Smedley: Closed cockpits an option

Date published: October 7 2014

Williams chief of vehicle performance Rob Smedley believes closed cockpits would be “very easy to implement” in Formula 1.

The issue of safety in the sport has once again been thrown into the spotlight following Jules Bianchi’s accident during the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka on Sunday.

The Marussia driver suffered severe head injuries when he crashed into a recovery vehicle that was busy removing the Sauber of Adrian Sutil at Turn 7.

Experiments with cockpit canopies have been conducted in recent years and Smedley says it won’t be too difficult to introduce.

“From a technical point of view it’s something very easy to implement,” Smedley told ESPNF1. “It would change the look of Formula One cars, which I guess there is an aesthetic argument for. They are open-wheel, open-cockpit racing cars.

“It’s something that we’ve looked at in lots of the Technical Working Group meetings. It’s something that has all come about from 2009 when Felipe [Massa] had his accident. It’s something that we’ve looked at and something we’ve been back and forward with. It’s not a closed [topic].”

However, many believe that closed cockpits would change Formula 1 completely, but Smedley feels the sport has to adapt with the times.

“Does it change the formula a little bit? I think if you look at how a Formula One car looks in 2014 compared to how it looks in 1950 when the Championship started, they don’t look very similar to be perfectly honest. So whether or not the aesthetics is an argument or not … certainly not one for me. Maybe for other people,” he said.

“There’s cars that do 24 hours in Le Mans in the dark and I’ve been to quite a few races there where it’s rained quite heavily. I’m sure the very clever people who design those cars have got round that problem [of visibility]. Again, I don’t think that’s a really strong argument.”