UPDATE (4:45 p.m. ET): Although the FIA’s statement says the decision to implement “halo” in 2018 was unanimous, which is required under the rules, Autosport’s sources claim nine of the 10 teams, in fact, voted against the concept. The FIA, though, still was able to push the decision through on safety grounds.
ORIGINAL STORY: Less than one week after Formula One publicly debuted a cockpit “shield” concept at the British Grand Prix, the series officially is reversing course — again.
The “halo” will be featured on cars starting next season, the F1 Strategy Group announced Wednesday, according to NBC Sports. Mercedes-AMG Petronas designed the “halo” concept in 2016 and it was tested by Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull Racing later that season.
Fans and drivers initially weren’t sold on the device due to its impact on aesthetics and visibility, respectively, which is why its introduction was delayed until 2018.
“Following the unanimous agreement of the Strategy Group, in July 2016, to introduce additional frontal protection for Formula One and the repeated support from the drivers, the FIA confirms the introduction of the Halo for 2018,” the FIA said in a statement, via NBC Sports. “With the support of the teams, certain features of its design will be further enhanced.”
Photo via Red Bull Racing
Most were surprised by the FIA’s announcement, as it said in April that it saw more potential in the “shield”-style cockpit protection devices, such as the one Sebastian Vettel tested Sunday and Red Bull’s “aeroscreen” concept. But Vettel’s test likely was the reason it reverted.
The German driver complained that the “shield” made him dizzy, and ordered his engineers to remove it after just one lap.
“Having developed and evaluated a large number of devices over the past five years, it had become clear that the Halo presents the best overall safety performance,” the FIA’s statement continued.
Although the “halo” admittedly doesn’t harm visibility in the same way as the transparent plastic “shield,” but we still will have to wait to see how it impacts drivers during race starts. Based on pictures, it looks as though the central support beam and/or overhead loop potentially could make it difficult to see the lights.
Thumbnail photo via Scuderia Ferrari