Drivers lend weight to F1 canopy debate

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo has lent his voice to the growing debate around the place of closed cockpits in open wheel racing, as the discussion gathers momentum.

The Australian racer has echoed the sentiments of Jenson Button and suggested that the time is right for F1 to implement full canopy protection in the wake of the fatal head injuries suffered by both Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Ricciardo commented: “It is something I want to definitely go for – for me it is the last piece of the puzzle. The helmets have come a long way but unfortunately we have still seen some tragic accidents and you get to a point where you don’t care about tradition anymore.”

“I don’t care if the statistics say there have only been a few deaths in the last 20 years. Statistics cannot predict what is going to happen in the future so now we need to ignore tradition and go for safety.

“As a current driver and seeing these things happen around you in Formula 1 and in IndyCar, it hits home a lot more and you just don’t care how the past has been with tradition. It is silly not to look into options now for sure.”

Opinion appears to be split between drivers, with Le Mans 2015 winner Nico Hulkenberg suggesting that the introduction of closed cockpits would ‘sterilise’ the sport.

Education at the core of the debate

While drivers, the media and fans will all have a view on the introduction of increased cockpit protection, the FIA must be seen to lead the debate on this issue.

There is precious little data publicly available on the performance of canopy cockpits, despite the FIA having trialled variations in recent years. Publishing the results of these tests would help to provide answers on the best route to take and address many of the safety concerns that have been put forward.

Let’s hope for progress on this matter soon, before it is too late.

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