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GP Week : Issue 151
As part of its ongoing efforts to improve driver safety in Formula One, the FIA is now investigating the possibility of securing front-mounted roll- hoops to F1 cars. Following Henry Surtees’ 2009 death in a Formula Two race at Brand Hatch, when the British racer succumbed to injuries incurred when the young racer was hit on the head by a free- wheeling tyre, and Felipe Massa’s head injury during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix one week later, the FIA began the task of investigating how to increase a driver’s head protection. Currently under consideration are front-mounted roll-hoops, and the FIA have just released a video showing tests in which full wheel assemblies weighing 20 kilograms were fired at a helmet and roll- hoop assembly built by the Lotus F1 team. “The roll-hoop basically did a very good job. It was able to keep a wheel away from the driver’s head,” Andy Mellow, technical adviser at the FIA Institute, told in-house magazine IQ. “We tested it both by firing the wheel down the centre of the car, and also coming at it from an angle. At this stage it’s almost pure research, which we need if we’re to understand what the loads are in such impacts. We’re not at all looking at final solutions as such.” As the FIA say in the embedded video, a move towards front- mounted roll-hoops “would mark a dramatic visual departure from familiar single-seater style, but a radical aesthetic is a price well worth paying to save drivers’ lives.” There is as yet no confirmation that the Formula One Working Group will decide to go down the front-mounted roll-hoop route; it is but one option currently under consideration. Last year, closed cockpits were on the table as a possible solution that has since been dropped. FIA TEST FORWARD ROLL HOOPS 7 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS