Wurz: Closed cockpits ‘the most logical choice’

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Grand Prix Drivers’ Association chairman Alexander Wurz has become the latest figure to support the drive for the introduction of closed cockpits to single seater racing, believing it to be “the most logical choice”.

The debate about closed cockpits and driver safety in single seater racing has been reignited in recent weeks following the death of IndyCar driver Justin Wilson at Pocono Raceway last month.

Wilson was struck on the head by debris from another car that had crashed and died one day later due to the severe injury that he had sustained.

Other accidents for Felipe Massa (2009), Henry Surtees (2009) and Jules Bianchi (2014) have also prompted many to call for the introduction of closed cockpits to single seater cars, where drivers’ heads are currently exposed.

Speaking to MotorSportsTalk, Wurz explained his involvement in the research into closed cockpits and expressed his belief that they would one day be introduced.

“I’ve been – me, personally, as the GPDA director – in the research group of the institute and we have looked into the canopy and everything,” Wurz said.

“I’m a big supporter of this idea. I always have been. I’ve been quite public a few years ago about it.

“And I think we’re all going to end up with the most logical choices to protect the drivers which is in the closed cockpit.

“It’s called ‘open wheel racing’ and not ‘open cockpit racing’. I think evolution will bring us there in the end.”

Wurz explained how the GPDA is continuing to push for improved safety standards in Formula 1 and global motorsport, with particular attention being paid to head and back injuries.

“It’s always in the spotlight and we’ve always pushed,” Wurz said. “We work very closely with the FIA institute on improving. But such tragic reminders such as Justin or Jules… just keeps accelerating the process.

“We still have a long way to go. We are a long way better than we have been, but it’s an ever-learning curve and currently full attention is on head and back injuries whilst until 15, 20, 30 years ago it was more you were breaking your legs when chassis were ripped apart etc.

“Now it seems we have to really pay attention to quite a few back injuries we have seen with impact forces and compression breaks, and obviously head injuries from Henry Surtees onwards to now Justin.

“So it’s definitely and area we need to look into, and we are looking into.”

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.