New side impact protection system for 2014

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24 June 2013 by Ryan Wood

A new side impact protection system developed by Marussia and optimised by Red Bull, will become a standard safety feature in 2014.

A year-long collaboration between the FIA's Institute, Marussia, McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull has resulted in the design of a new side impact structure which should reduce the potential for injury when a Formula 1 car is involved in an accident at an oblique angle - such as that suffered by Robert Kubica in 2007.

Marussia came up with an initial design based on an evolution of the current tube system, but using high-performance carbon fibre with a bespoke external and internal geometry and precise layup configuration.

Instead of shattering upon impact, the tubes progressively crush to decelerate the car. During the test, the new structure was able to absorb nearly 40kJ of energy, under both a normal and oblique anle of impact - a significant increase on the current design.

It will become a standardised safety feature in all F1 cars starting in 2014, though how the system is implemented is up to the individual team, according to Red Bull's head of engineering Paul Monaghan.

"The tube has a common specification but how teams put it in their cars is entirely their business," he explained in the latest edition of the FIA's AUTO magazine.

Not only does the system improve safety, it will also reduce the cost of crash testing as the design of the system will be standardised in the regulations, rather than leaving teams to design their own which may require multiple tests before it meets FIA requirement.