Pininfarina Sigma F1 Concept: The F.1 that was born to be safe

This vehicle was built in 1969 to demonstrate how safe Formula 1 could be.


Currently, the F1 has safety as a priority. This can be seen with the naked eye in all their cars since from this year they are equipped with the Halo, a device developed by the International Automobile Federation to further protect the pilot inside the cockpit.

The turning point for making constant developments in this field was that Grand Prix of San Marino 1994 in which the Austrian lost their lives Roland ratzenberger and Brazilian Ayrton senna.

Pininfarina Sigma F1 Concept
The journalist Robert Braunschweig, editor-in-chief of the Swiss magazine Automobil Revue, was the promoter of the idea of ​​making an F.1 as safe as possible.

Of course, this new policy has not prevented tremendous accidents from occurring, which fortunately did not end in tragedy, like those of the Finn. Mika Hakkinen in the 1995 Australian GP, ​​that of the German Michael Schumacher at the 1999 British GP, that of the Polish Robert Kubica at the 2007 Canadian GP or the Spanish GP Fernando Alonso at the 2015 Australian GP.

But the search for a more secure F.1 is not something of the present time. In the mid-1960s the "young" category was as spectacular as it was dangerous, and that motivated Robert Braunschweig, editor-in-chief of the Swiss magazine Automobil Revue, to embark on an interesting project: create a car that had safety as a priority. Thus was born Pininfarina Sigma F1 Concept.

In June 1968, Braunschweig contacted the company Pininfarina and the designer Paulo Martin and commissioned them to build the vehicle. After several months of work, the concept was presented at the 1969 Geneva Motor Show and it caused a sensation since it was something totally different from what was seen back then.

Formula 1 1967
That's what Formula 1 cars were like in the late 1960s.

The journalist's initiative had the support of Ferrari. The Maranello house delivered a chassis of the model 312, a vehicle that the New Zealander drove in 1968 Chris Amon, the American Derek Bell, the Italian Andrea De Adamich and the Belgian Jacky Ickx (he won the French GP in Rouen-les-Essarts).

The Ferrari 312 was a conventional single-seater, typical of its time. With rear engine and a passenger compartment in central position, to whose sides the fuel tanks were located. It had the water radiator located in an advanced way, practically on the front end. It weighed a total of about 590 kilos.

The Scuderia also provided the 12-liter 3.0-horsepower V570 engine what did he use italian Ludovico scarfiotti to win at the 1966 Italian Grand Prix. Mercedes y Fiat they also joined the Braunschweig initiative and provided their technical advice.

Martin developed an enveloping concept while maintaining the characteristics of the 312, but separated the fuel tanks from the cockpit to protect the pilot from side bumps and the inevitable fuel spills that often ended in a fire.

Pininfarina Sigma F1 Concept
The vehicle had several deformable structures.

The Pininfarina Sigma F1 Concept had a chassis built in aluminum on two longitudinal central beams that further protected the cabin. It was built with two separate sectors: one at the front for the passenger compartment and one at the rear for the engine. The vehicle was also equipped with deformable structures at the ends to reduce the effect of any impact and the pontoons were reinforced. To avoid the consequences of a wheel-to-wheel battle, the tires were barely exposed.

The rear wing was brought forward and it was placed just behind the driver's head to fulfill an aerodynamic function and, in addition, to be a additional protection in the event of a rollover. While a low trunk was placed so that in the event of a side collision it does not reach the open area of ​​the passenger compartment.

The front part of the cockpit was protected with a Windshield similar to the Aero Screen developed by Red Bull and the rear-view mirrors were arranged in such a way as not to interfere with the frontal vision. The security system was completed with a XNUMX-point harness with included rider helmet clip. To help the car's visibility in adverse weather conditions, the rims, the side spoiler wings and the rear sector, equipped with a bumper, were painted with reflective colors.

Pininfarina Sigma F1 Concept
The rear wing was placed behind the passenger compartment to be an additional defense.

As part of the development process, two wooden models in scale 1: 5 for the wind tunnel. One was held by Ferrari and the other by Automobil Revue. While the car that was presented in Geneva is still in the possession of Pininfarina.

Although the vehicle never rolled, many of its solutions served as inspiration for concepts that were later applied in the construction of modern Formula 1 cars. Although it is clear that when it comes to security, nothing is ever said.

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Diego durruty

Journalist with 30 years of experience. Worked in magazines STROKE, The graphic, Coequipier y Only TC, on the Internet sites SportsYa!, e-driver.com y kmcero.com and on the radios Rock pop y Vorterix.com. He covered the Dakar rally for the German agency dpa. He currently drives Two Daring Guys, a car magazine that is broadcast on Tuesdays from 18 to 19 by RadioArroba.com; is editor of motorsport in Red Bull Argentina, columnist on the show WorldSport (AM Splendid) and in Surf & Rock FM.  He is also a teacher in SPORTS. Now you can read it on his blog: automundo.com.ar.

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