Love it or loathe it, F1 has a halo

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

IT is safe to say that For­mula One’s clunky ‘halo’ head pro­tec­tion de­vice, the most ob­vi­ous nov­elty of the 2018 sea­son, has di­vided opinion.

Strong enough to sup­port the weight of a Lon­don dou­ble-decker bus, the promi­nent Tshaped struc­ture around the cock­pit is also ugly enough for Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff to want to take mat­ters into his own hands.

“I’m not im­pressed with the whole thing,” the Aus­trian de­clared at the launch of his team’s gleam­ing W09 car. “And if you give me a chain­saw, I would take it off.”

Con­cern has been ex­pressed that driv­ers might not get a clear view of the start light gantry, or over­head stop/go sig­nals in the pits, when they look up but few such wor­ries emerged dur­ing pre-sea­son test­ing.

“We’ve done some test­ing in the sim­u­la­tor... and it was no prob­lem on any cir­cuit with the start lights. You could al­ways see at least with one eye and that’s enough,” said Mercedes’ Valt­teri Bot­tas.

The halo, tested ex­ten­sively by the gov­ern­ing In­ter­na­tional Au­to­mo­bile Fed­er­a­tion (FIA) who also tried out al­ter­na­tives, is de­signed to shield a driver’s head from fly­ing de­bris and the dan­ger of be­ing struck by bounc­ing wheels.

Such pro­tec­tion has be­come a pri­or­ity since the deaths of driv­ers in other se­ries.

“It’s go­ing to save lives, no doubt,” said Wil­liams’ Cana­dian teenager Lance Stroll.

“The fact that our head was ex­posed be­fore at th­ese high speeds, god for­bid any­thing would hap­pen if a piece would hit us in the head.”

The look of the de­vice, fixed at three points with its cen­tral up­right in front of the driver’s vi­sion and an over­head loop, has been com­pared to the thong on a flip-flop beach san­dal.

Made of ti­ta­nium and weigh­ing in at around seven kilo­grams, plus fit­tings, the halo has been a trial for de­sign­ers who like to dis­trib­ute weight as low as pos­si­ble on the car.

A stan­dard part made by ex­ter­nal sup­pli­ers, teams are al­lowed to swathe the de­vice in an aero­dy­namic fair­ing and at­tach mini-wings of up to 20mm.

Im­me­di­ate draw­backs are that get­ting in and out has be­come trick­ier, partly be­cause of the ap­pendages on the cage-like struc­ture, which has also raised ques­tions about emer­gency ex­trac­tions.

Bot­tas said the FIA had made al­lowances for that in tests of driv­ers’ abil­ity to ex­tri­cate them­selves quickly. “I think it takes maybe three or four sec­onds more to get out of the car,” said the Finn. “To get in, it’s a bit more tricky but it’s OK.” – AFP

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