Williams chief: F1 should consider closed cockpits
LONDON (AP) — Formula One should consider introducing closed cockpits after Jules Bianchi’s crash at the Japanese Grand Prix, according to the Williams team leadership.
The Frenchman, who drives for Marussia, is in a critical but stable condition in hospital after sustaining a head injury when his car hit a crane during Sunday’s rain-shortened race.
Enclosed cockpits could provide greater protection for drivers’ skulls.
“It’s something we have to look at,” Claire Williams, deputy team principal at Williams, said on Wednesday. “If it can improve safety then of course it has to be on the agenda as a conversation to have. Enclosed cockpits aren’t easy technically for us to integrate into a Formula One car and of course they change the very nature of what a Formula One car looks like.
“We have to look at all the options available to us whether it’s an enclosed cockpit or not, but those conversations need to go on behind the scenes.”
Williams declined to discuss if the closed cockpits had been rejected by F1 because they were deemed to be ugly.
“We have to find ways to ensure our drivers are as protected as possible,” Williams said on the sidelines of the Leaders’ Sport Business Summit in London. “The aesthetics of a Formula One car — yes they are important, they are the very fiber and DNA of Formula One and what cars look like is important — but safety has to be paramount.”
According to a report issued by FIA after the race, Bianchi lost control of his car, travelled across the run-off area and hit the back of the tractor that was being used to remove Adrian Sutil’s Sauber car. Bianchi was unconscious when he was taken from Suzuka to the hospital.
The next race is the inaugural Russian GP on Sunday in Sochi, the Black Sea resort that hosted this year’s Winter Olympics.