With the death of former British F1 driver Justin Wilson, who was killed at an Indy Car event last Sunday, Formula One is again thinking of introducing a closed cockpit. F1’s Race Director and Safety Delegate, Charlie Whiting, has said introducing such a measure is only a matter of time. Whiting believes that “there must be a way”.
Justin Wilson was struck on the helmet by debris from another car that had crashed in front of him. The tip of the nose cone debris bounced off the circuit and impacted into Wilson’s path as he drove passed the crashed car at speed.
Wilson was immediately incapacitated and his car veered of sharply to the left hitting a wall before coming to a stop. Wilson was airlift to a nearby Hospital and placed in a coma but died on Monday as a result of his injuries.
The death of Wilson, who drove for Andretti Motorsport, has again put into spotlight the dangers of open-cockpit racing. The FIA did explore the idea of a closed canopy, similar to a fighter jet, but equal concerns were given that drivers could become trapped if a crash were occur.
Whiting said in a recent interview, “We have put in a huge amount of time, effort and research into this project, which has not been easy, in fact bloody hard,”
Wilson’s death comes not long after Jules Bianchi died nearly a year after being struck in the head by a recovery vehicle after he slid off track during a rain affected Japanese Grand Prix. Felipe Massa suffered a head injury at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix but survived.
F1 test driver, Maria de Villota, died a year after she crashed while testing for Marussia in 2012. Villota suffered serious head injuries but life saving surgery meant she survived before succumbing to an unexpected neurological relapse.
“We have to persevere. We must make something, even if it’s not 100 per cent in terms of protecting the driver under all circumstances. But if it improves the situation it has to be good. There must be a way.” Said Whiting.
“But I can definitely see the day when this will happen. One day there will be something that will decrease a driver’s risk of injury. Whether it will be as good at protecting a driver from an object coming towards him as a fighter jet cockpit, I doubt that, but it will offer him protection.” Continued whiting.