Despite the controversial nature of the decision, FIA, the governing body of the Formula 1 racing series, drivers will receive extra head protection next year from a device referred to as the Halo cockpit protection device.
The move by the FIA caught many by surprise, coming as it did following a meeting where a majority of the 10 teams present at the meeting voted against the device.
The FIA statement following the meeting, which read, in part, “Following the unanimous agreement of the Strategy Group, in July 2016, to introduce additional frontal protection for Formula 1 and the repeated support from the drivers, the FIA confirms the introduction of the Halo for 2018,” contradicted that vote.
There has been an ongoing search for driver head protection, as high speed flying objects, such as crash debris, combined with high speed cars racing around the circuits, are not something considered desirable.
F1 trialed another device, the Shield, at Silverstone during the British Grand Prix, but top driver Sebastian Vettel claimed that the device made him dizzy.
The Halo is right in the sight line of drivers, which obviously has to cause some distraction, but the key objection seemed to be that the device was simply ugly.
F1 teams would like to have a decision regarding enhanced cockpit safety sooner, rather than later, so they could incorporate whichever device is chosen in the design of their 2018 cars.
The disappointment regarding the Shield seems to have put the Halo back in favour, but to our eyes, any device seems somewhat like putting a telly antenna on the hood of a 1959 Cadillac Coupe.
Part of the appeal of F1 racing is that the cars look fast, even when they are stationary. Both the Halo and the Shield completely destroy that aesthetic, as well as impair the visibility of the drivers.