Improve cockpits, says Button

MONZA (Italy) • Jenson Button has called for Formula One to introduce closed cockpits as soon as possible after the death in the United States of IndyCar driver Justin Wilson.

Once a strong supporter of cockpits remaining open, the 2009 world champion said Wilson's fatal crash last month had forced a change of mind.

"This (death) just shouldn't happen at this time in motorsport. It's not the 1970s, you know, we should know better," the McLaren driver said at the Italian Grand Prix on Thursday.

"I was one of many drivers that said, 'This is open cockpit racing, it should stay as open cockpit racing'. But I think we've all had enough now.

"It's time to do something serious about it, not just changing the headrest on the cars and things. I think you've got to get a canopy on the car of some sort. We can't have this happening as much as it has."

Button grew up racing go-karts against fellow Britons Wilson and Dan Wheldon - the double Indy 500 champion who was killed at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2011 - and said he was "devastated" by the latest fatality.

Wilson's death came only a month after many Formula One drivers had attended the funeral of Frenchman Jules Bianchi, who died in July of serious head injuries suffered in a Japanese Grand Prix crash last October.

"Since Henry Surtees, there have been a lot of head injuries that ended up with death, so it's got to be changed," said Button.

Surtees, the son of Britain's 1964 world champion John, died in a Formula Two race at Brands Hatch in 2009 when he was hit on the helmet by a loose wheel.

Formula One's governing body, the FIA, is to carry out more tests this month on devices that could protect drivers' heads.

However previous tests have failed to get around obstructed vision and the difficulty of extracting a driver in an emergency from a closed cockpit.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2015, with the headline 'Improve cockpits, says Button'. Print Edition | Subscribe