F1 drivers want closed cockpits by 2017

Mark Sutton/Sutton Images

The Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) has called for the introduction of a closed cockpit design in Formula One by 2017 at the latest.

The subject of cockpit protection has been at the top of F1's safety agenda since Jules Bianchi sustained serious head injuries at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix that resulted in his death last year. Just over a month after Bianchi's death, former-F1 driver Justin Wilson also died after being struck in the head by debris during an IndyCar race.

F1 cars will feature increased safety measures this year after teams were tasked with increasing the height of the cockpit's side protection by 20mm and strengthening the area to withstand a force of 50 kilonewtons (up from 15 kilonewtons last year). However, the GPDA is keen for a more radical change by next year in order to protect more of the driver's head from accident debris.

GPDA president and former-F1 driver Alex Wurz told the BBC there was no reason why closed cockpits should not be introduced in time for 2017.

"Obviously structural changes are required to the chassis but, with almost a one-year lead time, I don't see any technical person speaking against such substantial safety improvements, especially given the last big accidents in open-wheel racing involved head injuries," he said. "So all the drivers, and I, hope that passing the additional head protection will be a formality."

The FIA has been investigating possible closed cockpit designs for several years and it appears a concept known as the "halo" has emerged as the best option. The design features two protective arms above the driver's head that meet in the middle where they are supported by a central strut in front of the driver.

"The research the FIA experts have done is very thorough and the process has brought forward a clear solution," Wurz added. "Now the drivers feel it's time to implement the extra protection at the latest in 2017."