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Drivers divided on Halo

NEWS STORY
27/07/2017

Speaking for the first time since the FIA's decision, it is clear that the drivers remain divided on the introduction of the Halo device.

"Overall, you need to understand it is a decision that helps us in the car in case something goes very wrong," said Sebastian Vettel, a director of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association at today's FIA press conference. "I can understand if people say it doesn't belong on an F1 car, but times are changing.

"If you offer the system and the protection it gives us to Justin Wilson, he would take it and we would take it to save his life," he added, referring to British IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, who was killed at Pocono in 2015 when hit by debris.

"I don't like it," said Max Verstappen in the second part of the press conference, "but of course at the end of the day you have to respect the decision of the FIA.

"I think since we introduced a Virtual Safety Car, that has reduced a lot of risk of speeding under the yellow flags in the race," the Red Bull driver continued. "Also, with the wheel tethers they are quite strong at the moment so you won't lose a wheel very easily, and when there are parts flying around the car it isn't really going to protect you. So, I don't really understand why we should need it."

Asked if the Halo will remove some of the excitement from the sport, he replied: "I think as soon as I have that thing on my car, I don't like it. So the excitement is already gone before I am sitting in the car."

"If we could go back in time and save some of our colleagues' lives, we would be all happy," argued Fernando Alonso. "That is the first and only thing we should talk about.

"The aesthetics, I don't care too much," he admitted. "But F1 has changed so much even from my first year in 2001. The cars are so different, the height of the nose, the height of the cockpit area. Forty to fifty years ago they did not have seat belts.

"For me there is no question, I'm happy to implement any extra head protections," he insisted. "If the FIA studies and develops the halo, if this is the most effective way to protect the head of the drivers, it is more than welcome."

"There is that element of aesthetics, the looks," said Nico Hulkenberg. "It will protect against a freak accident, one out of a million that happens. The tethers that keep the tyres attached get better every year, giving even less chance of a tyre flying around. I'm not sure this additional protection is necessary because the other areas keep improving and it compromises the looks a lot."

"It takes away some of the passion that F1 is talking about," said Kevin Magnussen. "When you look at the car and it is ugly, F1 cars aren't meant to be ugly. That is the reason that a Ferrari is more exciting than a Mazda. It is something to do with passion. If it looks s**t, it is s**t!"

"Personally I think it was a sad day for Formula 1 when it was announced," said teammate Romain Grosjean, recently elected director at the GPDA, "and I am still against it

"I don't think it's got a place in Formula 1," he continued. "As a GPDA member and director, as a driver, I need to thank the FIA for all the research because the research has been pretty strong, the Halo is a strong device against a lot of cases.

"There are occasions where it can get worse, which I am not particularly fond of. There are a few problems that we may have that we haven't thought of, seeing the starting light on the grid, no one has tried that. They're always different, they're always in a different place, seeing the flags on the side and things like that. So we need to see a bit more of that."

"This will be the end of Formula 1 as we know it, with an open cockpit," added Jolyon Palmer. "I think it's an over-reaction to problems in other series. Since 1994 there's been one fatality in F1, which is tragic, but the Halo wouldn't have stopped it."

"We are moving towards a closed cockpit," said fellow-Briton, Lewis Hamilton. "That would look better. There are some great concepts online with closed cockpits.

"When you think about the things that have happened with drivers being hit on the head, it is kind of crazy the head is almost the most precious part of the body and it is exposed."

Check out our Thursday gallery from Hungary, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Chris Roper, 28/07/2017 11:13

"The argument for the Halo is that it would have saved Justin Wilson and Henry Surtees but neither of them were driving F1 cars.

Henry Surtees was killed at Brands Hatch on 19 July 2009 in a GP2 (F2) car, so that at least is within their jurisdiction even if the track is not f1 certified.

Justin Wilson was killed in an Indy car at Pocono Raceway on 23 August 2015, which is not even an FIA sanctioned sport.

If they were identical to F1 cars, and on the same circuits, I would agree - but to force an unpopular "Feature" on such thin evidence is just making excuses for an administrative blunder."

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