F1 hopes halo effect will protect racers

PARIS • Formula One cars will look radically different next season after the sport's governing body confirmed that the controversial cockpit safety device known as the halo is to become mandatory.

Following a meeting of the sport's major players in Geneva on Wednesday, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) revealed that it has given the go-ahead to introduce the concept next year.

The sport has searched for extra head protection for drivers in the last two years following the deaths of F1 driver Jules Bianchi and IndyCar racer Justin Wilson.

The halo was first tested by Ferrari last year, with Red Bull boss Christian Horner describing it as "an ugly solution".

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton said the halo, designed to block debris, was the "worst-looking modification" in the sport's history.

The three-time world champion changed his mind after a safety presentation but the aesthetics of the device, with its three prongs which run at about head height around the cockpit, has courted criticism.

The halo was tested by all 10 teams at different stages last year.

In a statement the FIA confirmed the halo's introduction and said: "With the support of the teams, certain features of its design will be further enhanced. Having developed and evaluated a large number of devices over the past five years, it had become clear the halo presents the best overall safety performance."

However, the influential Autosport magazine claimed that the majority of the 10 teams present at Wednesday's meeting voted against the halo, with the FIA pushing it through on safety grounds.

Sebastian Vettel ran with the so-called "shield" - an alternative device to the halo - fixed to his Ferrari during practice at the British Grand Prix last week. He cut short the trial complaining of dizziness.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2017, with the headline 'F1 hopes halo effect will protect racers'. Print Edition | Subscribe