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F1: Justin Wilson's Accident Prompts Closed Cockpit Discussions


The horrible accident which befell ex-F1racer Justin Wilson yesterday has called into question the continued use of open cockpit cars.

Wilson was critically injured and remains in a coma after a freak Indycar accident where his helmet was struck by debris from Sage Karem's accident. The piece Wilson hit, whilst travelling at around 200 mph, was either the ballast or crash structure from Karem's nosecone, a heavy part which caused the injuries that have hospitalised the British racer.

Calling it a freak accident is a cop out though. Felipe Massa's accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009 was very similar, whilst Henry Surtees died after he was struck on the head by an untethered wheel which had detached in another car's accident.

And whilst neither incident involved striking debris, both Jules Bianchi and Maria de Villota died as a result of brain trauma received in helmet strikes.

It really is time to decide whether some form of cockpit canopy should be deployed to protect drivers from what has bend me one of their biggest dangers.

Whilst its unlikely that a cockpit canopy would have saved Jules Bianchi there's a good chance that Maria de Villota would have suffered a far less serious injury had her Marussia been protected. Massa and Surtees would both have benefitted from a canopy. The racing world would be naively complacent if it thinks it can just ignore this problem.

These sorts of things just don't seem to happen at Le Mans, where the fact that cars are covered in behind a closed in root and the drivers can't be seen doesn't suggest that they put spectators off.

For Justin Wilson we can only pray that the blow to his helmet was a glancing one and the well-liked Yorkshireman makes a speedy return to health.

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