Reaction: Formula 1 drivers on halo device

Reaction: Formula 1 drivers on halo device

27 July 2017 – Formula 1 drivers were quizzed about the planned introduction of the halo head protection device for the 2018 season during media day at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Following early comments made by Grand Prix Drivers' Association Director Romain Grosjean, GPUpdate.net has gathered a selection of other opinions.

For the halo

Sebastian Vettel:
"The halo test I did was last year in Abu Dhabi, and for sure you need to get used to it, but at least it didn't impact on vision. Obviously there's been a lot of talk as I got it. Overall you need to understand that it's a decision that helps us in car in case something goes very wrong. For sure if you look at Formula 1, the way Formula 1 cars look and so on, I can understand if people say that it doesn't belong on a Formula 1 car. On the other hand, I think times are changing, you are moving forward. If you offer the system as it stands, with the power it has to give us additional protection… offer that to Justin Wilson, sometime ago, then I think he would take it, and we would all be happy to take it, to help save his life. We can't turn back clock, but knowing that something is there that helps us in certain situations, it would be ignorant and stupid to ignore. Overall it's supposed to help us, so that's what we need to remember. With aesthetics, it's always difficult to please everybody, but I think the halo system we saw last year will probably not be the one we see next year, the year after. It's one of those things where maybe they start off not so good looking and actually they're not so bad."

Fernando Alonso:
"I think first is the safety. If this device can help in many of the fatal accidents that we had in the last 10-15 years, we are all happy to implement the device. If we could go back in time and save lives we would all be happy, so that's the first and only thing that we should talk [about]. With the aesthetics, I don't care too much, to be honest. Formula 1 has changed a lot. From my first year in 2001 to now, the cars are very different; the height of the front nose, the height of the cockpit to protect the helmet area. 40 or 50 years ago they didn't have seatbelts and when seatbelts were implemented there was not any debate. For me there is no question. I'm happy to implement any head protection, extra head protection for next year. If the FIA studied and developed the halo, and this is the most effective way to protect the head of the drivers, this is more than welcome, in my opinion."

Sergio Pérez:
"I'm in favour of it. Safety always comes first. If we had the halo now, probably over the last six or seven years it would have saved at least a life. I think once we implement the halo the teams will improve it. It needs a lot of work, but I think that it will be improved a lot. We have very clever engineers in Formula 1 and now that all the teams know that it will be in place next year I believe that they will improve it a lot."

Marcus Ericsson:
"I think it's positive. Safety should be prioritised. I think the FIA has done a good job to really look into this. If this is the best solution at the moment then I think it's a no-brainer to go for it for next year. If it could save someone in the future I think it's great. I tested it last year and I didn't really notice it at all, so that's a good thing that it's not going to change anything when you drive, you'll have the same feeling. It maybe doesn't look the prettiest, but I think it's something we'll get used to. Always when there are big changes in F1 it doesn't look so pretty at first, but then people get used to it, and I think it's going to be the same thing with the halo."

Against the halo

Max Verstappen:
"I don't like it. Of course, at the end of the day, you have to respect the decision of the FIA, but I think since we introduced the Virtual Safety Car, that reduced a lot of risk when you are speeding under yellows flags in the race. Also, the wheel tethers are quite strong at the moment, so I don't think you will lose a wheel very easily. And when there are parts flying around it's not really going to protect you, so I don't really understand why we should need it."

Kevin Magnussen:
"I'm against it. I don't think it's what Formula 1 is about. I think there should be... a more clever way to improve the safety. I don't think the halo is the right way. In general, I don't agree that safety always is number one, I think there is a limit where it comes too safe to be exciting. I think part of the reason Formula 1 is popular because of the element of danger. I think it's moved on huge amounts in the last 30 years, and that's been very good, but I think it's safe enough now that it's exciting and it feels right to go racing. We could always make it more safe, we could make the cars go a maximum of 80km/h, but it would be very boring. You can always make it safer, but you will make it less exciting."

Nico Hülkenberg:
"I'm still going to race, I won't retire! But I was never a big supporter of the halo or the additional head protection and I'm still not. It's not my decision, it's the FIA making the safety rules and requirements. It's that element of aesthetics, the looks, it doesn't look pretty, for sure. It will protect [against] something... a freak accident, one out of a million. But we have security and the protection of the cars is getting better. These tethers that keep the tyres get better and better, so there's less chance of a tyre and heavy things flying around. I'm not sure that this additional protection is necessary, because all the other areas keep improving and we will compromise the looks quite a lot."

Jolyon Palmer:
"I think it's a mistake. There's no coming back from it sadly; this will be the end of F1 as we know it with an open cockpit. It's an overreaction to problems in other series. Since 1994 there's been one [driver] fatality, which is tragic, but the halo wouldn't have stopped it, so the halo would have stopped no death in F1 in 23 years. Because of an IndyCar incident, F2 incident, different tracks, different safety measures, we're introducing something that changes the whole tradition and history of it. I think it's the wrong move."

Neutral views

Esteban Ocon:
"All the drivers were in favour of the halo, or not the halo, but the solution to bring safety, and in that aspect we can't complain now that we have something for more safety. For sure, it's not the most aesthetic one, and not a fantastic solution, but it's the best the FIA has, and we're happy the FIA works for safety. For sure in the future if there's a better solution everyone will be happy to get it."

Pascal Wehrlein:
"It's positive that it's safer for us. I think what everyone dislikes about it is how it looks. The cars this year look fantastic compared to previous years, much faster and more aggressive, and it seems like with how the cars look everything is going in the right direction, but then the halo is something not so positive for the look… I think the main point for the FIA was to improve the safety, and the halo is doing that. We have to look on the positive side that it's safer, and on the negative side that it looks worse."

Stoffel Vandoorne:
"I think aesthetically it's not the nicest thing we've put on the car and I think a lot of people agree with that. We've been pushing to improve head protection, the FIA have done a lot of investigations into what would be the best solution, trying a couple of different solutions, with the screen being tested as well. I think for them, that [the halo] was the best solution. I don't think it's a big surprise to see it in 2018 on the cars."

Lance Stroll:
"I have ever driven with it. I know a lot of drivers have, but I don't know what it looks like from inside the cockpit. If it makes the car safer and if the drivers are happy with visibility then I don't see why we shouldn't use it."

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