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It’s no secret that Formula One drivers aren’t too happy about the new “halo.” That’s what they call the new protective cockpit device that is mandatory this racing. However in a turn of events that shocked no one, the drivers of F1 put on their best game faces and ended up getting used to the new system. Now we are about to start the new season of Formula One in Australia soon and it’s highly unlikely we are going to hear too many complaints about the new device built entirely to improve their safety. What can you say? Formula One racers are supposed to be adaptable!
The majority opinion on the Halo is mostly that it’s just ugly. However there’s no proof that it causes a major impact on results and drivers. According to Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly, who was very vocal about not liking it, when you are behind the wheel and driving, you don’t really notice the halo. While many drivers had the opportunity to test the halo last year it was in March that gave them a more in depth look at how the new device affects their job.
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas ways that when he sits behind the wheel, the main part that is visible is just the center pillar but experience drivers aren’t looking at that spot anyway. After an initial adjustment, he says he hardly notices it.
The Halo is arguably the biggest change so far in the Formula One season. Now the car’s designs have been changes very noticeably. An entire ring held by pillars sits atop the cockpit meant to protect drivers’ heads. Many F1 fans and drivers weren’t fans of this idea. After all it did change the game of “open wheeled racing.” Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff still says he’s not very impressed with this device. Mostly he thinks that the committee can make something that just looks better.
The governing body of motorsports, the FIA insists to the press and to others that the halo was the best-available option to limit the risk of head injuries. Injuries similar to the one that most notoriously killed the French driver Jules Bianchi and British IndyCar driver Justin Wilson a few years ago. The Halo was specially designed to help reduce the risk objects and collisions that could bring serious harm to drivers.
At the same time, many drivers and even some officials do believe there will be room to continuously improve and adjust the halo. Many still feel that it’s an aesthetic choice that messes with the whole look of F1. Another issues is that some drivers found it difficult to get in and out of the car quickly because of the design. However others believe that the benefits outweigh the costs and that if it manages to save driver lives it is worth it.
The initial concerns that the halo risks reducing driver’s vision while on the track are so far unfounded. Mostly now teams say that the halo affects aerodynamics and balance. We’ll find out for sure when the new season begins in earnest.
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