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FIA to Address Carbon Fibre Debris Dangers

  • Friday, 17th September 2004
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  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

Formula One’s world governing body – the FIA – will introduce new safety regulations for next season after receiving a unanimous agreement from teams.

The FIA was concerned after a number of recent serious accidents and moved to reduce the risks taken by drivers. In particular, carbon fibre shards were causing too many tyre failures in the aftermath of accidents, and many areas of external bodywork will be coated to prevent shattering.

Formula One has had several serious accidents caused by blowouts this year, with Germany’s Ralf Schumacher missing the last five races before Monza as a result of a big crash at Indianapolis in June, and Britain’s Jenson Button also suffering punctures at Spa in Belgium due to debris on the track.

Ross Brawn, Ferraris Technical Director said that Formula One’s governing body had asked teams to look at different ways of making cars’ bodywork to produce less debris in the event of an accident.

“”The first tests look very encouraging,”” Brawn said. “”Both ourselves and Williams have carried out experiments where we still use the same materials but we basically cover them with a very tough, high strength material like Xylon or Kevlar. And that seems to reduce the debris emission enormously. So you can smash a component like that but all the debris stays together.””

The FIA statement read that a meeting after Monza on September 12th was “very constructive” and that “the Formula One Technical Directors unanimously agreed to propose the following measures to the Formula One Commission and the World Motor Sport Council for introduction from the beginning of the 2005 season”.

Each wheel will be restrained by a tether system which is capable of absorbing more than four times the energy of existing tethers. This has been made possible by research carried out by the newly-established FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety into the development of metallic tethers, rather than the fibrous tethers used currently.

Research conducted by the FIA at the Transport Research Laboratory in the UK has demonstrated that an increase in the thickness of side headrests would offer significant safety benefits to drivers. The thickness of side headrests will therefore be increased from 75 to 100 mm.

Following a number of incidents where sharp shards of debris have been blamed for tyre damage, all front wing endplates, ‘barge boards’ and other turning vanes will be manufactured using outer skins of materials such as Kevlar which tests have shown can reduce debris by as much as 80%.


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