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  1. #1
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    Closed cocpit F1 car good idea or not?

    Looking back at the number of head injuries that has resulted id fatalities or seriously threatened the career of drivers, one my think closed cockpit F1 cars is a looming inevitability. Most recently was the Massa incident where a spring pierced his helmet and into his head. Then there was the death of Bianchi whose head struck a tractor which retrieving another car at the rain socked suzuka track in 2014. We could go further back to Senna's fatal crash at Imola where a piece of the Williams suspension he was driving struck him in the head and result in his death.

    In the open cockpit fomular, the driver's head has been most vulnerable as it is the least protected but exposed part of the driver. And is most delicate part of the driver's anatomy. The helmet worn for head protection is designed to absorb blunt impact but not impact with trajectiles or stationary pointed hard objects. Hence with the death of Bianchi, it if clear that the stakes are still too high for the drivers of F1 cars. Hence the question has been quietly asked if the open cockpit is still a viable proposition. Are the stakes acceptable? Would having a closed cockpit be undesirable and why?

    This link ventures to show what a closed cockpit f1 car might look like
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/19/sp...ntlAudDev&_r=0

    Would closed cockpit change the f1 experience for fans? Personally, l don't think so. I can see how it would change the experience for the driver. The sound of the car would be considerably muffled by the cockpit hood, hence would reduce the information that the driver gets from the sound of the engine. Kind of like getting off riding a motorbike to driving a saloon car. But cockpit hood can be a great asset to aerodynamicists as they would have an opportunity to improve the air flow characteristics with the shape of the cockpit hood.

    So who s likely to not want it, possibly diehard racers who enjoy the risk element of racing. Who may want it, Engineers because of the added benefits of having it and teams genuinely concerned for the safety of their drivers. Not to mention the FIA, in their fight to make the sport safer. What about the fans? What do you think? Is is going to happen or just another PR thing?

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    Senior Member Duncan's Avatar
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    The problem I see is this: we have seen two fatalities and one serious injury in 20 years that <I>might</I> have been prevented if there was a closed cockpit. We have to assume that the cockpit would be strong enough to withstand the impacts in those cases, which I would say is far from certain.

    On the other hand, in that same 20 year period, how many drivers have escaped death or serious injury because they were able to exit the car quickly, and how might that have been compromised if there was a closed cockpit? The particularly scary situation is an upside down car following a crash, especially if the car is on fire.

    Just to be clear, I don't know what the answer is here. I just wanted to say that it's not only a case of looking at what could have been prevented with a closed cockpit...

  3. #3
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    In my opinion, the call whether to use closed cockpits is the drivers' to make.

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    I might be wrong, but from what I understand of Bianchi's crash, his head never contacted the tractor and the diffuse axional injury was the sort caused by a rapid deceleration of the head causing the brain to mush itself inside the skull. Like I said, I might be wrong, but it was the immediate stop, rather than a head strike. But that was something I read shortly after it happened, not seen an official accident report or details of marks on a helmet or something. If that is the case, however, unlikely a canopy would have made any difference
    "I" before "E" except after "C". Weird.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan View Post
    The problem I see is this: we have seen two fatalities and one serious injury in 20 years that <I>might</I> have been prevented if there was a closed cockpit. We have to assume that the cockpit would be strong enough to withstand the impacts in those cases, which I would say is far from certain.

    On the other hand, in that same 20 year period, how many drivers have escaped death or serious injury because they were able to exit the car quickly, and how might that have been compromised if there was a closed cockpit? The particularly scary situation is an upside down car following a crash, especially if the car is on fire.

    Just to be clear, I don't know what the answer is here. I just wanted to say that it's not only a case of looking at what could have been prevented with a closed cockpit...
    It's been established that a closed cockpit would have made no difference to Bianchi's crash as it was the sudden deceleration that contributed the most to his injury.

    I'm personally not in favor of closed cockpits unless a solution can be found in which a driver's is not impeded from swiftly exiting the car in ALL situations. And that word ALL is extremely important because, with the safety standards so high nowadays, we're now at the point where only freak accidents are going to cost drivers lives. Therefore, if closed cockpits are introduced there must not be any situation where a drivers exit from the car is impeded, otherwise you're only removing the possibility of one type of accident and enhance the chance of another.

    We all saw Sainz's crash in Russia FP3. I'd be very concerned actually that a closed cockpit could have actually injured a driver in this kind of situation, especially with some of the solutions which have been brought forward.

    I remember Jenson Button came out and said he felt F1 should introduce closed cockpits after Justin Wilson's crash and I was quite surprised at Jenson's knee-jerk reaction as he is normally quite reserved. All closed cockpits solution unfortunately have drawbacks and, given the unlikelihood of losing a driver in modern day F1 vs the risk of closed cockpits, I'm not convinced that closed cockpits will provide any overall extra safety margin.

  6. Likes: truefan72 (20th October 2015)
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    Senior Member Rollo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan View Post
    The particularly scary situation is an upside down car following a crash, especially if the car is on fire.
    I think that it's absolutely reasonable to think that a sport which spends millions of dollar pounds and has over years come up with such ideas as active suspension, improved turbo charging, the f-duct, traction control, ground effects, the monocoque, extensive use of carbon fibre and other exotic materials and regenerative braking, is too stupid to work out how to deal with technologies surrounding closed cockpits.
    The Old Republic was a stupidly run organisation which deserved to be taken over. All Hail Palpatine!

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    Senior Member Duncan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rollo View Post
    I think that it's absolutely reasonable to think that a sport which spends millions of dollar pounds and has over years come up with such ideas as active suspension, improved turbo charging, the f-duct, traction control, ground effects, the monocoque, extensive use of carbon fibre and other exotic materials and regenerative braking, is too stupid to work out how to deal with technologies surrounding closed cockpits.
    I don't think stupidity is at issue here. What is at issue is whether closed cockpits introduces an additional constraint into the design which necessarily results in impeding driver exit from the car in some cases. As noted further up-thread, we're now in the territory of dealing with freak events that occur once a decade or less.

  9. #8
    Senior Member Rollo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan View Post
    What is at issue is whether closed cockpits introduces an additional constraint into the design which necessarily results in impeding driver exit from the car in some cases.
    And what I've said with my tongue firmly in my cheek is that tech heavy organisations who have found solutions to all sorts of things, should also be able to find a solution to this.

    I can't honestly think of a single instance where a closed cockpit wouldn't have been safer.

    Fires like Verstappen's at Hockenheim in 1994, or Diniz at Buenos Aires in 1996, Berger at Imola in 1989, or even Lauda at Nürburgring in 1976 would have all been safer for the drivers if they'd sealed in a survival cell.

    And as for something like this:

    It would have been far safer for Schumacher to have been in a stress rated cockpit than have his head sheared off by a Force India. Incidents like we saw with Massa being hit by debris or Senna being pierced probably wouldn't have happened either.

    Besides which, if a quick escape is needed, pyrotechnic fasteners (explosive bolts) have been in use in aircraft cockpits since at least before the time of the English Electric Canberra bomber which flew in 1949.
    The Old Republic was a stupidly run organisation which deserved to be taken over. All Hail Palpatine!

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rollo View Post
    I think that it's absolutely reasonable to think that a sport which spends millions of dollar pounds and has over years come up with such ideas as active suspension, improved turbo charging, the f-duct, traction control, ground effects, the monocoque, extensive use of carbon fibre and other exotic materials and regenerative braking, is too stupid to work out how to deal with technologies surrounding closed cockpits.
    I have to echo this comment. The technology for closed cockpit is already in use in fighter jets. In terms of hardness of material to withstand high impact, that already exist in aircraft manufacture. The question of emergency escape has been addressed also in figter jets. And l am not suggesting that driver be launched into the air to avoid an impact. but the cockpit can be ejected by the driver pushing a button on the dashboard of the car and get out of the car in the normal current emergency exit procedures.
    Cockpit do not introduce an impossible challenge, nor does it compromise driver safety at emergency situations. After all we talking about some of the smartest engineer on the planet. It is a simple question of does the drivers mind having it or not.

  11. #10
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    a lot of lemans cars have a closed cockpit, so the solutions are already there.

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