The controversial Formula 1 halo cockpit safety device has been given a thumbs down by drivers who assessed the concept during free practice sessions throughout the course of 2016.
Auto Motor und Sport report that in a survey conducted by the FIA, seven of the 16 drivers canvassed for their opinions, regarding the halo, voted against the device, while five were in favour and four abstained.
FIA had earmarked 2018 as the season to introduce the cockpit protection system, which came to the fore after Manor driver Jules Bianchi succumbed to head injuries he sustained in a crash during the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
Since it broke cover a couple for years ago, the halo has divided opinions throughout the paddock, with many believing that the device goes against the ethos of the traditional open cockpit concept in Formula 1.
But FIA chief Jean Todt said, “Formula 1 is currently the safest category in motor sport, but there can always be small improvements that can be made.”
Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat revealed at the end of 2016 that drivers differed in their views of the halo, “It’s not very consistent. Sometimes it seems like most of the drivers are for it, and sometimes some are more neutral, but I haven’t been following the trend too much, it’s not my favourite topic.”
Others who tried the device commented:
Fernando Alonso: “When I tried the halo in Singapore, one of the things I noticed was getting out of the car is a little bit uncomfortable, where you have to put the feet and where you have to jump.”
Lewis Hamilton: “Apart from getting into the car, I didn’t notice much difference. I didn’t really notice it, apart from blocking my mirrors – I couldn’t see the rear wing.”
Nico Rosberg: “It doesn’t disturb me when driving. I could go fast straight away and even set the best time of the session with it this morning so I think that was a success. My opinion is that it represents a big step forward in terms of safety. Following the fatalities we have experienced in recent years in racing that halo would have saved lives, so we absolutely need it.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “First impression on the visibility test is positive. The structure does not hamper [visibility].”
Romain Grosjean: “As drivers we certainly do not want safety to stop improving, but we also cannot delete the DNA of Formula 1.”
Sebastian Vettel: “It was not great. There is quite a bit of impact in terms of visibility.”
Interestingly Lewis Hamilton was dead against the concept in March last year when he told reporters: “Please no! This is the worst looking mod in Formula 1 history. I appreciate the quest for safety but this is formula 1, and the way it is now is perfectly fine. If it is going to come in I hope we have an option to use it or not because I will not be using it on my car.”
But several months later his opinion had changed considerably: “Apart from getting into the car, I didn’t notice much difference. I didn’t really notice it, apart from blocking my mirrors – I couldn’t see the rear wing. I could run it this weekend if they allowed it.”