F1 Implements the ‘Halo’ in 2018

Automologist ATHERTON reviews the new F1 rule. Now, this is something that I welcome wholeheartedly for F1 drivers and four-wheel racing ...

Automologist ATHERTON reviews the new F1 rule.

Now, this is something that I welcome wholeheartedly for F1 drivers and four-wheel racing in general. The much talked about ‘Halo’ cockpit protection system is a hotly debated topic for drivers and fans alike. FIA, the governing body, is said to want the ‘Halo’ system implemented in 2018, after it was pushed backed in 2017.

First and foremost, one must remember that safety is a huge issue for both drivers and fans. On the track, we have tyre barriers, immense run-off areas and safety systems to keep the driver in one piece. Racing is a high-risk sport, but it can be done in a safer way. This new rule does just that.

The decision whether to have it or not have been split down the middle, with former F1 driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, critically opposed to the idea; he told German broadcaster RTL, “If someone can’t handle the danger maybe you shouldn’t be racing. Everybody out there knows that risk is always a part of it. It is just part of being a racing driver. No one wants to see someone get hurt, but that’s just part of reality.”

However, F1 defending champion, Lewis Hamilton said, “It’s been talked about for some time so we knew it was coming. It’s a difficult one as when they introduced it, talked about it, they mentioned a 17 per cent improvement in safety and it’s difficult to really ignore that."

Mercedes' reserve driver, George Russell (above), said, "My vision was not restricted at all by the Halo, surprisingly.

But Hamilton also noted: “...the weight of the cars goes up, the cars are already way too heavy, we have these little brakes trying to stop this heavy car, I just hope they do a better job and bring the weight down so when they put this thing on it doesn’t get heavier and harder to stop.

“Also I think, we’ve all tested it, they should, for a couple of FP1s, [put it] on every single car and see how it goes, I don’t think it’s going to change their [the FIA’s] opinion. I think we’re moving towards a closed cockpit, I think that would look better, there are some real great concepts online of a closed cockpit.”

Fans have also voiced their reluctance to accept the new system as some said it obstructs their view of the driver. (Hello, can you really see the driver when he/she is wearing a helmet?)

Could this be a new design in the future?

Sir Jackie Stewart, former triple world champion, said the opposition to the halo system is the same when it was in the 60s, when he experienced backlash championing safety in Formula 1 back then. "My view is: if you can save a life... and if some of these people had been to as many funerals as I've been to and wept as much as I have and seen close friends die [they wouldn't object]. That's all finished because we've got technology that's taken away that. I'm afraid I don't have a negative [view] of the halo,’ he told Autosport.

Or perhaps this?

"Preventive medicine is considerably more important than corrective medicine. Corrective medicine is [also] considerably more expensive than preventive medicine. Henry Surtees got killed not by his wheel but by somebody else's. Well, that can happen any time. That was just bad luck - but why depend on luck?" Stewart added.

My take is that if there are safety measures to protect our beloved drivers while we watch them from the grandstand or our couch, then we get to witness the full glory of their racing for many years to come. How I wish this system was in place back then, which would have definitely help prevent the death of a host of drivers, as well as the greatest of them all, Ayrton Senna.

Image credit – autoweek.com; thisisf1.com; motorsport.com


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