Formula 1 could introduced coloured rain lights to improve on-track safety with the car’s rear light changing colours according to conditions.
The FIA put forward the proposal following its Safety Department’s investigations into accidents related to circuit racing during 2019.
Last year Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert lost his life in a crash at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. That was just one of 28 serious accidents.
The FIA investigation into all those crashes led to motorsport’s governing body declaring that a ‘review of the specification of front and side impact structures with respect to total energy absorption, directional performance and compatibility with a car-to-car impact, is being undertaken.
‘To ensure compatibility between the impact structures and the survival cell, the review will include changes to the specification of the strength of the survival cell to frontal and side impact as required.
‘The aim will be to increase the total energy absorption capability of the frontal impact structures used in all single seater categories, whilst ensuring survival cell designs are compatible with the vehicle accelerations and hence forces required to achieve this target. This process is already underway for Formula 1, Formula 4 and Formula E, with actions for Formula 2 and Formula 3 being incorporated into the next car update.
‘Complementing this work, research has commenced on a new generation of side impact structure. The target is a new design that would, to a high level of probability, be active in car-to-car impacts in order to further increase the regulated energy absorption capability of single seater type cars. As with the frontal impact structure, survival cell specifications will be evolved to ensure compatibility.’
A front anti-intrusion panel is also in the pipeline and will be incorporated into the base design of the next generation of all single-seater cars.
There are also smaller changes that the FIA wants to investigate, such as the electronic safety systems like that accident notification and mitigation system.
‘Technology solutions will be investigated to help mitigate any reduction of line of sight for drivers due to circuit geometry, in order to reduce any latency in notification of drivers that they are approaching the scene of an incident, thus ensuring drivers are quickly and reliably informed about the circuit status,’ read the statement.
‘Two steps are proposed. Firstly, an initial step to improve driver notification and information might be achieved using current technology such as the rain light, with only minor updates to car hardware. The rain light or any other light mounted to the rear of the car could be used to display the track status i.e. acting as a “yellow flag repeater” directly located in the line of sight of following drivers.
‘Additionally, the rear mounted light could possibly be used to indicate to a following driver when the car significantly slows as a result of encountering a yellow flag zone.
‘It is suggested, although further testing and research is required, that this adaptation of the rain light usage could reduce driver notification time, improve the reliability of driver notification and better allow drivers to make an appropriate and proportionate reaction in the case of yellow flag deployment.
‘Secondly, as a longer term solution, it is proposed to accelerate as far as possible the development and deployment of a range of advanced marshalling systems, incorporating features such as automated yellow flag generation, direct car-to-car notification of dangerously positioned stationary cars and possibly even the coordinated power reduction or redirection of cars following an incident.’