F1 teams rejected "ugly" closed cockpit solution in 2013

Formula 1's top teams rejected a move by the FIA last year to introduce closed cockpits because they felt the structures would make cars look 'shockingly' ugly

F1 teams rejected "ugly" closed cockpit solution in 2013

While Jules Bianchi's accident at the Japanese Grand Prix has served to re-open the debate about drivers having better head protection, it has emerged that FIA efforts on improving safety in this area were put on the backburner nearly 12 months ago.

After work on closed cockpits by the FIA ramped up during 2012, the governing body came up with the idea of a roll structure solution in front of the driver.

However, AUTOSPORT has learned that last October, during a meeting of F1's Strategy Group, the FIA made clear that if it was to continue expensive work on making closed cockpits a reality then it needed the support of teams.

According to the minutes of the meeting that was distributed afterwards, leading F1 figures involved in the discussion - including Bernie Ecclestone, Red Bull boss Christian Horner, then McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh and then Mercedes boss Ross Brawn were all against it.

While accepting there were safety benefits from having an extra roll structure around the driver, they all agreed that the looks were not fitting for F1.

Horner was quoted as saying the cars looked 'shockingly bad' while Whitmarsh said they were 'shockingly ugly'.

The teams agreed that F1 was about open-cockpit racing and the roll hoop solution - which Whiting said was the only closed cockpit concept that the FIA believed could work - was not an avenue that they wanted grand prix racing to go down.

The minutes of the meeting noted: "It was agreed that the project should be discontinued."

While a roll cage solution is beneficial in certain situations - especially in deflecting objects heading towards the driver - it is unclear how much of a help it would have been in the kind of impact that Bianchi suffered.

Bianchi's car speared off the track and ran head first underneath the overhang at the rear of a heavy recovery vehicle.

The French driver's family issued a statement from Japan on Tuesday revealing that he had suffered a diffuse axonal injury.

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Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
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