could cover the entire cockpit if required.

Just my thoughts.

PS too many cars on the oval track, that was the problem and the promoters and officals are responsible for Dans death. It was a predictable risk which should have been managed.

6

I imagine over the off season you will see some key people will no longer be with the IRL. Randy Bernard will stay, Terry Angstadt will stay, but without a doubt Brian Barnhart will be replaced, and perhaps Tony Cotman. IRL doesn’t have a Mosely or an Ecclestone who have a sort of self aquired plenar authority, so there is no one short of the Hulman family who own the IRL to make any sweeping changes. The other thing to keep in mind is that Indy Car is a very close knit community, the drivers are keen to see it succeed and so to most it is far more than a business.

Short tracks for Indy cars should be a tragedy that never gets repeated. Yes, the promoters and race operators must ultimately answer for what happend. Yet the drivers share a part too, though they all complained about the race track and the lack of practice, none of them were willing to sit this one out. It was the ultimate race of the season, the championship was going to be decided, as well as the last race for one of Indy Car’s favorite drivers (Patrick) no one refused to race either. Compare that with the 2005 USGP where most of the field refused to race unless changes were made. I think the Las Vegas race is a wake up call for the drivers to stand their ground from now on and insist upon what is right for them, and who knows, maybe start a drivers association as F-1 has.

7

As Rubens Barichello often says ‘there are no accidents, these things happen for a reason.’ The tragedy last Sunday didn’t occur because of one mistake on the track, or because of a couple of missteps. As is often the case these sorts of horrible incidents are the result of numerous problems that are systemic. The troubles with the IRL go back at least a decade when they had a split and then ended up competing for a very small slice of the pie with CART/Champ Car. When they merged Indy car racing was down to a handful of teams, most of which were subsidized in some way by Tony George via the Hulman family fortune. Often the field of competitors was rather small, which pushed the IRL to accept drivers who were under funded, and under qualified. They’ve struggled to find sponsorship, venues and TV airtime. This has led to running in venues that are far from ideal for the Dallara Indy Car-meaning the so called ‘short tracks’ that are an integral part of the Nascar schedule. Nascar has recognized the danger of excessive speed on a short track and has limited the engines in the cars with restrictor plates. Indy car has no such limits. NASCAR has also understood that vehicles can still become airborne and so there are catch fences to protect the spectators. These are suitable for restraining a stock car but not an open wheel, open cockpit car.

At this point I would say the first steps for the IRL are first, procedural, and then technological. The IRL must consider what a safe venue is and they must also insist upon better credentials for drivers than what they have now; they must also restrict the field of cars. Then comes restricting the performance of cars for certain venues if it is necessary and looking at other possibilities such as canopies. The barriers that are standard fare on all oval tracks came through IRL, and they can innovate again if they’re honest with themselves.

I think that canopies for open wheel cars is a worthy technology to pursue, it has worked for boat racing and if developed properly could bring a considerable measure of additional safety.

8

I’m not a scientist, but is the idea of using this cockpit canopy material instead of debris fences any use? Surely it would stop cars from being so destroyed whilst enabling the spectators to see.

9

Neither am I but… A transparent material strong enough would be far too expensive.

Debris proof glass would work for the second fence to protect the crowd. Like what F1 uses on the pit wall.

10

Formula 1 boat racing uses Canopys and they still have driver deaths from accidents. I remember some drivers even being hospitalised after part failures inside the engine caused chemicals to leak into the canopy overcoming the drivers during races in the past.

In the early days of the Adelaide V8 Supercar Saloon race in australia there was a occurance where drivers were being exposed to unhealthy levels of chemicals exhaust fumes etc from engines falling to bits and badly ventilated cars. This was only a specific problem to the Adelaide track. being an enclosed street circuit. I’ve seen similar things happen in the WRC and the Dakar rally where on one occasion the cabin filled with smoke that prevented the driver from seeing inside his own cockpit.

The more i think about the idea of canopys the less i like about it.

If you really want to save lives. You could just have drivers control the car using remote controls from the back of the garage.

PS: James Allen I love your blog, i’ve been reading it for 3 years now but i’ve never commented before today.

Excellent articles and discussions. Keep it up.

Regards Matt

11

Thank you

12

I think I may be a bit of a purist, because If you follow the link, the car that is pictured, looks great as a race car, but as an F1 car, I wouldn’t like it….

http://www.iacoski.com/fx-i1_closed_cockpit_concept/

13
Prisoner Monkeys

I think people are getting a little bit too carried away with this. Wheldon died forty-eight hours ago, and the accident investigation is still underway. How can we reasonably say “this solution will work” without even knowing the cause of the accident in the first place? It’s a bit like saying the answer to a question is four, because the first half of the question is two plus something. While driver safety is imperative, it’s an exercise in wastefulness if we simply rush in solutions that don’t necessarily address the problem. In the case of Indycar, there’s almost six months until the next race – there is no hurry to apply extra safety precautions. Formula 1, on the other hand, does not race on ovals, so there is less risk of an accident of the same magnitude as the one in Las Vegas.

14

Dear James,

It will be always extremelly sad to hear about the death of a driver in a race, we don`t know yet if a canopy could be the best solution, but at least shows that the FIA is working on improving safetyness, which is not what the promoters of indy are showing to be doing, due the rate of deaths that have ocurred during the last ten years, it`s not a competition about who is safer is about provide the fans, the drivers, the teams and organizers a safety plattform were to put a solid show, there will be always a great risk involved, but 34 cars at 220 mph in an oval? that`s in one word crazy, and if one they go around 300 mph for sure many drivers will sign for it because it`s in their souls but there`s got to be alot of safety placed first. The problem wasn`t only about the crashing and the flipping it was three cars in flames, which shows a lack of safety on impacts to the fuel tank or how explosive is the fuel used in the series. Once again, Drivers know the dangers of racing, but also they expect their cars and circuits to be at a level were safety comes first. We have seem terrible accidents in F1 after Senna`s death, Luciano Burti in Japan, Schumacher flying and landing over other car at germany, webber`s “flying” at Valencia, Kubica`s huge crash on Canada and some others, but the cars and the circuits have been redesigned and worked with safetyness at paramount. The last dead person in F1 if i`m not mistaken was the marshall at 2000 Monza Grand Prix due a tire goint out of Trulli`s Jordan.

15

“Dario Franchitti, who was in the race with Wheldon, said “I could see within five laps people were starting to do crazy stuff. I love hard racing but that to me is not really what it’s about. One small mistake from somebody..”

The 5 million dollars prize money made drivers wild IMHO.

PLEASE! no more such temptations.

16

I understand where most folk are coming from regarding the safety aspect of the canopies, yes there would be plenty of benefits but it just doesn’t sit right with me. Folk have suggested “quick release catches” so drivers get out quickly. What if the car ends up on its roof? I’ve seen drivers in the past crawling out unaided thanks to the roll-bar creating a void between the car and ground. How would a driver be able to escape the same situation unaided with a canopy in his way? What happened with Dan is very sad but I hope the fia don’t have a knee jerk reaction and take time to consider the options. Let’s not forget that this happened in INDYCAR which races on some tracks that safety wise could only be compared to “pre 94” f1 tracks with cars that aren’t as safe a f1 cars, so in that comparison you have to take your hat off to fia for keeping safety at the forefront.

17

My feelings are with his family, even i can’t remember to have seen him racing (indy not really covered in german TV).

This thread brought back memories from a time i was a young boy and did gravety car racing (in german Seifenkiste , as in my nick = soap box) and got a trophy from Stefan Bellof who was living nearby.

There was a german sport TV-show in 1985 short befor the Nurburgring race: I think at least 3 of the invited racers died short after the show:

Elio D’Angelis, Stefan Bellof, Manfred Winkelhock …

I think that had more impact on me than the death of Senna which happen later and i already knowing how dangerous this sport is, half of interviewed people dying in half a year or so.

For interested readers: parts of the show with english translations:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ5bXpwFQ_Y

Elio playing piano at the same show:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkUQC028wOo

In 1985 i asked my dad why they died,and his answer as a firefighter was more or less: stuff happens, you can’t predict everything.

Today,studied maths and physics and being a volunteer firefighter:
In more than 200 accidents i was called, there were situations were savety belts, airbags added to injuries.

Same as with Kubica, where a classic 200 year old wall from bricks would have been less harmful than a modern steel barrage. But statistics say that this modern savety tools will do more good than bad in the long run.

But when doing all this discussions, never forget what is most important at races: it is not the savety of drivers but the one of visitors.

So saying move them inside the oval, or use savety glas and no wire mesh, …

Emergency access at a mass panic inside an oval is not possible, savety glas are plates and not produces big enough to prevent impacts at connection points, …

Plane canopy to deflect and not absorb is same. I have to review the video, but i think the wheel is not rotaing when it was fired. A rotating wheel, deflecting might jump up as high as 40 metres. Just remember the damm buster bombs from WW2.

So this post is for all drivers who died way too young…

18

To prevent wheel-to-wheel contact, the FIA could introduce a rule that any wheel-to-wheel contact will result in both drivers receiving a drive-through penalty.

Drivers are already very careful when it comes to avoiding wheel-to-wheel contact — it’s easy to forget how much of the safety in F1 is due to the drivers’ common sense. But penalizing it would provide an additional incentive.

19

In rain, if the temp inside the cabin (i suppose it will be called cabin rather cockpit ;)) is warm, then what about the fog build up?? It should have a cooling mechanism to address this.

If a canopy cracks up, how fast can it be changed at the pits

The canopy can help deflect off the tyre and wheel.. what if another car comes straight at.. pretty much what happened to Schumacher 2010 Abu Dhabi from Liuzzi of FI..

Or, are we all discussing something which is fundamentally flawed … Safety and Risk.

I mean just look at Moto-GP, do they also need such a thing.

F1 is far more safe than Moto-GP considering the exposure of the driver.

If a canopy has to be introduced, I mean they can as well introduce parachute braking, ejection seats etc. or make the car go slower.

If safety in F1 has some road relevance, then limit the speed to 155mph.

20

I feel so terrible for having posted something on Moto-GP… damn…

21

I have read quite a number of posts here with regards to concerns on having a canopy when an accident happens and the driver cannot get out quickly.

I’d like to make several points for discussions:

1. Some manufacturers like Audi in Le Mans already went from open to closed top, AND have suffered an accident where the chassis remained rigid like a rock and no harm done to the driver.

2. Following the point above, the driver obviously needed some help from marshals etc to get out of the car during that incident, but he came out fine. Would he have ended up far worse had it been open top? I’d think not.

3. Like someone mentioned earlier, a pilot requires to look all round including above his head, whereas a driver looks left right and centre only, so the construction would most definitely be different to one used on a jet fighter. There is less (not saying none!) concern with regards to the top part of the canopy.

4. Someone said they prefer open top for the sake of entertainment. I’d like to question: Would anyone here including the OP find it entertaining to see more copies of the Ayrton Senna or Dan here dying from accidents? I think this is a rather sick comment from the OP.

5. If it’s proven to work in Le Mans, why suddenly worry about it in F1?

6. True on the concern of dirt and visibility. For visibility, I’d imagine there are dark and light colour canopies like ones you see from drivers’ helmet visors. Dark for sunny days, light for cloudy/rainy days for more visibility. As for dirt, that’s one issue the FIA has to look at. Windscreen wipers isn’t exactly a new invetion. Automatic removal of layers of tear-offs would be an idea. Things can be looked into and invented.

Thoughts?

22

Personally, I think that canopies create as many problems as they resolve. I just cannot see how they can easily get around the issues of fire, visibility, medical extraction, etc etc without changing the whole definition of “open wheelers”.

I think the underlying issue is doing something to decrease the changes of cars ramping off the back of other cars and getting airborne as this is likely to be the most dangerous crash-type. This will sound odd/ugly but best answer for that is for “crash bars” behind both rear-tyres so that the fronts of the following car cannot touch the rear wheels of the preceding car ?

23

Absolute tragedy.

However we must avoid knee-jerk reactions. I would have to say that by and large open cockpit racing is as safe as it can get. To provide further safety, canopies cannot be the answer. I don’t know what the answer is. But turning them into road going fighter jets surely can’t be it.

The obvious drawbacks have already been mentioned. Extracting drivers is the main concern. Some have answered with the exploding bolts ala SLS. Problem with that is I cannot imagine having pieces on a racecar that are designed to explode. It seems counter intuitive to safety as race cars are dangerous enough as it is. To say “its ok, the driver won’t be trapped because the canopy has an explosive component” doesn’t seem like common sense approach when you consider the amount of racing events that happen year round compared to the amount of fatalities.

I think the biggest factor has to be the ovals. It’s the nature of those tracks which allow for the 200mph+ speeds due to the oval aero packages and the lack of braking zones sufficient enough to slow the cars down. Let NASCAR stick to the ovals. Open cockpit racecars are not suited to speedways.

On another note, the drivers before the race were expressing concern about the speeds reached in practice, but tellingly, not concerned enough to stop them from competing. These guys are racing drivers, it’s what they do, it’s what they love. Yes we can argue it’s not worth dying over (no job is) and lament the destruction of families left behind but I can guarantee before long, it’ll be back to business as usual. We collectively have short memories. Every single motor racing event that has gone before or will happen in the future is dangerous. It’s strange that we only act like it’s dangerous when accidents happen. It’s dangerous all the time and accidents can and will happen occasionally. As I alluded to before, jobs aren’t worth dying for. The unique situation racing drivers are in is they are combining a job with a passion. And we will do crazy things when driven by passion.

When Lewis and Mark were tangling in Korea for example, that was dangerous too. That’s part of why they do it. And partly why we find it so exhilarating to watch.

Trying to invent racecars one can’t be killed in is like the governing body of professional swimming trying to invent water that you can’t drown in. A noble cause no doubt but it’s a completely unattainable goal.

The safest form of motorsport is no motorsport at all. And that isn’t the answer either.

RIP Dan

24

I watched the entire broadcast live, and the drivers themselves pointed out the root cause of the problem. In the first half of the two hour red flag period, before anyone knew how Dan was, many of them gave their impressions. It’s not the cars, canopied or not; the cause was the unusual situation.

I believe it was Franchitti said it most succinctly, “There’s no way for the drivers to differentiate themselves”, meaning they were on a track where they ran flat all the way around all the time. Other drivers said largely the same. The whole (extra large) pack was locked together nose-to-tail, side-by-side at 220mph, and it didn’t take an actual mistake to set off an accident, just regular car movement that eventually brought two together. They probably shouldn’t have raced those cars on that track, and that was implied by some if not actually said outright (I don’t remember).

The accident does expose the catch fence as an area for improvement; it does have a ‘shredding’ capability if a car hits it the wrong way and slides along rather than bounces off.

Otherwise, the cars are not at fault, the drivers are not at fault…the mistake was bringing the cars to a track where they couldn’t *race*, couldn’t get away from each other through driver skill.

And that won’t happen again. Painful, horrible lesson learned.

The five laps they ran in Dan’s honor, especially in context after the two hour wait and the increasingly desperate hoping and praying that he’d be alright, was the most gut-wrenching, sad, and beautiful thing I ever expect to see. It was just the right thing to do…a fitting salute.

25

Canopies wont happen. Its the expected knee jerk reaction just so they can say at least someone is looking at it. In reality, nothing will happen. You only have to go back to Massa’s accident to realise that any change will be minimal. Everyone was talking about canopies after Felipe got hit and what happened? They strengthened the helmet design. See what i mean? The minimum. Its whats always happens in these circumstances unfortunately, the knee jerk extreme reaction followed by the eventual solution chosen to cause minimum inconvienience.

26

I recently watched a documentary entitled ‘Formula 1, the killer years’. It details the early years of Formula 1, where deaths in the sport were just accepted as a fact of life.

The safety levels changed when racers like Jackie Stewart started to push for greater safety, even going as far as refusing to race at venues they considered to be unsafe. As a direct consequence of their actions, Formula 1 races on safer tracks, with safer cars.

Since that tragic weekend in 1994 when we lost Senna and Ratzenberger, Formula 1 has suffered two fatalities. They were both marshalls, Paolo Ghislimberti at the 2000 Italian GP, and Graham Beveridge at the Australian GP the following year.

Paolo’s death resulted in the addition of wheel tethers to the cars, though they tragically failed in the case of Jacques Villeneuve’s BAR which resulted in Graham’s death.

By comparison, despite having a full-time body of professional marshalls which travel to every race (something F1 would do well to copy, IMHO), Indy car has remained very dangerous. Indy car has seen fourteen fatalities since 1994 (seven drivers and seven non-drivers).

The Las Vegas race featured more cars than are allowed to run at the much larger Indianapolis speedway, and many of the drivers have commented after the race that the flat-out nature of the track resulted in pack racing with very little to differentiate between the drivers. This set up the circumstances for the fatal pile-up. The walls and fences which lined the track sealed Dan’s fate.

I don’t know whether a cockpit canopy would have saved Dan’s life, but the main problem is the nature of the tracks. The impact protection levels of a modern Indy car are comparable to those of an F1 car, but drivers are dying far more frequently in IndyCar.

In F1, a loss of control usually results in a trip into the kitty litter, or on to a tarmac run-off area. With the exception of a few first corner incidents, most involve one or two cars at most.

In many Indycar races, a loss of control results in impact with several other vehicles, a potential launch into the air as open wheels touch, and impact with a solid wall or catch fencing. There are no run-off areas, and the cars are often tightly bunched together. The banked super-speedways are part of American culture, but they are the main problem here, not the crash protection features of the car.

You can only do so much with the car – it makes more sense to remove the source of the problem. Transfer away from the super-speedways, add more road courses, and enforce the track-level safety features that are common in modern F1 tracks. I don’t know if there is an IndyCar equivalent of the GPDA, but if there is, they need to start wielding their power, as it’s unacceptable to keep killing people for something that is, when all’s said and done, entertainment.

27

Is it too heartless to suggest that race fans and drivers alike should accept that motor racing is inherently dangerous and forget about these “improvements” to safety?

The drivers must accept that by strapping themselves into the car and pushing the limits, there is a big element of danger of dying or being maimed. After all, they get a payoff for doing that, whether that is fame, glory, money, or just a thrill.

Sorry, I don’t want to see my drivers cotton-wooled in complete “safety”. There HAS to be an element of risk and danger in motorsports. That is a big part of the spectacle, heroic men and women pushing the limits.

For those who are a little more timid (like myself), they can always elect to NOT drive a race car in the first place, and get themselves a desk job …

Oh, and btw, the canopy looks stupid.

28

‘Oh, and btw, the canopy looks stupid.’

I was thinking, what if a driver gets cooked in there should the lever jams when car catches fire, you cant rule that out.

29

I wouldn’t rule out canopies for F1. The safety of the driver should always come first so if it means canopies, so be it.

Why not increase the strength of the wheel tethers and introduce a sort of ‘roll cage’ that is in a sort of x shape over the driver’s head. As long as it’s big enough so a driver can get in and out of the car quickly of course.

30

Sorry if some people may not like this, but it’s just my point of you. I know how many people (specially north americans) love to watch races in oval tracks. I have never liked races in this type of track and have used to watch IndyCar races just when they take place in street or other permanent circuits. Never found amusing to watch races in oval tracks. And just yesterday’s incident made me remember how dangerous they have always been with cars reaching such massive speeds and no run-off areas at all. I don’t understand what they were thinking when they built this type of track. If a driver makes a little mistake and goes off, it is logical he immediately will crash into a wall at such massive speed or even if someone touches the wall will bounce back into the track and put in danger other drivers. Formula One venues never take place in oval tracks and Senna’s death in 1994 marked a new era in safety with no other casualties after then, but oval tracks in other racing categories still keep claiming lives in spite of today’s advances in safety. I think, and it’s just my opinion, that the best safety precaution to be taken should be not to race in oval tracks as they will always be extremely dangerous unless very, very huge run-off areas are built with a lot of gravel that can slow down the vehicle before touching any wall. In North America, there are some very amazing tracks such as Road America, Watkin Glens, Road Atlanta, Laguna Seca, but I really condemn racing in oval tracks.

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