Formula One: Button calls for safer, protected cockpits after death of Wilson

Jenson Button during the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix on Aug 21, 2015.
Jenson Button during the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix on Aug 21, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

MONZA, Italy (Reuters) - Jenson Button has called for Formula One to introduce closed cockpits as soon as possible after the death in America of British 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 70s, you know, we should know better," the McLaren driver told reporters 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.

"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."

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

Formula One's governing body, the International Automobile Federation (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.

Double world champion Lewis Hamilton agrees something has to be done.

"Sometimes, change is the way forward. I don't know if I'd like it. It would feel really strange if you had a canopy or a window over your head.

"But... we've had too many fatalities. While there have been a lot less than 20 years ago, it's still too many, we shouldn't have any."