Halo high on agenda as Strategy Group meets


The controversial Halo device is one of the main issues on the agenda when the Strategy Group meets today.

While there are a number of issues up for discussion, it is the Halo driver protection device that will dominate the headlines.

First mooted in the wake of a number of motorsport incidents which put the issue of driver cockpit protection in the headlines, Ferrari ran with a mock-up in pre-season testing at Barcelona.

Whilst Red Bull worked on its own form of cockpit protection, the Aeroscreen, it was clear that the FIA favoured the Halo.

Since then the Halo has appeared again on both the Ferrari and Red Bull.

From the outset opinion has been mixed, in terms of teams, drivers and fans. On the one hand the purists argue that it spoils the aesthetics of the F1 car and compromises the very DNA of the sport - the danger - whilst on the other hand one only has to mention the names of Henry Surtees and Justin Wilson.

Meeting in Geneva today the Strategy Group, which comprises the Commercial Rights holder, the FIA and six teams ( Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes, Williams and Force India), will discuss whether the controversial device should be introduced in 2017.

If the Strategy Group gives its approval - and total unanimity is required - the matter would go on to the F1 Commission, where, again, total unanimity would be required.

However - and there is always a 'however' in F1 - whatever the decision today or at the F1 Commission stage, the FIA can force the issue through on safety grounds.

Indeed, FIA president Jean Todt could have bypassed the entire Strategy Group/F1 Commission stage by using such action and imposing the introduction of the device on safety grounds but has instead allowed the matter to be put up for discussion by those involved.

That said, there has been dissent among the drivers, who are also divided on whether the Halo should be introduced.

Jenson Button has asked why it is that the decision on whether the Halo should be introduced is being discussed by the teams when it is the drivers' lives that are on the line.

Last weekend, drivers were given a presentation by Charlie Whiting and safety director Laurent Mekies, which included video of the Aeroscreen, and an explanation as to why the FIA feels the Halo is the favoured solution.

As part of its drive to impress on the drivers the need for such a device, the presentation included images from previous accidents, including F1, GP2 and GP3, in which it was demonstrated how the Halo would have functioned. Drivers claim that some of the images and details given were exceedingly graphic.

It was enough to persuade Lewis Hamilton, previously a fierce critic of the device, the Briton subsequently telling reporters: "It looks terrible, but if one of us is going to have a 17% better chance of surviving in a serious incident..."

Interestingly, it is the team bosses who are the most vocal about the Halo, indeed the whole concept of driver protection, most notably Toto Wolff, whilst Christian Horner - for some strange reason - favours the Aeroscreen.

Furthermore, Bernie Ecclestone - and one should never discount his opinion or the weight it carries - is a fierce critic of the device.

Meanwhile, the drivers have to see what their bosses decide.

Also up for discussion today will be the seemingly increasing inconsistency as to certain rules and how they are applied, the crack down on track limits and radio communications being high on that particular list.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Hockenheim, here.

Article from Pitpass (http://www.pitpass.com):

Published: 28/07/2016
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