FIA president urges caution over closed cockpits

©N. Carpentiers and FIA

FIA president Jean Todt says any attempt to introduce closed cockpits into Formula One and other single-seaters categories must be carried out very carefully and within the realm of feasibility.

The sport’s governing body has renewed and increased its efforts to enhance driver head protection in the wake of Jules Bianchi and Justin Wilson’s deaths last summer.

The Frenchman perished from the severe head injuries he had sustained when hitting a recovery vehicle at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, while the Briton was killed in an IndyCar race after he was struck by debris from another car.

FIA safety director Laurent Mekies is currently investigating a number of concepts ranging from fighter plane-style canopies to Mercedes’ proposed oval-shaped ‘halo’ supported by a vertical strut around the driver’s head.

“Firstly, we don't want to deter the speciality of each category of motorsport,” Todt said. “On the other side, we must make sure that we do any attempt which is feasible to optimise safety.

“So we need to get behind the engineers and be very careful to see what would be the proposal. I must say we have been working very strongly in improving road safety and safety is part of our daily responsibility.”

The FIA has been working on closed cockpits since at least 2009 when John Surtees’ son Henry died at the age of 18 when he was hit by a loose wheel during a Formula Two race at Brands Hatch.

That same summer, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa narrowly escaped death after being struck by a spring flying off Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn in Hungary.

The FIA already said it was worried that canopies would randomly deflect flying debris, while also limiting access to the driver in case of accident.

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