Mirror, mirror on the sidepod...


Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
My apologies for the daft title but I thought it worth starting some discussion following on from Japan where Lewis Hamilton admitted due to a combination of vibration and poor peripheral vision he has had trouble seeing out of the mirrors on his car all season. This isn't the first time a driver has admitted to not being able to see where they are going (or have been), Nico Rosberg had similar problems at Mercedes last year and (I think) Felipe Massa also had trouble because he was sitting so low.

So what should be done? There was a comment on here (my apologies I can't remember who from) that drivers should have a "vision test" i.e. that they can see objects when placed in front of the car at a set distance. Seems fairly logical to me, and I would suggest going further and making sure they can see something when placed at various points around the car.

Where the FIA wrong to ask the teams to move all their mirrors in-board last season? I know some were taking the mick and using the mirror mounts as additional barge boards but would rearward vision be improved with mirrors mounted further out?

For years the design of F1 cars threatened injury or death to the driver as chassis and aero parts were made lighter and less robust. My concern with the current designs, where the driver plays peek-a-boo over the steering wheel, is that it threatens injury or death not to the driver in the car but to one of the other competitors who they can't see properly.

F1 has made a lot of changes to improve safety, is it time for a review of where and how the driver sits and what he can and can't see?
Most complaints about the mirrors were (I think) because they vibrate so much. I'm not sure whether mounting them further out would fix this - I think they need to be more robust, something to lessen the vibrations.

I do think it's time to review how much a driver can see out of the cockpit, it's getting a bit ridiculous. The collision between Lewis and Felipe could have ended in a crash if they hadn't realised what was going on and better mirrors could have prevented it altogether.
As mirrors vibrate so much, why not embrace new technology and have a small camera and screen(s)?

We've seen how good the quality is from the onboard cameras, so I have no doubt the amount of detail and clarity would be much better than what can be seen in a badly vibrating mirror.

It would obviously require some changes to the current designs, but nothing which couldn't be worked out.
Can't argue that drivers should be able to see :)

I would also like an acoustic system with proximity sensors to alert when an opponent is alongside. Beep in the left each means a car is on your left.
It needn't be mirrors - since all cars can be identified and exactly positioned why not have the car number and lateral distance to the rear axle shown in the cockpit a la parking sensors, but up to about 40m - the mirrors can be used for verification?

Downside: Drivers who's coming up and how fast, so may make you drive more defensively - but then, they know when they're defending anyway, this should simply identify whether they are defending or being lapped and give them the part of the same data the stewards will use to judge them.

Upside: Anyone who says they're not aware of the driver behind them can pop their super licence in the envelope provided and return it to the FIA.

To be honest, shaky bits of reflective glass are a bit passe for F1. With cars laden with cameras and LED screen technology there has to be a better and more easily visible solution, but the teams will never drive it through it has to be an FIA decision.

There is a motorcycle helmet out there that uses glass fibre tech to view the outline of what is happening behind you sent from a panel on the back of the helmet to a strip along the top of the visor. If hairy bikers can resolve how to find out what's going on behind them without making a noticible change to their kit....
I suspect it's a convenience / excuse to have 'not seen him coz of the vibrating mirrors'.
However, I'm sure the huge increase in bodywork around the drivers head and shoulders over the last few years does restrict peripheral vision.
Bigger mirrors will probably help and better mounting. Not sure about screens in the cockpit and cameras; I suspect we'd see claims that the screen / camera had failed instead...
You would think that the teams themselves would have plenty of incentive to sort this problem out - clumsily broken front wings and punctures more than offset the tiny aero and weight gains involved. Still I suppose they are loath to add any more weight that far above the centre of mass, so probably the FIA should mandate a solution.
I think camera's are still a few years off. The onboard cameras still breakup and cut out occasionally, which would be unacceptable for a driver relying on that image.

The mirrors would be fine (they've never been great), if it weren't for the incredibly small amount of peripheral vision that the modern cockpit allows.
Can't argue that drivers should be able to see :)

I would also like an acoustic system with proximity sensors to alert when an opponent is alongside. Beep in the left each means a car is on your left.

They wouldn't be able to have a beeping systems for proximity sensors as they already have a beeping system for when to change gear.

To be honest I don't think anything will be done about it. Teams will always try to seat their driver as low as possible in the car and unless a serious accident occurred specifically because a driver couldn't see another I don't think the FIA will change anything.
Could they put cut outs (or even just lower that area a bit) in the head support areas to improve the driver's line of sight or might this affect the resistance to impact for this part of the driver protection?
Hmm Where did he say this? He may have been infering that they don't vibrate more than other cars or he may have been saying what it appears like. All I know is that when you see the McLaren in the breaking zones it looks incredibely stiff.

Is there any reason for the FIA not to make it mandatory for cars to run rear view cameras instead? Although I feel some purists would complain, I don't know why as it is still using the same skill set but I just think they would.

Would the slow puncture have affected anything?

It may have made it vibrate a bit more, but Whitmarsh says it could have been a distracting factor which could have been why Hamilton wasn't aware Massa was on his left.
Hamilton claimed that he could not see Massa behind him as they ran into each other at the chicane at Suzuka.

That’s because Massa was not behind him, he was along side! lol. No car mirror shows the car at the side of you, even the ones on my car.
You don't even need to look at the mirrors. Just look at the damn car under braking. The McLaren is visibly stiffer than any other car and while this produces a very sturdy car in the braking zones, there is no doubt that the car, and indeed the mirrors, are vibrating to a serious degree.

I find this topic thoroughly uninteresting though, as rearward vision from a Formula One cockpit has always been notoriously poor.
Each track could set up an extremely accurate positioning system similar to gps by setting up a few transmitter masts
Each car has a receiver that can pinpoint its location accurately enough to show overlapping wheels
The car sends it signal to base which thencomputes and transmits a real time position of all cars to each
Each car then has a screen that shows the driver a radius of 5 meters around the car

That would not be expensive in F1 terms

A bit like prozone in football

Maybe a job for BSKYB
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