FIA FIA Tests Jet Canopies for F1

sushifiesta

Champion Elect
Contributor
I just stumbled across this article and video on the BBC Newsbeat site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/14199629

The video shows tests carried out by the FIA in which an F1 tyre is fired into two sorts of canopy at 140mph. The "polycarbonate windshield" takes some damage but manages to deflect the tyre, whilst the F-16 fighter jet canopy manages to deflect the tyre with no apparent damage. I think this is largely a reaction to Massa's accident in 2009, and the FIA should be given credit for investigating the options at least. However, do canopies really have a place in F1?

The obvious safety improvement is that the drivers would be protected by any debris on track, like the video shows, perhaps even against other cars as well because their have been a few near misses when a car has climbed over another car from the side. However, what if the car flips and catches on fire, for example. How could the driver be extracted quickly?

Also, F1 has always been open wheel and open cockpit, which I think adds something to its thrill and appeal. An F1 car with a canopy just doesn't sound right - we could have been looking at cars with a roof and 4-cylinder engines. This sounds like touring cars to me, not F1.

Thoughts?
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
It was on the F1 site and various others a few days ago: http://www.formula1.com/news/features/2011/7/12314.html

Very few drivers (relatively speaking) have been injured when they otherwise wouldn't have been if it was a closed cockpit.
Yes there was Massa in 2009 and several others have been hit by birds and stones, not to mention Tom Pryce's dreadful accident.
But statistically speaking, having a closed cockpit would make a very small difference.

If it ever happens then it will be the end of F1.
 

sushifiesta

Champion Elect
Contributor
Yeah, it seems to have sneaked under the radar a bit but it could mean massive changes for F1. I think Bernie, if not anyone else, would do his best to stop it from happening.
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
Good grief!

That doesn't bode well for spectators, marshalls and the rest of those around the edge of the track.
 

sushifiesta

Champion Elect
Contributor
Although if a tyre has come off at speed anything it bounces off will put spectators and marshalls at risk, I'm not sure having a canopy would really increase the chance of someone being hit.
 

Josh

Champion Elect
I don't remember exactly where I've read it, but if I recall correctly the drivers have spoken out against this idea, because it could trap them in case the car rolls over or put them at more risk in case of fire. These are very legitimate concerns and I doubt F1 will ever see canopies. The only times a driver is hit on the head is in case of a freak accident, like Massa's and Tom Pryce's accidents.
 

RevMaxPower

Banned
Covered wheels would make more sense. It would stop wheels going astray (safety) and there'd be more chance of finishing the race after minor "scuffles" as well.

I think the manufacturers would approve of this as they'd stand a better chance of gaining points.
 

RickD

Pole Sitter
Although if a tyre has come off at speed anything it bounces off will put spectators and marshalls at risk, I'm not sure having a canopy would really increase the chance of someone being hit.
Not quite, the canopy acts a bit like a bouncy ball, it doesn't exactly absorb the impact, more it puts the energy back into the object that strikes it, this means that the object (in this case a tyre) ends up possibly having more energy than it started with, which is a reason it would have ended up so far away, with current set-ups in F1, the energy of a crash is dissapated through the carbon structure, effectively taking energy out of the process, which is why the carbon fibre shatters.
 

MCLS

Anti F1 fan
Valued Member
Covered wheels would make more sense.

Defeats the point of an 'open wheel series' then, besides with improvements in technology they can minimise the chances of a wheel coming off, even if it means using basic (but effective) methods like extra tethers.
 

Jos the Boss

Champion Elect
I don't see how it would help if they were trapped in the car. And if there was a tyre hurtling towards me at 140mph I would get out the way and fast, I don't think they're under risk from tyres and what happens if there is shattered glass? All more dangerous.
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
How about a cage such as they use on Drag cars? It would stop larger pieces of debris such as wheels and tyre hitting the driver although perhaps not flying springs.

a2.jpg
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
and what happens if there is shattered glass? All more dangerous.
It would be made from polycarbonate, so glass wouldn't be an issue.

What would be an issue though is overheating and ventilation.

Imagine driving for 90 minutes in 40 degrees with no shade in the hottest part of the day, with 5 fireproof layers on, gloves, balaclava and helmet, sitting on top of an engine and exhaust system which is at hundreds of degrees, and then enclosed in a plastic bubble.

No thanks...
 

Bushi

Pole Sitter
How about a cage such as they use on Drag cars? It would stop larger pieces of debris such as wheels and tyre hitting the driver although perhaps not flying springs.

Problem would be getting in of the cockpit or getting out quickly when there is a fire.
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
OK, we want to prevent the kind of injury that almost killed Felipe Massa and did kill Henry Surtees shortly beforehand. There's nothing wrong with that. However, we must not, in doing so, make more likely the kind of accident which nearly killed Niki Lauda and did kill Elio de Angelis, Roger Williamson and Lorenzo Bandini.

It is important that you can get out of the car. It is vital that you can get out of the car. So covering the cockpit in the name of safety is a flawed plan.

Lets hope we see none of these accidents anyway.
 
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