Whilst many of the recent proposed changes in Formula One focusing upon on-track performance have proved divisive among some, the unveiling of a new ultra-protective helmet for drivers by the FIA will not fall into that category.
Due to become mandatory in F1 from 2019, the new helmets are to incorporate a wide variety of features to better protect drivers, including increased energy absorption and an extended area of protection for drivers.
The helmets are to be first introduced in F1, but will be rolled out to all other championships thereafter.
Speaking via motorsport.com, FIA safety chief Laurent Mekies hailed the new equipment as a significant step forward for driver safety.
"The current top-end helmets are already the safest in the world, but the new standard will take them to the next level," he said.
"It is important for all of our safety research that we continually strive to improve and this is why we are requiring all manufacturers to meet this tougher standard for our championships."
The new helmets will be manufactured to ensure that they meet more stringent tests than in the past. Helmets are to be tested for the effectiveness in a variety of different environments, including their response to accidents at a variety of speeds and incidents involving differing amounts of weight.
Helmets will also be tested to ensure that they are resistant to crushing and penetration. Per an FIA statement, the top of the visor opening is to be lowered by 10mm to incorporate advanced ballistic protection that "achieves unprecedented levels of safety during impact from debris."
The new safety features announced by the FIA have been developed in consultation with top helmet manufacturers Stilo, Bell Racing, Schuberth and Arai, and represent welcome advancement in driver safety.
For all of the headlines which are generated by F1 owner Liberty Media's attempts to improve the sport as a spectacle, the most crucial research and development each season remains that which ensures the safety and wellbeing of drivers.
Although its safety record has improved in recent years, the very nature of the sport ensures that there will always remain an element of danger. The continued commitment of the FIA to maintaining driver safety is of the absolute utmost importance.
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