Formula 1

FIA to test driver safety ideas in September

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Formula One's governing body the FIA will test two different concepts designed at improving driver safety and revolutionising the sport.

The debate surrounding protected cockpits has gathered pace following the tragic death of Justin Wilson on Monday night.

The British racing driver, 37, succumbed to injuries he sustained after he was hit by flying debris from a separate crash during an IndyCar race in Pennsylvania.


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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.

Race director Charlie Whiting has said a solution must be found and claimed two ideas will be trialled in September.

"I can definitely see the day when this will happen," said Whiting in reference to the controversial concept of protected cockpits in open-wheel racing.

"One day there will be something that will decrease a driver's risk of injury."

Speaking to AUTOSPORT, Whiting said: "We have two solutions on the table, with the first something from Mercedes.

"It doesn't cover the driver, you can still take the driver out, which is one of the most important things. It's a hoop above the drivers head and forward of it, but with one central stay.

"We are also looking at another device which is blades of varying heights which will be set on top of the chassis and in front of the driver at angles which will render them nearly invisible to him."

Felipe Massa was left fighting for his life after he was hit in the crash helmet by a spring from another car during qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.

And while the Williams driver went on to make a full recovery, he says protected cockpits must be considered to improve the safety of the sport.

"I think it's something that needs to be considered if it's better for everybody and it doesn't change the aspect of Formula One," he said. "Maybe not closing the cockpit but doing something to improve the safety on that area - I'm not against it."

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