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GP Week : Issue 227
.com weeK Accessible via the GPWeeK APP CLICK on the appropriate provider (right) The death of Justin Wilson in an Indycar accident last month has seen renewed calls for increased protection for the drivers of open wheel racing cars. Wilson was struck on the helmet by debris from another car, causing severe head injuries which ultimately claimed the popular Brit's life. The incident shared startling similarities to the incident which ruled Felipe Massa out for the second half of the 2009 season after he was struck in the head by debris, and the incident which claimed Henry Surtees' life in a Formula 2 crash the same year. Advances in safety over the decades have seen a dramatic drop in fatal accidents but drivers of open wheel cars remain susceptible to debris striking their heads. Wilson's accident, coming so closely after the loss of Jules Bianchi who also succumbed to head injuries, has prompted a rethink when it comes to driver safety. The FIA has long been looking into solutions such as a fighter jet style canopy over the driver, while Mercedes has proposed a halo style design which effectively adds an additional roll hoop just for ward of the driver's head. Both solutions have sparked heated discussion with some claiming it defies the very nature of open wheel cars and others asserting that it's time to put tradition to one side in the name of safety. "This shouldn't happen at this time in motorsport," McLaren's Jenson Button said in Monza. "It's not the 70s, we should know better. "I was one of many drivers that said 'this is open cockpit racing, it should stay as open cockpit racing'," he added. "But I think we've all had enough now. It's time to do something serious about it, not just changing the headrest on the cars and things. I think you've got to get a canopy on the car of some sort. We can't have this happening as much as it has. "Since Henry Surtees, there have been a lot of head injuries that have ended up with death, so it's got to be changed "I personally feel that it needs to happen sooner rather than later and I think in Indycar it needs to happen because they seem to have a lot more issues than we do." “If one closed cockpit saves one life, it is worth doing it," agreed Fernando Alonso, but not everyone shared their opinion. “When we sign up we know there is still some risk involved and there could potentially be some danger but that is in the DNA of racing in motorsport," argued Nico Hulkenberg. “We shouldn’t sterilise the whole thing, make everything too clinical and overprotect the whole thing. “That’s also not good for the sport and might make things a bit more unattractive.” "We’re in a time where we’ve had too many fatalities," added Lewis Hamilton. "While it has been lot less than it was years ago, it’s still too many. We shouldn’t have had any. “Maybe it doesn’t have to be closed," he suggested. "There are different mechanisms we can have, with people exploring ideas.” While the canopy debate has come and gone in the past, this time discussions are more serious. This time the outcome could forever change the shape of open wheel racing. MANAGING EDITOR Chris Lambden firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR Mat Coch CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Formula 1: Mike Doodson Paolo Filisetti (F1 Tech Editor) Sean Kelly Social Media: Ernie Black PhOTOGRAPhy Sutton Motorsport Images www.sutton-images.com Keith Sutton email@example.com: Mark Sutton, Daniel Kalisz, Mirko Stange, Dirk Klynsmith PUBlIShED By Grand Prix Week Ltd 61 Watling Street, Towcester Northants NN12 6AG United Kingdom PUBlIShER Chris Lambden firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING Richard Partridge email@example.com Ph: + 44 1273 232 566 Mob: + 44 7771 567 644 Mark Sutton firstname.lastname@example.org se Asia, Australasia GPWEEK (Australia) email@example.com 11 GPWEEK.com // 11 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> news wilson death sparks fresh canopy calls