Massa and Alonso open to closed cockpit trials in F1

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In the wake of Jules Bianchi’s accident at last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa have both come out in support of a possible test for closed cockpits in Formula 1 to improve driver safety.

Bianchi sustained severe head injuries at Suzuka after crashing into a recovery vehicle in the final few laps of the race. He remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital in Japan.

The accident has left the paddock in a state of shock and sadness, with all of its thoughts and support going to Bianchi and his family at this difficult time.

It has also raised the question about closed cockpits being introduced to Formula 1, which has traditionally been an open-canopy series throughout its history.

Williams technical chief Rob Smedley explained to Autosport earlier this week that could easily be implemented in F1 to try and improve safety standards, and both Alonso and Massa backed a trial of the innovation.

“I probably tend to agree to at least check and try or test the idea,” Alonso said. “We are in 2014, we have the technology, we have aeroplanes, we have had many other samples that they use in a successful way so why not think about it?

“All the biggest accidents in motor sport over the last couple of years have been head injuries so it’s probably one part where we are not at the top of safety.

“Even in my case, in 2012 at Spa, I could probably have died there in corner one if it had been 10 centimetres closer to my head. If the technology is there and available, and there is the possibility, I would not exclude it, for sure.”

Massa was just as receptive, having himself suffered a severe head injury after being struck by a suspension spring during qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.

“I totally agree with what Fernando said, so I think it would be interesting to try, it would be interesting to work on that possibility,” Massa explained. “Definitely, for my accident it would have been perfect. Maybe for Jules, I don’t know.

“But I think maybe it could have been interesting for so many different types of accident, including the one I had, but I totally agree with Fernando.

“I think it could be an option and we will see when we could try something or see something to understand if it’s positive or not, but I totally agree with him.”

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.