Charlie Whiting has confirmed that the FIA will announce its preferred driver safety device for 2017 by July.
Whilst the FIA, which is determined to introduce a driver protection device in time for next season, initially favoured the Halo, it is now believed to be giving the aeroscreen (the Red Bull concept) serious thought.
"The deadline that we mentioned last week was July 1," he told reporters in Sochi this morning. "It would be unreasonable if we didn't have a clear path by that time."
However, whilst the FIA is choosing between aeroscreen or Halo, Whiting admitted that in the face of criticism from drivers and fans, the sport's governing body is still dithering as to whether a device will be introduced in the first place, which in turn affects teams' preparations.
"Their chassis design is normally fixed by this time," he admitted. "It's only a small part of the chassis and it's not going to affect things like fuel volume and those big things, but it's still part of a complex design."
"Red Bull are going to run it (the aeroscreen) again in free practice in Spain and Monaco," he revealed. "This time we hope they will have sourced, and they are optimistic they can, some anti-glare coating for the inside as we understand it can be quite difficult where you have tall buildings, trees, low sun, and those sorts of effects that you will probably get in Monaco and Monza, where there are natural features. There will also be a coating for the outside that will repel rain and prevent things sticking to it."
Confirming that there remains much work to be done, Whiting admitted that research needs to be carried out to ensure that the device doesn't actually become the problem in certain circumstances.
"We have something called the free head volume," he said. "That is the space that has to be free to give movement for the driver's head in order that it doesn't make contact with it. At the moment this area is quite big and is causing a few problems, so what we are doing is some sled work with a dummy to try to simulate more precisely just how much room you need in order to make sure that the driver's head doesn't make contact with it as they are both substantial structures. The last thing you want is the driver's head to make contact with it.
"So that is the next phase of work, which I am told should be completed within two weeks. Both the Halo and aeroscreen need to satisfy the free head volume requirement, so we need to wait and see how that works first. It is too difficult at this stage to know which one, if any, will be impacted the most. So we will have to wait and see on that one.
"Ultimately, if they both reach the same level then it will be up to the F1 Commission to decide which way to go," he concluded.
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