The deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi have F1 driver Lewis Hamilton thinking that closed cockpits may be the future of open-wheel racing.
MONZA, Italy (AP)— Formula One leader Lewis Hamilton is giving serious thought to the possibility of closed cockpits following the death of fellow British driver Justin Wilson in IndyCar.
Wilson died 10 days ago after being hit in the helmet by debris from another car. That came a month after F1 driver Jules Bianchi died following nine months in a coma after a massive head injury in a race crash last October.
“It’s a difficult one. From one side I see closed cockpit as potentially the future,” Hamilton said on Thursday at the Italian Grand Prix. “But growing up and watching the sport—I grew up watching Ayrton’s (Senna) generation of racing—and it’s always been open cockpit. So it’s difficult to change minds, but sometimes change is the way forward.”
Bianchi was the first driver to die of injuries sustained in an F1 race since Senna was killed at the 1994 San Marino GP, where Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger also died during qualifying.
Dan Wheldon also died from severe head injuries after an IndyCar race in 2011.
“It’s been a lot less than 20 years ago but it’s still too many,” Hamilton said. “We’ve got to make some changes to improve Formula One.”
Still, Hamilton cringed when he thrust his hands over his head to mimic how a closed cockpit would feel like.
“Maybe it doesn’t have to be closed,” he said. “There’s different mechanisms we can have. We need to explore it.”
Andrew Dampf can be followed at www.twitter.com/asdampf