The governing body of Formula One has confirmed that the 'Halo' cockpit head-protection system will be introduced in F1 cars starting 2018. The FIA has said that the new system will provide the best overall safety and that the decision was taken post evaluating a large number of devices over the past five years. The announcement was made less than a week after a transparent cockpit shield was said to be unusable at the British Grand Prix when Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel said that it made him feel dizzy after one lap. The shield was chosen by Formula One bosses post considering mixed reactions to the 'halo' during extensive testing last year. Although the halo was the only device that could successfully deflect a wheel fired at it at 240 kph and provided an unobstructed view, some drivers expressed concerns and said they were in favour of additional protection. The halo is a wishbone-shaped device that is fitted on top of the cockpit to provide head protection.
"We drivers respect the FIA's stand on safety and support its ongoing quest to make racing safer. Over recent decades, we have seen increasing speeds and every faster lap times and this ultimate racing quest is solely possible due to increasing safety. Equally, over the same period of time, we have seen an increase in popularity of our sport,” Alexander Wurz, chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, was quoted by the BBC.
"F1 is a role model for ever-increasing safety without jeopardising performance. While the halo solution might not be the most aesthetically pleasing for everyone, we drivers will nevertheless race and push as hard as we can on track, which is the key for F1 to continue its growth and popularity,” he added.
The halo had stirred a backlash from the drivers who opined that the protection system was 'plain ugly'. The FIA has assured that the design and features of the halo will be improved post considering inputs from the teams. Also, the FIA had committed to introducing additional cockpit protection in July 2016, however, the decision was delayed by a year.
F1 bosses had decided in April last year that the shield would be introduced in 2018, however, the tests conducted at Silverstone proved that it needed more work.
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With the next season closing in, the strategy group announced on Wednesday that they will push forward with the one device that does work - halo. Without elaborating, the rule-making committee said that studies will be carried out to assess improvement of the show.