Thursday, August 23, 2012
This futuristic and rather cool looking concept rendering shows what Formula One cars could look like in the future. The above image has been sourced from iacoski.com, the creator says he began work on the closed-cockpit concept after Felipe Massa’s freak accident at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Turns out it was a prophetic move, too. In response to Massa’s accident the Formula One Technical Working Group asked the FIA Institute, charged with improving motor sport safety and sustainability, to investigate ways to prevent similar injuries happening again. The institute has has since tested two technologies that could find their way onto F1 cars of the future.
In July last year they tested polycarbonate screens, first a simple windshield and then a full canopy from a jet fighter, by shooting a 20kg F1 wheel and tyre into them at 225km/h. They followed that test, earlier this year, by firing a wheel and tyre into a forward-facing roll hoop.
FIA Institute technical adviser Andy Mellor said the canopy was the more successful of the two polycarbonate tests. “The full canopy manages to deflect it [the wheel and tyre] over the top, and very little damage, if any, was visible after the test. There were tyre transfer marks on both windshield and canopy, but on the canopy there was no apparent fracture. It shows that it’s quite an elastic material and that it’s very efficient at providing a load path to keep the wheel and tyre away.”
Speaking about the roll-hoop Mellor explained the test showed an unexpected benefit. “The roll-hoop basically did a very good job. It was able to keep a wheel away from a driver’s head. We tested it both by firing the wheel down the centre of the car, and also coming at it from an angle.
“The impact deflated the tyre during both tests. We tend to think that’s a good thing—it means that the wheel doesn’t bounce as much. It stops much more quickly if you can deflate the tyre.”
If the Technical Working Group decides F1 should go down the path of closed-cockpit design, let’s hope they look something like the Iacoski rendering or the ones below.
Video of the FIA Institute tests