FIA fighter jet canopy impact test

F1 cars keep getting safer every year. Their carbon-fiber tubs have been strengthened to the point that they're nearly indestructible. Helmets and the HANS neck supports they're attached keep improving. Despite all this, there's still one principal weak point inherent to the design of a grand prix racer: the open cockpit.

If you've ever sat back and wondered why F1 cars stick with open-cockpit designs when drivers are injured – or narrowly escape injury – by airborne cars (or parts thereof) striking their helmets, you're not alone.

The FIA Institute is testing designs to potentially outfit future F1 racers with closed cockpits. The question is, what kind? Many Le Mans prototypes (like the Audi R18 and Peugeot 908) use curved polycarbonate windshields, but in its research, the FIA Institute also looked to fighter jets for their canopy designs. Follow the jump to see what they discovered.