Le Mans 2014 winner and Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg has stated that he is against the idea of introducing enclosed or protected cockpits in F1, as he does not believe the series should become too “sterilised”.
The subject of additional cockpit protection for open wheel drivers has become a major topic in both the motorsport press and the wider media agenda after the death of Justin Wilson, who was tragically killed by a piece of debris during an Indycar race at Pocono.
However, the subject has been an ongoing feature of open wheel racing for years, and the FIA has conducted feasibility studies into the pros and cons of closed cockpits. Just last month, former F1 driver Rubens Barrichello called for science to lead the debate in the wake of Jules Bianchi’s death.
Hulkenberg spoke with Autosport about the merits of protected cockpits ahead of the Italian Grand Prix: “There are pros and cons, but I see single seater racing as open cockpits. 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.”
“We shouldn’t sterilise the whole things, make everything too clinical and overprotect the whole thing. That’s not good for the sport and might make things a bit more unattractive.”
The FIA has stated that it will conduct further feasibility studies later this month, starting with Mercedes’ halo concept (illustrated above) and another device consisting of blades of varying heights at angles, which are designed to make them nearly invisible to driver.
FIA technical director, Charlie Whiting, has said that he expects protected cockpits will be introduced in the near future.