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GP Week : Issue 178
Monaco Singapore Abu Dhabi Austin 24/25/26 May 21 / 22 September 1 / 3 November 15/16/17 November AMBER LOUNGE THE ULTIMATE VIP GRAND PRIX EXPERIENCE 2013 CELEBRATING 10 YEARS VIP Parties Fashion Shows Dining Hospitality Live Acts BlackBook-210x282.indd 1 01/03/2013 17:52 Formula One’s governing body is continuing to work to develop a system to better protect drivers’ heads from loose wheels and debris, Formula One race director Charlie Whiting said at the season opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, while insisting that there was no short term fix. The FIA has been exploring different ways in which to improve safety around drivers’ heads for several years, after an accident killed Henry Surtees – son of 1964 Formula One world champion John Surtees – in a Formula 2 race in 2009. Only a few days later, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa suffered near-fatal head injuries after a loose spring that had fallen off another car pierced his helmet and hit his head in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Over the past few years, the FIA has tested windshields and fighter-jet canopies, firing a Formula One tyre into them at high speed, as it considered the possibility of fitting them over the cockpit thereby enclosing it in a protective bubble However, following concerns about how quickly a driver could exit the car if the cockpits were covered – especially if the car was upside down – the focus has now moved to roll hoops that can be fitted to the chassis in front of the cockpit which would remain open. “It’s going ahead, very much in fact,” Whiting said. “It’s a long term project, you have to understand that. You may have seen video footage in various places of canopies being tested, for ward roll hoops being tested – the aim is to deflect a wheel away from a drivers head. It’s very complex.” One of the key considerations in fitting any sort of driver head protection to the car has been to make sure it does not affect the driver’s visibility. “We’re consulting quite a few extremely clever people and it now seems that we can achieve what we want achieve,” Whiting said. Formula One safety has progressed leaps and bounds since the sport’s inception over 60 years ago. The sport hasn’t seen a fatality since 1994, when Roland Ratzenberger and three-time World Champion Ayrton Senna were killed over the San Marino Grand Prix weekend. But drivers’ heads remain exposed and the issue became a major topic of discussion last year when Romain Grosjean’s Lotus climbed over Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix, narrowly missing the Spaniard’s head. The head protection system was now being tested on simulators and Whiting said one of the major drawbacks hampering its development was that different simulators yielded different results. “... Some of the things that have been tried in simulators, drivers will say on a one simulator this is fine, others will say on a different simulator – the same thing – this is awful,” the FIA race director revealed. “So we think the type of simulators being used is not giving us representative feedback. So now we’re looking at an alternative way of settling this. “The guys from the FIA Institute who are helping us with this are concentrating on two of the top teams to try and iron this out. There’s not a short term fix." F1 >>> NEWS CW: No short-term fix for head protection 9 GPWEEK.com // 9 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: