FIA consider forward roll hoops
The FIA are investigating the possibility of employing forward roll hoops on Formula One cars for additional safety.
Motor sport's world governing body has been looking into ways to protect the exposed heads of drivers in open cockpit cars since the incidents involving Felipe Massa and Henry Surtees in 2009.
Surtees was killed by a bouncing wheel that had become detached from another car in a Formula Two race at Brands Hatch on July 19.
Six days later Massa was struck on the helmet by a spring that had worked loose from the car of fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Massa required life-saving surgery, which included the insertion of a titanium plate in his skull, and he missed the remainder of that year before returning to action in 2010.
The FIA have since looked at polycarbonate windshields and closed-cockpit canopies, although in tests neither have proved ideal.
The roll hoop, however, has proven more durable and could yet be introduced into F1, although these remain very early days.
Speaking to the FIA's in-house magazine IQ, FIA Institute technical advisor Andy Mellor said: "The roll hoop basically did a very good job.
"It was able to keep a wheel away from a driver's head. We tested it both by firing the wheel down the centre of the car, and also coming at it from an angle.
"The impact deflated the tyre during both tests. We tend to think that's a good thing. It means the wheel doesn't bounce as much. It stops much more quickly if you can deflate the tyre."
With more research required before a definitive proposal can be forwarded to F1's Technical Working Group, Mellor added: "We're not at all looking at final solutions as such.
"At this stage it's almost pure research, which we need if we're to understand what the loads are in such impacts.
"The work is absolutely exploratory and we are beginning to understand the mechanisms in order to protect a driver's head in this kind of impact.
"This is the next step in a very detailed process."