Mixed reaction to Ferrari halo F1 cockpit
The introduction of a new cockpit-safety device intended to prevent more driver fatalities was met with a mixed reception after the “Halo” concept was tried on track by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen on Thursday.
Demands to increase driver safety have intensified following the deaths of Jules Bianchi and IndyCar driver Justin Wilson last year.
World champion Lewis Hamilton has hit out at Formula One’s new ‘Halo’ concept, describing it as the “worst looking” modification in the sport’s history.
But Hamilton, who initially told reporters he did not want to comment on the Halo, moved to clarify his position in a message posted to his Instagram account late on Thursday evening.
Alongside a picture of Raikkonen’s car with the Halo attached, Hamilton wrote: “Please no! This is the worst looking mod in Formula 1 history. I appreciate the quest for safety but this is formula 1, and the way it is now is perfectly fine.”
Meanwhile Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg hailed the device as a “massive safety improvement”.
Raikkonen used the three-pointed carbon structure on his installation lap on the third day of the second pre-season test in Barcelona before going on to set the fastest time of the winter once it was removed.
The Halo won’t be used for the upcoming season which starts at the Australian Grand Prix on March 20, but a meeting of the F1 Commission last week approved measures aimed at introducing it for the 2017 season.
However, Rosberg was the most demonstrative voice urging for the Halo to be passed into the sport’s laws.
“My opinion is that it represents a big step forward in terms of safety,” said the German. “Following the fatalities we have experienced in recent years in racing that halo would have saved lives, so we absolutely need it.”
However, the Halo’s aesthetic appearance as well as its ability to protect drivers was criticised.
“That looks even worse than I feared, in several respects,” former F1 driver and pundit Martin Brundle tweeted.
Ferrari, though, insisted the final version of the prototype would be more visually pleasing.
“This is a provisional structure made by Ferrari to test visibility,” a Ferrari spokesperson told Sky Sports.
“We think the final structure would be part of the car and hopefully will look better. Kimi said it was ‘okay’ in terms of visibility.”