FIA slam brakes on 'halo' device, turning to safety screen

SOCHI (Russia) • Formula One is set to abandon plans for a 'halo' head protection system in favour of a transparent screen that could be introduced next season.

The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) announced the development following a meeting of the sport's core strategy group in Paris on Tuesday ahead of this weekend's Russian Grand Prix.

"A number of more integrated solutions for additional frontal protection have been studied, and the decision has been taken to give priority to the transparent 'shield' family of systems," it said in a statement. "The FIA aims to carry out track tests of this system during this season in preparation for implementation in 2018."

The 'halo' cockpit protection device, fixed at three points in front of the driver that supports a protective loop above his head, was extensively tested last season to mixed responses.

The FIA said in January the net safety benefit had been established but a decision needed to be made about the aesthetics and whether such a system was right for Formula One.

Cockpit protection has become a priority since the deaths of drivers in other series after being hit by wheels and flying debris. The shield, a see-through screen in front of the driver that does not cover the cockpit, was tested at this year's Chinese Grand Prix practice sessions.

Decisions made by the strategy group have to be approved by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council - which is usually a formality.

Tuesday's meeting also formalised changes to next year's regulations that will remove the 'T-wing' and 'Shark Fin' aerodynamic devices that have been criticised on aesthetics grounds. Measures will also be taken to ensure oil will not be used as fuel.

The strategy group, which is limited to top teams, will also be opened to non-members.

The governing body said this would demonstrate "the effective commitment of both the FIA and the Commercial Rights Holder to improve transparency in the sport".

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2017, with the headline 'FIA slam brakes on 'halo' device, turning to safety screen'. Print Edition | Subscribe