Geneva, Monday: The FIA have unveiled new plans for the structural impact testing of Formula One cars, as revised safety regulations mean that prospective entrants to the F1 world championship will need to pass ever-more stringent crash tests to be allowed to compete.
In a brand new approach to impact testing, which was previously done on FIA-approved testing rigs in the teams’ factories, the FIA have agreed a deal with the European atomic research group CERN to use the underground Large Hadron Collider as a venue for future F1 crash tests.
The LHC is a particle accelerator located in a 27-kilometre-long tunnel under the Franco-Swiss border, in which subatomic particles are excited to high speeds and smashed together to observe what comes out. The FIA plan to use the tunnel to accelerate F1 cars to high speeds and smash them together, to observe how well the cars stay together.
“Obviously this is an expensive, and some would say needless, process, given the rarity of head-on collisions in Formula One and the limited relevance of a circular circuit to F1 racing,” an FIA spokesman said. “But we are confident that any car capable of surviving such an impact would easily be safe enough to race in F1, even with someone like Romain Grosjean at the wheel.”
One of the benefits to F1 of using the LHC is that the subatomic research is only carried out at intervals throughout the year, with the rest of the time being devoted to refining the equipment and repairing damage. During this extended downtime it is imagined that the F1 testing could take place.
Surprisingly no-one has yet volunteered to drive the cars as they are being tested, though some sources in the FIA are telling us that Nelson Piquet’s immunity from punishment in the recent “Crashgate” case may soon be revisited.