'Halo' splits opinions as Ricciardo tops Hungary practice

Sebastian Vettel in the pits during practice at the Hungaroring circuit yesterday. The championship race leader goes into the Hungarian Grand Prix only one point ahead of Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton.
Sebastian Vettel in the pits during practice at the Hungaroring circuit yesterday. The championship race leader goes into the Hungarian Grand Prix only one point ahead of Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BUDAPEST • World championship leader Sebastian Vettel believes it would be "ignorant and stupid" for F1 not to introduce the new "halo" cockpit head protection next year.

The 30-year-old German, who seeks victory for Ferrari in tomorrow's Hungarian Grand Prix, added that the death of Briton Justin Wilson in an IndyCar race in 2015 was enough evidence to prove the point.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the 11th race of the season before F1's now-traditional European summer break, he was supported by two-time world champion Fernando Alonso.

"I am in favour, I'm positive about the halo," said McLaren driver Alonso. "I think if protection on our heads could save one life - that's worth putting it (on)."

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Vettel, who said he felt slightly dizzy after testing it at Silverstone two weeks ago, was forthright in his support for the device, which has not been universally praised on aesthetic grounds, by the F1 paddock.

The four-time world champion said: "There should not be a doubt in your mind about whether to introduce it or not - if you offer the system as it stands, with the power it has to give it us protection, offer that to Wilson some time ago, he would take it.

"We would be happy to take it, to help save his life. We cannot turn back the clock, but knowing that something is there that helps us in certain scenarios, it would be ignorant and stupid to ignore."

Vettel's team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull are also supporters of the introduction of the "halo" device.

However, Ricciardo's team-mate Max Verstappen is not in favour of the device.

"There needs to be a certain element of risk," the Red Bull driver said. "You can improve the car but we don't need this thing on top of it. It's not just the looks, I don't think it is necessary.

"With the virtual safety car, a lot of risks are taken out already, the wheel tethers are quite strong so it is not easy to lose a wheel. If there is a part flying off the car, it is not going to protect you anyway."

Ricciardo, meanwhile, recorded a best time of 1min 18.455sec in yesterday afternoon's practice session. He also led the morning time sheets in 1:18.486, with both his fastest times comfortably inside the race lap record of 1:19.071 set by Michael Schumacher with Ferrari in 2004.

Vettel was second fastest, 0.183sec off the pace.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN


HUNGARIAN GP

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2017, with the headline ''Halo' splits opinions as Ricciardo tops Hungary practice'. Print Edition | Subscribe