Ferrari have developed this concept as part of their contribution to the debate about how the Grand Prix car of the future could look. Am not so sure about it, but like a wart, it may grow on me over time…
They are seeking feedback from fans so let ’em have it ! ;
One of my favourite contemporary F1 writers is Mark Hughes of ‘Motor Sport’, his view on what changes are likely in the next couple of years is worth reading;
Pininfarina Sigma Ferrari Safety Concept Car 1969…
Funnily enough when i first saw Ferraris’ concept it reminded me of the ‘Sigma Safety Car’ which was equivalently ‘way out’ at the time, mind you it was a running car not a computer image…and was very effective in showcasing technology which saved drivers lives, not an effort ‘to spice up the show’ which the car above is fundamentally all about.
The idea for the car was inspired by Dr. Michael Hendersons’ 1967 book ‘Motor Racing in Safety’. Dr Henderson is a Brit who moved to Australia in 1968. He is still a very active figure in CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport), he Chairs the CAMS ‘Australian Institute of Motor Sport Safety’, was recently appointed a Fellow of the ‘FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety’ and still races, the ex-Niki Lauda March 722 Ford a car he campaigned not so long ago.
He raced in the UK before moving to Oz establishing the ‘Traffic Accident Research Unit’ in New South Wales.
He continued to race in Australia, but it was his professional involvement in accident analysis and the promotion of safety features in cars, both on road and track which lead to writing his book and the development of the original six-point GQ/Willans safety harness which was to be used globally in motor sport at that time.
Joan Williamson wrote in ‘Retro Speed’…’His contribution to motor racing safety continued with his involvement in the Pinafarina/Ferrari Sigma Grand Prix – a race safety concept vehicle that demonstrated features now carried by all current Formula One cars’.
The Sigma, the name chosen by way of reference to a 1963 Pininfarina sedan safety project, was built in 1969 by Carrozzeria Pininfarina in cooperation with Swiss magazine Revue Automobiles’, editor Robert Braunschweig taking the lead role in the projects gestation and completion. Ferrari supplied its contemporary V12 FI engine, gearbox and other suspension and brake componentry.
Sigma was designed by Paolo Martin, Henderson flown to Europe to consult on the project. The car was designed as a safety prototype, never intended to compete but rather to showcase features to protect the driver.
I wrote an article about another of Paolo Martins’ designs for Pininfarina a while back, the Ferrari Dino Competitzione 206S;
Mercedes and Fiat engineers were also involved and F1 driver/journalist Paul Frere was recruited to test the car. The Sigma was a great looking racer with the benefit of hindsight, but ‘visually challenging’ in its day, as Ferraris’ latest offering also is.
The chassis has two compartments, one for the driver and one for the engine. Each of these had collapsible impact zones to protect the driver. Sigma bodywork largely enclosed the cars suspension and wheels having pontoons each side for protection and to prevent ‘intersecting wheel’ collisions.
The rear wing was moved forward and reinforced to double as a roll bar or hoop. The car had foam filled flexible fuel tanks, an automatic built-in fire extinguisher, six-point safety harness and even a head and neck support system thirty years before F1 adopted the HANS device.
A car well ahead of its time, but one which lead the way for modern safety features which have now become standard.
Two wooden 1:5 scale models were built to refine the concept, these are owned by Automobile Revue and Ferrari whilst the car, which made its debut at the 1969 Geneva Motor Show, is part of Pininfarinas’ collection and occasionally travels around the world as a motor show starlet.
Todays F1 is relatively safe despite the ferocity of some of the accidents of the last 25 years, in 1968 Jim Clark,(F2) Mike Spence,(Indy) Ludovico Scarfiotti (Hillclimb) and Jo Schlesser (F1) all died in racing cars.
Sigma certainly played its part in the long process of changes to circuit design and licensing, competition car design and materials adoption and driver apparel improvements to get to where we are today…where Ferrari’s design of the future can address style rather than substance…
Conceptual drawings on the journey to Sigmas’ creation.
‘Retro Speed’ Joan Williamson, Scuderia Ferrari, auta5p.eu