Rac­ingdo have cars roofs

F1 Racing - - F1 20 -

Rac­ing cars do not have doors – but it seems they do now have roofs, be­cause chances are that as you read this, the de­ci­sion to man­date over­head cock­pit safety struc­tures in F1 from 2017 will al­ready have been made. It is ar­guably the most fun­da­men­tal and most con­tro­ver­sial change in the en­tire his­tory of F1 and open­wheeler rac­ing – but is it a nec­es­sary and long-over­due devel­op­ment, or is it a mis­guided and fu­tile at­tempt to elim­i­nate even the slight­est pos­si­ble risk?

It’s hard to find any­one who re­ally likes it. Some are vo­cif­er­ously against it, claim­ing it is an affront to the very essence of For­mula 1 and open­wheeler rac­ing. Even for those in favour, it’s mostly only a grudg­ing ap­proval, a luke­warm ac­cep­tance that the Fer­rari-de­vel­oped, wish­bone-shaped F1 cock­pit driver safety enclosure, the so-called ‘Halo’ de­vice, has be­come a nec­es­sary evil.

It also looks like it’s an in­evitabil­ity, be­cause the FIA ap­pears to be pre­pared to ram through the Halo on the over­rid­ing grounds of safety, no mat­ter what the teams or any­one else thinks.

It is a cu­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion. On the sur­face the whole thing seems il­log­i­cal: the haste with which the FIA is push­ing ahead with the Halo is mys­ti­fy­ing. Af­ter all, Fer­rari’s first pro­to­type of the con­cept was un­veiled only a mat­ter of months ago. It is yet to be ex­haus­tively eval­u­ated; there are im­por­tant ques­tions still to be an­swered.

We are talk­ing here about a very big change. The open cock­pit of a rac­ing car is some­thing we’ve al­ways ac­cepted as a defin­ing essence of open­wheeler rac­ing. It’s the time-hon­oured de­lin­eation be­tween sin­gle-seaters and tour­ing/ sports cars: as the cliché goes, rac­ing cars do not have roofs and doors.

Safety con­cerns aside, a mat­ter of a few months does seem to be an in­or­di­nately short con­sul­ta­tion process for a de­ci­sion that rep­re­sents such a fun­da­men­tal change to F1.

But the Halo may be­come a self-ful­fill­ing proph­esy. Af­ter hav­ing cam­paigned so vig­or­ously for it, hav­ing put it out there for pub­lic dis­cus­sion, the FIA now must be surely

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