4y ago

There's great debate around protecting the heads of the drivers in F1 these days. It is seen as the next step in driver safety, but all the solutions proposed can also be very polarizing, for various reasons. Here's a roundup of what we've seen so far, with the help of models I made out of virtual LEGO bricks!

The current solution involves ever higher side "headrest" protection. Satisfies the more conservative and traditionalist F1 fans who require open-top cockpits. Of course, it provides the less protection to the drivers themselves. The FIA said they clearly wanted to move away from that, notably after the fatal crashes of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi.

Seemingly the only one enjoying advanced testing and approval by the FIA, the HALO system as tested by Ferrari early in the season is a first step towards frontal head prtection in F1. Its very open structure allows quick driver exit, but will also fail deflecting smaller objects, like the one Felipe Massa took in the helmet in 2009. It would however presumably provide enough protection against a wheel or another car. It is also quite ugly, it has to be said!

Tested and designed by the Red Bull team, the Aeroscreen solution appears to be a nice compromise between the full canopy and the easy egress and better visibility of open cockpits. It also looks miles better than the Halo, and, made strong enough, should be able to deflect most objects coming directly towards the driver's head. However, it seems that so far the FIA didn't find Red Bull's solution strong enough, and prefers the Halo to it for now.

Seen as the most futuristic solution, the full canopy sure looks the part. It would provide integral protection, but there are a number of challenges to overcome before what some see as an inevitable implementation. First of all, the driver has to be able to escape the cockpit in a few seconds in any situation, should there be a fire in the car, for example. Other issues involve heat, visibility of and from the driver, added weight, and a loss of what some see as a core identity of Formula 1: open cockpits. I for one think that the incredible engineers in F1 should be able to get past those issues, and also that open-wheels and engineering excellence is what makes F1 what it is.

So here are our four solutions as of today. Each with their strength and weaknesses. It seems however that F1 is decidedly going towards more head protection, and the Halo as been billed as the favorite for the 2018 season.

I had fun building these, and hopefully it helps some have a clearer idea of what the F1 of the future will look like.

What's your favorite solution?

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Comments (34)

  • I'd say closed cockpit will be the long term best option. It not only provides the best protection, but it adds to the aerodynamic structure and if designed correctly, should be isolated from the engine to such an extent that fire cannot reach the driver for at least 10-20 minutes. Besides, engine compartments should include fire extinguishing pods strategically integrated.

      4 years ago
  • Solutions to what? Accidents can't always be foreseen. I have no wish for anyone to be harmed, but for Motorsport to be exciting - it needs to have an element of danger. Those that choose to be involved know the risks..... And are well paid for it.

      4 years ago
  • Any of these soluce will be protected jules Bianchi.

    The halo add 5 seconds for emergency exit. ....

      4 years ago
  • Why is getting out of the cockpit in seconds that important to F1, compared to other motorsports that as dangerous, but still safe enough to have a closed cockpit(rally, DTM, any touring car, NASCAR's,etc)

    And how's a lil extra weight to a full canopy going to affect a high power F1 racecar if all the team are required to install into their racecars?

    Crashes are fun to watch, but it's never a good thing when someone is injured from it...

      4 years ago
    • Because all closed cockpit race cars have doors. Which an F1 car doesnt. It's as much of importance to be able to exit a closed cockpit car as the F1.

        4 years ago
  • The halo device has a vertical support on the centre line of the car, directly in front of the driver. Maybe it'll save them from flying wheels but the wheels will only be flying due to the massive crashes caused by none of the drivers being able to see ahead of them.

      4 years ago