Ever since Jules Bianchi’s crash in 2014 it has been discussed whether there should be closed cockpits in F1. The latest design out is the ‘halo’ which was tested at Barcelona by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen on day three of testing.
It is thought the ‘halo’ will be introduced in 2017 along with other new rules, but this is the first time it has been seen out on a car since it was developed. The reason for the introduction is to keep the chances of severe head injuries down, after the death of Bianchi who suffered extreme brain damage after a collision in Suzuka two years ago, and the death of indycar driver Justin Wilson last year.
Kimi Raikkonen ran the ‘halo’ for two laps before it was taken off the car. Feedback has been mixed, however the majority of the opinions are negative. Martin Brundle, Sky F1 employee, tweeted, “That looks even worse than I feared, in several respects.” British racing driver Daniel Cammish tweeted saying, “I’m all for safety but the new Halo doesn’t appeal. Then again neither does F1 to anyone (any)more so it’s irrelevant anyway. #sinkingship” (touching on the idea that F1 is not for the modern age, see my article “F1, now and forever”).
In a poll on twitter Jon Noble, F1 editor for motorsport.com, found that 63% of the 998 voters hated the new concept. Autosport also did a pole and found that 54% hated it but 22% stressed safety was the priority.
With one of the top opposition comments being that the ‘halo’ disrupts the drivers view the independent motorsport website, F1 fanatic came back saying, “given how low the driver’s eye-line is, doubt the Halo obstructs that much”. After testing the ‘halo’ Raikkonen reported back to his team saying visibility was “ok”.
Another issue with the ‘halo’ is that drivers have difficulty getting in and out of the car which is a problem for more than one reason. One important aspect of F1 is that drivers can get in and out of the cockpit fast in case of a fire or if the car is stranded on track. More development is needed before it can be deemed safe for the halo to be put on the cars.
One of the most important things to consider is what the drivers think of the new ‘halo’. Nico Hulkenberg told motorsport.com, “It is just a personal thing. I just don’t like it. For me, it should be open. Single-seater racing, it was always open – and in my eyes I would like to see it remain open.”
Jenson Button has gone on record saying that if it’s making F1 safer then he is for it. Nico Rosberg has taken to social media to find out what his fans think but is yet to comment himself.
In a poll carried out on the Miss Motorsport twitter page it was found once again that the majority of F1 fans thought the new design was “horrible”.