F1 to test new shield de­sign

The Star Early Edition - - MOTORING -

FER­RARI will trial a new trans­par­ent frontal pro­tec­tion cock­pit ‘shield’ in Bri­tish Grand Prix prac­tice at Sil­ver­stone this week­end.

The shield is an open canopy in front of the driver and made from poly­car­bon­ate, a tough but see-through ther­mo­plas­tic poly­mer. The aim is to pro­tect the driver’s head from fly­ing de­bris with­out ob­struct­ing his vi­sion.

The FIA has been fo­cus­ing on this con­cept rather than a pre­vi­ously tested ‘halo’ cock­pit pro­tec­tion sys­tem that was ex­ten­sively tested last sea­son to a mixed re­sponse from teams and driv­ers.

The re­ac­tion from some driv­ers at the Aus­trian Grand Prix on Fri­day showed that the FIA still had a way to go to win over the scep­tics.

“Looks pants (rub­bish) doesn’t it?,” said Re­nault’s Jolyon Palmer af­ter Reuters showed the Bri­ton an artist’s ren­der­ing of the shield, pub­lished on the FIA web­site.

“There’s a lot of prob­lems with it and I’d rather be able to have noth­ing there and see where I’m go­ing.

“You’re con­stantly get­ting muck com­ing off the cars in front and if you’re rac­ing with that, you won’t be able to see af­ter a few laps so you’re mak­ing your own safety is­sues then.”

Brazil­ian Felipe Massa, who suf­fered near-fa­tal head in­juries when he was hit on the hel­met by a bounc­ing spring in 2009 Hun­gar­ian GP qual­i­fy­ing, said he was re­serv­ing judge­ment un­til he had ex­pe­ri­enced it.

“I am to­tally on the side that we need to im­prove safety all the time,” he added. “But I think be­fore we try it, it’s very dif­fi­cult to com­ment.”

Cock­pit pro­tec­tion is seen as a key area fol­low­ing fa­tal­i­ties in other se­ries where driv­ers were hit by wheels and fly­ing de­bris. While the FIA said in Jan­uary that the safety ben­e­fit of the halo had been es­tab­lished, some lead­ing F1 fig­ures were wary about dra­matic changes to the look of the cars.

The FIA said the aim was to carry out a first full track test at Italy’s Monza cir­cuit in Septem­ber. Sil­ver­stone will al­low driv­ers to give ini­tial feed­back early in the de­vel­op­ment process, how­ever.

- Reuters

An artist’s ren­der­ing of the safety de­vice to be tri­alled this week­end.

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