Lewis Hamilton says F1 should adopt a fully-closed cockpit if it has to go ahead with introducing head protection next year, saying the Red Bull canopy concept looks too much like "a riot shield".
Red Bull will run its canopy, dubbed the 'aeroscreen', during Friday practice in Sochi and gave the first glimpses of what the design looked like on an F1 car during media day on Thursday. The canopy is one of two concepts on the table for possible introduction in 2017, along with the Halo design trialled by Ferrari over the winter.
Though an outspoken critic of the Halo concept earlier this year, Hamilton thinks F1 should fully enclose the driver inside the car if cockpit protection is the direction it wants to pursue in 2017.
When shown a picture of the Red Bull canopy, Hamilton said: "I don't really have too many thoughts on it, I like the way it is. When I get in my car I know that there is a danger, that's been the same since I started when I was eight years old and that's the risk that I am willing to take and that's the risk that every single driver who has ever been in the car has been willing to take.
"It has come along so far over the years which is amazing, we haven't really seen deaths and I mean, if they are going to do this, close the cockpit like a fighter jet. If you are going to do it close the cockpit like a fighter jet, don't half-arse it. That screen looks like something from a, I mean jeez, it looks so bad. It looks like a bloody shield from the policeman, the riot shields, it's like a bloody riot shield.
"You've got this cool, elegant, futuristic Formula One car and you've got a crappy riot shield sat on top of it, nah, and the other one, the carbon fibre structure was obviously good but obviously Fernando [Alonso] wouldn't have been able to get out of the car potentially in his crash in Melbourne but on top of that it is a good thing to see that the FIA do take safety seriously."
Hamilton is all for the push for improved driver safety but is wary of the fact fans and drivers are invested in the mythology of driving a Formula One car and the dangers involved.
"It is a constant thing that always needs to be worked on but as long as it doesn't affect the aesthetics and the style and the coolness of Formula One, because the reason you look as a kid, you look at Formula One [and think] 'wow, these guys, they are crazy. They could die at any moment.' Everyone who comes to me who has just started watching Formula One is like 'ah it's so dangerous' and that's a large part of why they are so in awe of what you do. You take away all that and that person could do it almost."
Asked if a cockpit could be something which would make him fall out of love with F1, the reigning world champion replied: "Not always no. I think it's very hard to make a perfect Formula One. Ultimately driving a Formula One car is always great so I can't see myself falling out of love with Formula One because I've always thought it's the greatest sport in the world."