It goes without saying that open wheel racing does just that, the driver is vulnerable to the elements and anything that should fly through the air at him. We have just heard of another open wheel racing car death, this time of Justin Wilson, racing in the IndyCar series in the States, he had a a brief time in F1.
His death was caused by flying debris from a car in front rather than a crash himself and this has once raised the question again about closed cockpits and is it the way to go forward?
In terms of what the motoring racing fans want, they would prefer open wheel to remain so in the vast majority of cases. There is already motoring racing where the driver is within a cockpit of some sort, but fans cannot deny that seeing the driving out in the elements is a better spectacle.
As was explained my Martin Brundle in an excellent TV article, that being enclosed within the racing car cause as many dangers a being open to the elements, especially for accidents such as fire or when a quick exit is needed, not to mention visibility. Having a screen that can mist up or blind you depending on weather conditions could also cause accidents, with a racing helmet the driving just pulls off another visibility strip.
Current Williams driver Massa had a serious head injury several year ago, when debris from an crashed car in front flew into his helmet, forcing him to miss all the rest of the season until he recovered, some think he never did in terms of competitiveness.
Jules Bianchi recently died, the first f1 driver (since Arton Senna in 1994), to a crash where his car went under a recovery vehicle attending another racing car. What is unsure is whether an enclosed cockpit would have helped Jules, or if it could have hindered emergency services. He remained in a coma for 10 months after the accident. Since his accident the virtual safety car system was introduced to prevent or reduce the likelihood of a high speed accident whilst other cars are still on the track. Had this been in place previously you could argue his accident would not have happened. So here is an example where other solutions to closed cockpits can be found.
So the debate goes on, but ultimately motor racing is an inherent dangerous sport and those chose this as a profession know the risks, but of course it can always be safer.
An idea of what an enclosed cockpit F1 Honda Mclaren car could look like.
So as the relevant safety boards look into these incidents, it is unlikely they will just look a closed cockpits. There may be other solutions that can have the same affect without enclosing drivers in to other potential risks.