Formula One faces calls for cockpit change

Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:48am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

SOCHI Russia (Reuters) - Formula One is facing fresh calls to consider closed cockpits after French driver Jules Bianchi's accident in Japan last weekend, though opinions are mixed about the potential benefits.

Cockpit covers were tested by the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) after Brazilian Felipe Massa suffered severe head injuries when he was hit by a bouncing spring in Hungary in 2009.

In 2012, tests were carried out using a forward roll hoop -- a metal structure placed right in front of the driver -- after other experiments with a jet fighter-style canopy and windshields.

None were developed beyond the testing stage, but drivers and teams suggested at the Russian Grand Prix they could be revisited after Bianchi suffered a severe brain trauma when his Marussia crashed into a recovery tractor at Suzuka.

The Frenchman remains 'critical but stable' in hospital.

"I probably tend to agree to at least check and try or test the idea," Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, a good friend of Bianchi, said of the closed cockpit idea.

"I think we are in 2014, we have the technology, we have aeroplanes, we have had many other examples that they use in a successful way so why not think about it?

"All the biggest accidents in motor sport over the last couple of years have been head injuries so it’s probably one part where we are not at the top of safety," added the Spanish double world champion.   Continued...

The car of Marussia Formula One driver Jules Bianchi of France is pictured in the garage during the first free practice session of the  Russian F1 Grand Prix in the Sochi Autodrom circuit October 10,2014. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh