Sharp rejection from Lauda, he hopes they will find a better solution than a Halo system, to be introduced not before year 2019.
FIA has decided to make mandatory a protection system for pilot’s head, it will be used from 2018 and this system will be the Halo. This solution was attacked from a stylistic point of view because it is very negative on a F1 car. Three solution were tested from 2016 until the last week-end at Silverstone, there is no doubt the ugly one was select: a structure with a Y shape like the Halo.
There are different solutions where the use of Halo can give an effective protection to a pilot, mainly in a case where there is an impact against objects or pieces of a Formula 1 car. Those debries must be of a big dimension, because there is still a certain vulnerability in case of impact with small objects.
There is one point where, those opposed to Halo or any other kind of protective structure to the helmet, use to show the reason the system is unuseful: it is the fact an open cokpit gives freedom to a pilot to escape from his car. This Halo will open a new chapter, a point of origin for a new Formula 1 different from what it was. Any safety increment had to cross some important steps in about 60 years of Formula 1. They started to change cars, structures or procedures to create something safer. Even so, a no-risk competition will never be possible: it is the nature of this motorsport. Racing with an open cockpit, faced some casualties like Henry Surtees in the British Formula 1 during 2009 or Justin Wilson in the Indycar during 2015.
A final decision was taken and next year there will be a Halo system on every car. Niki Lauda is a person who loves to give his opinion and he does not care to be politically correct. He thinks this decision is another mistake done by FIA, he believes other options should be taken into account:
“We tested the Halo, an Aeroscreen done by Red Bull Racing and a shield protection system. Nobody is persuaded by this idea.
We should take the right decision and the Halo is the wrong one.
I am sure there is a better solution than a Halo system, otherwise we were not going to test three different options. If we are going to find something capable to do not destroy the appearance of a F1 car, it might be introduced during 2019… Simple! There is no reason to hurry up, doing a mistake we can regret later”
It is pretty funny to remember this Halo concept, it was suggested by Mercedes to FIA on the year 2015 (Mind about you business, Mercedes?). In this case, who is really defending this Halo system ? Today, there is only the Federation. They are the only ones to remember those reasons which activated a research work on this system and an interest from Strategy Group along 2016 to implement it as soon as possible. The main reason is to reduce to a minimum level any risk linked to racing incidents but once again the main factor is that Strategy Group wants it!
Taking into account a complete incompatibility between Halo and a F1 car from a beauty point of view, FIA remembers the results obtained by using it. Any transparent system like those used by Red Bull Racing or the last one tested by Ferrari at Silverstone, they were less strong than a Halo system. Todt gives his opinion about this protection device and the reason is now mandatory:
”Any test with a Halo system, it was focused on three main kind of hazards: impacts against cars, impacts between cars and background or other objects. Those tests gave as result, a capacity to sustain 15 times the mass of a car reducing any potential damage a pilot could suffer.
During an impact, it was proven a Halo system can avoid any contact between the helmet and a car or a wall in the majority of those scenarios. When an object was pretty big, Halo was capable to divert it away from the cockpit increasing the safety of this area.
Visibility was not impaired, so no reduction in the field of view was noticed. A test to see if there was a reduction of freedom for a pilot to get-out of a cockpit, proved Halo is not creating any obstruction.
Even if there was this success, on July 2016, Strategy Group decided to delay an introduction of this protection system so there was more time to make another couple of tests. Some alternative solutions were investigated but Strategy Group claimed, this system has to be introduced in one way or another, telling to everybody 2018 was the final date to start. They want to increase the safety of pilots and give a better protection to frontal areas of their cockpit. A design of this system can be improved before 2018 and this is going to be a priority of FIA, teams and pilots”
If there are not different ideas, it looks during 2018 we will see some kind of cars with a horrible design. We should suggest to TV channels to introduce a software capable to remove the Halo system from TV screens. It will be there but nobody will watch it at home! Lauda would be happy, there will be more public watching a race on TV, there will be a reduction of public going to a circuit because you must agree it is very ugly: Halo is simply ugly! It looks there is nothing to do, we will be forced to watch on the circuits but if they will find a guru of the software, the idea to cancel the Halo from the screen is not so crazy. If they will not find a real solution we will be forced to watch a system that is like a punch in your eye without any chance to have a way to avoid to be forced to watch it.
Sometimes, remedy is the best cure: we will move to Indycar…