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GP Week : Issue 154
BRIEFLY » Reports that work had stopped on Sochi’s F1 circuit, future home of the Russian Grand Prix, this week drew attention to political changes in the region that could spell the end of the race. A government reshuffle that took place in Russia’s Krasnodar region in March saw a number of supporters and originators of the F1 project lose their jobs. Construction work is said to have ground to a halt, prompting concerns the Russian Grand Prix will be postponed, if not called off. But the Russian Automobile Federation is confident the race will go ahead as scheduled. “I have no doubts that this event will be held successfully,” said Igor Yermilin, adviser with the RAF. “Our country has never failed in delivering such big international events, nor has it neglected its obligations. Especially considering Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has become our president.” » The Williams garage fire following the Spanish Grand Prix could have a knock-on effect on the British team’s performance in Monaco, chief operations engineer Mark Gillan admitted this week. “The extent of the damage is still being accessed and will not become fully clear until both the cars and equipment have returned to the factory,” he said. “What is clear is that our garage IT equipment and infrastructure have been badly damaged. On the back of a win we go to Monaco with high hopes, but there is a prodigious amount of work to be done prior to the event to recover from the fire.” McLaren are one of the teams to have offered Williams the use of spare equipment until more can be sourced. Those injured in the fire have now all returned home. The final member of the team was flown back to Britain on Tuesday, where he is being given further medical care. DRIVER HEAD PROTECTION INEVITABLE SAYS WHITING Driver head protection is an inevitable part of F1’s future, race director Charlie Whiting told the BBC this week. The FIA has been researching a range of methods designed to improve driver head protection – one of the key aim’s of the governing body’s aim to improve driver safety in all areas – since 2009, when Formula Two racer Henry Surtees was killed at Brands Hatch a mere seven days before Felipe Massa incurred a head injury during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix. In April, GP WEEK showed you footage of the FIA testing one of the proposed solutions – a for ward- facing roll hoop. “There has to be something to try to prevent a wheel hitting a driver's head,” Whiting told BBC Sport before conceding that some form of roll-over protection was “the most likely option in my opinion” . While work has been done to secure the wheels to the cars, there is always the risk of a freak accident involving the tethers shearing. “We have done our best to stop a wheel coming off and we are constantly working hard to come up with better ways of making sure wheels stay attached to cars,” Whiting said. Whatever the eventual solution, Whiting was keen to emphasise that the FIA’s research was on-going, and that no one solution had yet been chosen. To move too quickly was to risk going down the wrong path, he said. “The research should be done first, so we are able to come up with something that works,” he asserted. Research on the for ward roll hoop solution follows the abandonment of the proposed cockpit canopies which were under discussion last year. The canopies were an unpopular proposal, partly because Formula One has always been associated with open-cockpit racing, but also because extensive testing revealed a number of safety limitations including – but not limited to – driver extraction. Charlie Whiting tests a prototype driver head-protection device during a track inspection at Bahrain ... F1 >>> NEWS 5 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: