F1 to introduce Wild Idea for Cockpit Protection (Update)

UPDATE F1 race director Charlie Whiting thinks the idea of an "active" cockpit protection system in grand prix racing is "impractical", as he prefers current plans for a Halo or canopy.

Amid discussions by teams at the F1 Strategy Group in Geneva on Thursday about delaying the Halo, it emerged that teams have come up with the idea of trying to develop an active debris-deflection device.

The idea is that it would use detection technology to trigger a fin or similar car part in front of the cockpit to pop out of the car in the event of an incident to prevent drivers getting hurt.

Although Whiting is aware of the concept, he said ahead of the German Grand Prix that he did not think it would be suitable for F1.

"I’ve seen it — someone has sent me one of these designs — but I think it would be wholly impractical to be honest," he said. "I cannot see how you can deploy it in the right amount of time.

"I think the inventor, if we can call it that, misunderstands — a driver is not going to see something coming and think "oh my goodness, I better push that button". Honestly I don’t think that is feasible."

Halo plans

Whiting remains convinced that work on the Halo — including extensive testing of it during full practice sessions later this year — will ultimately come up with the perfect standard solution.

"As you know we have tested extensively with the Halo and, to a lesser extent, with the Aeroscreen," he said. "We are subjecting those things to a worst case scenario, so I think it is the best thing to continue down that path."

Whiting confirmed that he wanted all drivers to run the Halo at some point this season to better understand how much it affects visibility.

"We asked all teams yesterday to look at the possibility of running a car at Spa and Monza, but that was before the decision was taken to defer it to 2018," he said.

"Now I think we should look towards a structured plan; that all teams run it at all tracks. My aim would be to get every driver to try it." Jonathan Noble/Motorsport.com

How fast can head protection be deployed if head impact is going to happen?
How fast can head protection be deployed if head impact is going to happen?

07/30/16 In order to perform more extensive testing, Formula 1 decided yesterday to delay the implementation of cockpit protection until at least 2018. That means that will Ferrari's Halo not be introduced next season, but it could also potentially allow Red Bull to restart development of its canopy. But those aren't the only two options. Apparently F1's Strategy Group is also looking at something called active cockpit protection.

As Motorsport reports, one idea that's being discussed is an active driver safety system. While something like the Halo is attached and doesn't move, an active system would use some sort of fin hidden within the car itself. The car would then use sensors to determine if a piece of debris was likely to hit the driver, and if so, it would pop up to protect his head.

Theoretically, this idea would improve driver safety while still allowing for an open cockpit. If it could be made to work, it could be the compromise F1 has been looking for. But it would have to be designed not to block the driver's vision, and it would have to work reliably. It's also about as complicated as cockpit protection could possibly get.

And while we guess it's possible that a pop-up safety fin could work, let's just say we're not exactly holding our breath.

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