FIA plans new safety initiatives

The FIA is investigating a range of new safety measures for Formula 1 in the years ahead. "We are now looking at frontal protection, with an airbag coming out of the steering wheel," said FIA president Max Mosley in Imola. "It is a difficult task because in F1 such devices must respond much more rapidly than the road car equivalent would, and the explosion which inflates the airbag might be so violent that in itself it might cause injury. "We are looking at lateral protection, investigating the height of cockpitsides and the use of energy-absorbing material. Again, this is a surprisingly technical area. The universal reaction after Karl Wendlinger'saccident in Monaco was to raise the height of the cockpit sides. ButProfessor Sid Watkins (chairman of the new F1 safety committee) wanted to look at this more carefully - and we have found a close relationship between the height and the material of the cockpit sides, and the distance between it and the head. "Mosley also confirmed that there is a research program involving crash test dummies to look at ways of avoiding excessive force to the neck and brain of drivers and at the possibility of an energy-absorbing seats which could be taken out of the car, complete with the driver, after an accident. Circuit safety is also being researched with investigations into the concept of energy-absorbing barriers.

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