Barrichello calls for science to lead F1 cockpit debate

The discussion over the continuation of F1 as an open cockpit formula has raged for many years, with the injuries sustained by Felipe Massa in 2009 and Jules Bianchi in 2014 keeping the debate in the limelight.

While many journalists and stakeholders in the sport have called for F1 to remain as an open cockpit series, former racer Rubens Barrichello recently spoke with Motorsport.com about the issue. He is calling for the sport to review the matter based on the latest evidence to drive innovations in driver safety:

“Only since can show us what is right and what is wrong. F1 always had open cockpits, and we’ll have people complaining and people thinking that it’s fine to continue. Actually, motorsport will never be safe. But if we had a recovery vehicle on the track, you can have a cockpit made with whatever – you’re still gonna hurt yourself.”

“But if you crash where cars are supposed to crash, with the new race tracks there is a lot of safety. But only crash tests and science can prove one thing or another.”

Barichello’s sentiments are echoed by fellow Brazilian Luciano Burti, who suffered series injuries during the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix:

“I am not in favour of this change. I say this despite having had a big crash in this way in F1. It’s difficult to give your view about this, because maybe a closed cockpit could have saved Biachi’s life.”

“So, thinking like this, you cannot be against. But thinking just about the sport, I don’t wanna see this change. It’s even called open-wheel, so it should be like this. I will never be against something that brings more safety to the championship, but at the same time F1 has this DNA. If you change this, it will be bad for F1.”

Open and closed case

Interestingly the matter of cockpit safety was not included in the 2015 Global F1 Fan survey. As such, it is inevitable that the sport will want to get the fans’ perspective on the introduction of closed concepts before they are made mandatory.

Safety is an important issue for the sport, its sponsors and its fans. Providing the FIA is able to offer conclusive proof that a closed cockpit approach will significantly enhance safety without introducing additional safety issues (e.g. possibility of drivers trapped inside after crashes), then I am certain that this would be a positive innovation for everyone.

Would you welcome the closed cockpit concept or are you an open-cockpit purist? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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