Driv­ers not wild about ‘flip flop’ halo

Lauda and oth­ers crit­i­cise new F1 cock­pit pro­tec­tion sys­tem

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - REUTERS

FOR­MULA One’s de­ci­sion to in­tro­duce a ‘halo’ cock­pit pro­tec­tion de­vice next year is a mis­take, ac­cord­ing to for­mer cham­pion Niki Lauda.

The Austrian, who is non-ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of world cham­pi­ons Mercedes, told Ger­many’s Auto, Mo­tor und Sport that he recog­nised safety had to be im­proved where pos­si­ble.

How­ever a con­vinc­ing so­lu­tion had yet to be found to pro­tect driv­ers’ heads from de­bris.

“We tested the Halo, the Red Bull Aero­screen and Fer­rari’s Shield as a cock­pit pro­tec­tion. None has con­vinced 100 per­cent. You have to make the right de­ci­sion in such a sit­u­a­tion. The halo is the wrong one,” he said.

Lauda, a triple world cham­pion who re­tired from rac­ing in 1985 af­ter a near-fa­tal fiery crash in 1976, said the halo de­stroyed the “DNA of a For­mula One car”.

“The FIA has made For­mula One as safe as it gets. Also the dan­ger of fly­ing wheels is largely elim­i­nated, be­cause the wheels are al­ways more firmly at­tached. The risk to the driv­ers has be­come min­i­mal.

“We are just try­ing hard to get new fans for the sport with fast cars and get­ting closer to the spec­ta­tors, and now this is de­stroyed by an over­re­ac­tion.”

The gov­ern­ing FIA an­nounced last week that the halo would be in­tro­duced for 2018 rather than the trans­par­ent ‘shield’ tested at Sil­ver­stone on the week­end of the re­cent Bri­tish Grand Prix.

The halo, which is fixed to the car at three points in­clud­ing a cen­tral pil­lar in front of the driver that sup­ports a pro­tec­tive loop above his head, has been widely crit­i­cised on aes­thetic grounds.

Some have com­pared its ap­pear­ance to the toe strap of a flip-flop.

The FIA has de­cided to im­ple­ment the halo from next sea­son.

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