Formula 1

Daniel Ricciardo: Time for canopies in Formula One

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Daniel Ricciardo insists it is time for Formula One to abandon tradition by introducing closed cockpits in a bid to prevent any further fatalities.

The controversial concept is firmly back on the agenda after British racing driver Justin Wilson was killed last month.

Wilson, whose funeral takes place in Northamptonshire on Thursday, was hit on the head by a piece of flying debris in an IndyCar race in Pennsylvania last month.

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His death, announced a little over 24 hours after the accident, came only 37 days after Jules Bianchi, the French racer tipped to become a world champion, lost his life following the devastating head injuries he sustained at the Japanese Grand Prix in October.

Jenson Button, who raced alongside Wilson in the junior ranks of motorsport as well as in Formula One, has led the calls for canopies to be introduced to single-seater racing. And Red Bull driver Ricciardo also believes the time has come for change to be made.

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"It is something I want to definitely go for - for me it is the last piece of the puzzle," said Ricciardo.

"The helmets have come on a long way, but unfortunately, we have still seen some tragic accidents and you get to a point where you don't care about tradition any more.

"I don't care if the statistics say there have only been a few (deaths) in the last 20 years. Statistics cannot predict what is going to happen in the future so now we need to ignore tradition and go for safety.

"As a current driver and seeing these things happen around you in Formula One and IndyCar it hits home a lot more and you just don't care how the past has been with tradition. It is silly not to look into options now for sure."

Closed cockpits have been trialled previously, but with mixed success. A jet-fighter canopy was tested, but, although it proved successful in deflecting debris, other fears were raised - notably that a driver may be restricted from disembarking his cockpit at speed, and the debris could pose a threat to spectators.

The FIA, Formula One's governing body, is to trial two further concepts at a test later this month. 

But Alex Wurz, president to the Grand Prix Drivers' Association believes canopies, despite their high expense, remain the best solution.

He said: "The closed cockpit has been evaluated for quite a few years by the research body of the FIA and part of this research group has made extraordinary gains in some areas, but you need to consider the negatives before you make any changes.

"Another complication on the jet-fighter canopy is the costs, which may be no problem for F1, but for all the junior series, it is an enormous complication. It makes no sense if the FIA says you must have a closed cockpit but half of motorsport goes bankrupt because it is very expensive.

"Personally I am a fan of the canopy and I think it will be the future. It will just be about how quickly it can arrive."

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Formula 1

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