Racingdo have cars roofs
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