The FIA are correct to Introduce the Halo Safety Device

Hopefully the Master Chief wasn’t on Twitter last night, because the level of vitriol against Halo was enough to send him packing back to reach and give up on his fight against the forerunners/covenant/flood as many declared “We don’t want your protection!”

So the FIA have made the decision to introduce the Halo safety device from next season and have been slated for destroying F1 for many, not reconciling 90% of the teams dictatorially and embedding the device into the regulations in a knee-jerk fashion.

MONZA, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 02: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing sits in his car fitted with the halo during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 2, 2016 in Monza, Italy.

 

The Halo device hasn’t been in the news for a while, with Sebastian Vettel testing the aeroscreen more recently to some quite negative results. The aeroscreen massively distorted the view of the track ahead, and flecks and dirt on the dry run distracted Vettel massively, signifying some huge flaws with the design. How the aeroscreen would work in the rain generates more safety concerns than it resolves.

The failure of the Aeroscreen is why I believe the FIA have gone back to and pushed forward the introduction of the Halo safety device from 2018. Whilst the device isn’t the most visually pleasing at the moment, the FIA has stated several times that the design will be altered through working alongside the teams, nullifying the angry users online who are holding up cockpit images of the early design and screaming “what have you done!”

Another point that seems to have been overlooked almost completely is that back in 2016, The strategy group voted in favour of a head protection device being introduced for 2018/2019 with no votes in opposition. The sport was going in this direction, whether you liked it or not, and the signs have been there for a while. 90% of the teams don’t like the current design, which is fine, because there is the ambition and time to amend this ahead of next year.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – NOVEMBER 15: F1 President of the FIA, Jean Todt, Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Scuderia Toro Rosso, Fernando Alonso of Spain and McLaren Honda.

What is the point in bringing this safety device into the sport? I found it staggering to watch the mass hysteria on display yesterday, with fans publishing touching tributes towards the late Jules Bianchi earlier in the week suddenly joining the pack-mentality tantrum concerning the Halo device.

Formula 1 has always been a dangerous sport, and it will continue to be just that with a head protection system. Cars will still be incredibly fast, racing will continue to be closely contested and the drivers will continue to be heroic, the only difference being a small frame above the driver’s head.

The point is, if you are a fan of F1 because of the racing, the Halo device should be of little concern given that it won’t affect the racing whatsoever. If you’re triggered by a slight aesthetic decline, I would recommend you swap the grassy knoll trackside at Silverstone for a grand tour of Lamborghini dealerships, because aesthetics is all you’re after, right?

Renault Sport F1 Team’s British driver Jolyon Palmer tests the so-called halo cockpit protection device during first practice session of the Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix

The easiest thing right now would be to join the noise and criticise the FIA for what they have done, but the reason I refuse to do this, is because we don’t yet know what form the final product will look like heading into next season and accusing the FIA of being knee-jerk whilst knee-jerking isn’t great.

The introduction of head protection was backed by the entire strategy group, and I don’t have the audacity to disrespect Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull Racing and Williams with illusions of this ruining Formula 1, especially in an area in which many of those teams have lost drivers in the past. In some ways, the online reaction could serve as a catalyst for ensuring that the FIA works hard with teams to amend the appendage, but on this point, I don’t care about aesthetics, just that it does a job in ensuring that no more drivers die on the circuit. If that’s all you want to see, or the risk of such arouses you as a viewer, then you may be a fan of racing in some form, but you certainly can’t claim to be a fan of the drivers.

This is the primary reason behind my belief that the Halo system is the right move. It isn’t one for the fans, but the drivers. Liberty Media continues to take the sport in the right direction, and the pre-2017 naysayers who expected large gaps between teams and two-by-two racing were insanely incorrect. As a fan, I am much more interested in how the sport is moving to open up the paddock, festival-ise the sport and keep the racing on track as engaging and entertaining as it has been so far this season. Is a small apparatus put above a drivers head at the discretion of the guy risking his balls going to change all of that?