In closed cockpit debate, Hulkenberg says “it should be open”

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While Nico Hulkenberg has spoken out about closed cockpits coming to Formula 1 before, he’s reaffirmed that stance this week as 2016 testing kicks off this week and with the 2017 regulations needing to be finalized soon.

A “halo” protection semi-enclosure, which would shield the drivers’ eyes and helmet area with a clear visor but still open entry way, is considered one of the solutions going forward.

Speaking to Autosport during the initial test at Barcelona, Sahara Force India’s Hulkenberg cited tradition and history as the primary reason why he’d want to keep the cars fully open.

“It’s a personal thing. I just don’t like it [a closed cockpit]. For me it should be open,” he told Autosport.

Hulkenberg made his sports car debut last year with Porsche, racing the third Porsche 919 Hybrid coupe with Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber at FIA World Endurance Championship races at Spa and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. But he was ruled out of a return for 2016 once the European Grand Prix weekend at Baku was placed on the same weekend as Le Mans.

Not a ton of drivers have spoken out publicly either way about closed cockpits for open-wheel cars, although Sir Stirling Moss and Juan Pablo Montoya have rejected the idea.

AJ Allmendinger, who raced in Champ Car from 2004 to 2006 before a partial season return to IndyCar in 2013, is the most recent driver in North America to denote his preference for closed cockpits, telling assembled NASCAR reporters in Daytona last week the only way he’d return to open-wheel racing is with a closed cockpit.