Since the dawn of motorsport open cockpit cars have represented the most potent classes. From the original Grand Prix racers to modern-day Formula One cars, the drivers head effectively becoming part of the external structure is a key ingredient to the recipe. However, with several high profile accidents involving objects striking the drivers over the years, and now two tragic deaths this year, could we be witnessing the end of open cockpit racing?
Jules Bianchi’s untimely death in July was the result of a tragic accident that involved his head striking as stationary vehicle. A true talent lost and the first death in Formula One since the great Ayrton Senna 21 years before. Filipe Massa had a narrow escape when a spring hit him at horrific speed a few years ago. Today Justin Wilson has died in an IndyCar incident that saw a stray nosecone strike him on the head.
Motorsport is dangerous, it says so on every ticket, and it will always be that way. Whilst safety has come a very long way it will never be risk free. So should the open cockpit era come to an end? Well, with the evidence presented it would seem logical, but incorporating a canopy presents its own dangers. In the event of a fire being enclosed can prevent escaping, especially after a high speed crash. Also if the car were to roll and end up inverted, how would the driver get out?
Unfortunately these accidents and deaths are a very sad case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Personally I think open cockpit racing is here to stay, maybe with some revisions?