F1 racing has evolved throughout the years in terms of safety, whereby drivers are now encased in a safety shell that protects them from impacts on all sides, with wheels that are tethered to ensure they don’t fly across the track or into the crowd when an accident occurs, and not to forget the rigorous testing each car must go through before being allowed to race.
However, there is still one weak point in the design of a Formula 1 car that has yet to be addressed, and it is the cockpit in which the driver sits where the driver’s head is exposed. Sure, the low seating and the high sides of the car and the use of a helmet offers a lot of protection, but there are unforeseeable circumstances where a wheel does appear on the track, or when parts of a car go flying in the air after an accident that may have a chance to hit the driver square in the face or head. Naturally driving at such high speeds combined with the force of impact will likely result in the driver’s neck snapping or getting more than a concussion.
This is why the FIA Institute is now testing different methods that they can use to avoid such a scenario from happening, and one of it involves incorporating a fighter jet’s canopy to be placed over the cockpit. In the video below, they tested the strength of a regular polycarbonate shield which completely shattered upon impact, but at the same time deflecting the wheel they used to launch at it. When using the fighter jet’s aerospace-spec polycarbonate shield, the wheel was deflected without causing the shield to break.
Naturally the shield will be adding more weight onto the F1 car, which will definitely cause the car to be slower, although if everyone incorporates the same technology, it ought to balance out. Or perhaps they might come up with something lighter and just as strong, who knows?