Formula 1 drivers divided over halo


The FIA has pushed through the controversial Halo cockpit safety device which will be mandatory on cars in 2018, the decision has not only split the opinions of Formula 1 fans but also divided drivers into two camps: those for it and those against it

Although he initially called it the worst F1 invention ever, triple F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has softened his stance and accepts it’s introduction based on the safety figures provided to him by the FIA.

Hamilton told reporters ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, “There’s been talk of it for some time now, so we knew it was coming. It’s kind of a difficult one because when they told us about it last year they mentioned there was a 17 per cent improvement in our safety and it’s difficult to really ignore that.”

“It definitely doesn’t look good – we’ve already said that and we know that. On my side, on the drivers’ side, it doesn’t look great and also the weight of the car goes up.”

“The car is already way too heavy. We’ve got these little brakes trying to stop this heavy car, so I just hope they do a better job and bring the weight down so that when they put this thing on it’s not actually getting heavier and harder to stop.”

“We’re moving towards a closed cockpit. That would look better. There are some really great concepts online of a closed cockpit and when you think about the things that have happened, with drivers being hit on the head, it’s kind of crazy that still today our head, almost the most precious part of our body, is exposed.”

“I definitely don’t argue against it, but also Formula 1 needs to continue to step forward,” added Hamilton.

Latest opinions among drivers, regarding the Halo device, are varied:

Sebastian Vettel (who tested the shield concept at Silverstone) said: “The last Halo test I did was in Abu Dhabi last year and for sure you need to get used to it, but at least it didn’t impact on the vision so I think that was the biggest difference [between the Halo and the Shield]. I think it’s a decision that helps us in the car in case something goes very wrong. For sure, if you look at Formula 1 and the way cars look I can understand people who look and say it doesn’t belong on an Formula 1 car. On the other hand, times are changing, and we’re moving forward. It has the power to give us additional protection, offer that to Justin Wilson some time ago and I think he would take it and I think we would all be happy to take it to help save his life. We can’t turn back the clock but knowing that something is there that helps us in certain scenarios – it would be stupid and ignorant to ignore.”

Fernando Alonso: “This device can help in many of the fatal accidents that we have had in the last 10 or 15 years, that has been proved by the FIA. If we could go back in time and save our colleague’s lives we would be happy. That’s the first and only thing we should talk about. The aesthetics, I don’t care about that too much to be honest. Formula 1 cars have changed so much, even from my first year in 2001, the cars are very different. I’m happy to implement any head protection for next year. If the FIA study and develop the Halo, and this is the most effective way to help the drivers, it’s more than welcome in my opinion.”

Nico Hulkenberg: “I’m still going to race – I won’t retire, but I was never a big supporter of the Halo and the additional head protection and I’m still not. Obviously there is that element of the aesthetics, the looks, and it doesn’t look pretty, for sure. We are protecting against a freak accident that is one out of a million. Security and protection on the cars gets better every year, and the improved wheel tethers give even less chance of a tyre and heavy things flying around. I’m not sure this additional protection is necessary because all the other areas are improving and we’d compromise the looks quite a lot.”

Max Verstappen: “I don’t like it. But of course at the end of the day you have to respect the decision of the FIA. I think since we introduced the Virtual Safety Car, that reduced a lot of risk when you’re speeding under the yellow flag in the race. Also, the wheel tethers are quite strong at the moment so I don’t think you will lose a wheel very easily. And when there are parts flying around from the car it’s not really going to protect you. I don’t really understand why we should need it.”

Sergio Perez: “I’m in favour of it because whenever it has to do with safety, safety has to come first. If we had the Halo by now, in the last six or seven years it would have saved a life so it’s worth it. I think once we implement the Halo the teams will improve, I think the Halo needs a lot of work right now but I’m sure the system will be improved a lot. We have a lot of clever engineers in F1 and now all the teams know it will be in place for next year, I believe that they will improve it a lot.”

Kevin Magnussen: “I’m against it. I don’t think it’s what Formula 1 is about. I think there should be a limit or at least a more clever way to improve the safety, I don’t think the Halo is the right way. And in general, I don’t agree that safety is always number one, I think there is a limit where it gets too safe to be exciting. I think part of the reason Formula 1 is popular is because of the element of danger. It’s moved on huge amount in the last 30 years and that’s been very good but I think its safe enough now where I can say its exciting and it feels right to go racing. We could always make it more safe, we could make the cars go maximum 80km/h, and it would be completely safe but it would be very boring. You can always make it safer but you will make it less exciting, and that’s my problem with it. It takes away some of the passion that Formula One is all about. When you look at the car it’s ugly. Formula One cars aren’t ugly, they’re not meant to be ugly. That’s the reason that a Ferrari is more exciting than a Mazda, it’s something passionate and if it looks sh*t, it is sh*t.”

Marcus Ericsson: “I think its positive. Safety should be prioritised and I think the FIA has done a really good job to look into this. If this is the best solution at the moment, I think it’s a no-brainer to go for it for next year. If that can save someone in the future then I think it’s great. I tested it last year and when I drove with it I didn’t really notice it at all. It maybe it doesn’t look pretty but I think it’s something we can get used to. Always when there’s big changes in F1, it doesn’t look so pretty at first but then people get used to it, and I think it’s going to be the same thing with the Halo.”

Stoffel Vandoorne: “Aesthetically it’s not the nicest thing we’ve put on the car and I think a lot of people agree with that. We’ve been pushing to improve cockpit safety and head protection and I think the FIA have done lots of investigations on what would be the best solutions. For them, this is the best solution so I don’t think it’s a big surprise to see it on 2018 on the cars.”

Big Question: Does Formula 1 need the Halo?