26 Aug 2015

FIA to carry out tests to help drivers' safety

11:40 am on 26 August 2015

Motor sports' governing body is to carry out more tests on devices that could protect drivers' heads from flying debris of the sort that killed British IndyCar racer Justin Wilson.

English driver Justin Wilson.

English driver Justin Wilson. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Former Formula One driver Wilson suffered severe head injuries at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania on Monday and died in hospital a day later.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has tested various solutions, including cockpits enclosed by a fighter jet-style canopy, since Brazilian Felipe Massa was hit on the helmet by a bouncing spring in Hungary in 2009.

While none have produced anything where the benefits clearly outweigh the disadvantages, new ideas have been put forward that might protect the driver without obstructing his vision or trapping him in the event of the car overturning.

An FIA spokesman said the new tests were planned before Wilson's accident and would take time.

Two new ideas, one from world champions Mercedes and comprising a 'halo' or hoop positioned above the driver's head, would be tried out.

The 37-year-old Wilson, a seven time IndyCar race winner, was struck by debris from another car during the closing stages of the race.

"This is a monumentally sad day for Indy Car and the motorsports community as a whole," said Mark Miles, the head of IndyCar.

"Justin's elite ability to drive a race car was matched by his unwavering kindness, character and humility - which is what made him one of the most respected members of the paddock.

Wilson's most recent Indy Car victory was in Texas in 2012.

British driver Justin Wilson.

British driver Justin Wilson. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

He enjoyed eight pole starts in 174 races. He competed in Formula One in 2003 with Minardi and Jaguar, and his initial F1 points were scored that year in the US Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

He co-drove a Michael Shank Racing sports car entry to the overall victory in the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2012.

Wilson is survived by his wife, Julia, and two daughters.

Another British driver Dan Wheldon was the last driver to die in an Indycar event in 2011.