Vettel is not a Fan of the FIA’s latest safety measure: “The Shield”

Formula One Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel was given the chance to test the FIA’s new “Shield” safety concept – and he’s not the devices’ biggest fan.

The FIA has a fetish for safety. Certainly, as the regulating body of Formula One, safety is one of their primary concerns. But the organization hasn’t had the most elegant of track records when it comes to the implementation of their devices. Ever since Felipe Massa got knocked in the head by on-track debris back at the Hungaroring qualifying in 2009, the FIA has been looking for an answer to head protection that it could offer all F1 drivers – regardless of if they’ve asked for it or not. Which brings us to the Shield.

First out the door was the “Halo” concept – a design that was outright mocked and cast down by the majority of the drivers, fans, and technical staff alike. And rightly so. The “Halo” saw the equivalent of a half-circle propped up with a disgustingly intrusive vertical bar coming down right in front of the driver’s face. The “Shield”, in comparison, certainly wins out on the aesthetic front, but it didn’t have much competition to go against to begin with. While it resembles a sleek windshield when attached to an F1 car, the honorary tester, Sebastian Vettel, has been less than enthused with the product.

Vettel received the chance to test the apparatus at Silverstone during the opening practice session, and didn’t last very long before he asked for it to be removed – citing dizziness:

“I tried it this morning and I got a bit dizzy. The forward vision is not very good. I think it’s because of the curvature, you get quite a bit of distortion.

There was a lot of downwash down the straight, coming off the back of my helmet and pushing my head forward.

We had a run planned with it, but I didn’t like it, so we took it off.” – Sebastian Vettel

Vettel is the first driver to test the Shield properly, but is far from the first driver to knock it. The paddock appears to be split by those who want to let the FIA just do their job, and those that want to prevent the FIA from introducing any unnecessary additions to the car – believing that it ruins their aesthetic. .

With Vettel’s thoughts regarding the dizziness and downwash, there may be more issues surrounding the Shield than were first apparent – though these are not entirely unexpected, given that it was the first time it was properly tested by a driver. The notion of additional head protection for drivers is not a small issue, but the FIA would be wise to tread carefully regarding their supposed implementation for injury prevention, lest they create more problems for the sport than they fix.