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F1 drivers split on Halo introduction

The introduction of the Halo device in 2018 is one of the most significant and controversial regulation changes in Formula One's recent history. The device -- designed to protect drivers from flying objects such as loose tyres and debris -- is the next step in the FIA's push for cockpit protection which begun at the end of the last decade.

F1's drivers offered differing opinions on the device ahead of this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix. ESPN has rounded up all of their opinions below.

Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images

Sebastian Vettel: "Well, I wasn't a big fan of the Shield. Mostly because it was impacting on visibility. With the Halo test I did I think was last year in Abu Dhabi and for sure you need to get used to it but at least it didn't impact on the vision. I think that was the biggest difference.

"I think overall you need to understand that it's a decision that helps us in the car in case something goes very wrong. If you look at Formula One and the way Formula One cars look and so on I can understand that people say it doesn't belong on a Formula One car. On the other hand I think times are changing and moving forward. I think if you put it very clear then it should also be very clear for everyone and then it wouldn't be a doubt in your mind whether to introduce it or not.

"If you offer the system as it stands with the power that it has to give us additional protection, offer that to Justin Wilson some time ago and I think he would take it and we would all be happy to take it to help save his life. Now we can't turn back the clock but I think knowing that something is there that helps us in some scenarios it would be ignorant and stupid to ignore it.

"Regarding the look, I like Formula One cars of the past but there's also elements I like nowadays. We're racing cars with wings, that Formula One cars didn't have until late 60's. Now it's part of it. There's plenty of other examples. We had V12 engines, which I'd like to go back to and we don't have them anymore. Overall it's supposed to help us so I think that's what we need to remember."

Fernando Alonso: "First it's for safety, and if this device can help in many of the fatal accidents we've had in the last 10, 15 years as has been proved by the FIA I think if we are all happy to implement the device and we are all happy to have some of our colleagues we could go back in time and save lives we will be all happy.

"That is the first and only thing we should talk. Then the statics, I don't care too much. To be honest, Formula 1 has changed a lot even from my first year in 2001 until now the cars are very different. The height of the front nose, the height of the cockpit here to protect the helmet area. In 40, 50 years ago they didn't have seatbelt in Formula 1! When the seatbelt was implemented it was not any debate, if they had to fit it or if Formula 1 is fun to drive with no seatbelt. It should be like that. For me there is no question. Happy to implement any head protection, extra help protection from next year if the FIA is studying and developing the Halo, and it's the most effective way to protect the head of the drivers, it is more than welcome in my opinion.''

Daniel Ricciardo: "I was in favour of head protection for sure. Time has passed since 2014 when there was Jules' and 2015 Wilson's accident. So it is easy for people to not forget but it is not fresh in their memories so they are like nothing has happened so we don't need it. I am still in favour of some head protection. The halo itself, there was mixed opinions if that was the way to go.

"So they pulled the trigger on it, so we will see. I expect us to talk a little bit more about it tomorrow in the drivers meeting. It seemed like they did it...we thought that there was going to be other solutions maybe, but I guess they feel that this is the best. So we will see.

"I don't want to make too much judgement call on it now, but for sure from what I have seem from some fans, they are not too for it at the moment. But we have to figure out what the reasons are. If they are not for it for aesthetics, or if they think we are less brave than we should be, that is what we have to understand."

Lewis Hamilton: "I think there has been talk about it for some time, we knew it was coming, it was difficult because when they told us about it they mentioned there was a 17 percent improvement in our safety and it is difficult to ignore that. It definitely doesn't look good we have said that and we know that.

"From the driver's side it doesn't look great and the weight of the cars go up, the cars are already way too heavy we have little brakes trying to stop this heavy car and I hope they do a better job to bring the weight down so when they put this thing on it won't make it heavier and harder to stop. We have all tested it they should put it on for a couple of P1s on every single car and see how it goes."

Kimi Raikkonen: "We've tried it a few times and I think it's safer for us as drivers. It will not take all the things away. There are always things that won't be protected. It doesn't matter what we do. I'm fine with it. It looks different. Cars have changed a lot in the past from a pure look wise and people always say it doesn't look right but then funnily enough, very quickly, everyone gets used to it and we forget the whole story. It's a safety thing. I don't think it will bother us driving wise at all. We won't even notice. i think all the talk about it - that you cannot see - is nonsense. The people who write it have never driven an F1 car. It's purely for safety and I think it's a good thing. If we can avoid one serious accident because of that, I think it's the price to pay for sure

"I don't think that is going to change their opinion but I think we are moving towards a closed cockpit. They look better there are some great concepts online of a closed cockpit. The things that have happened with drivers being hit on the head, it is kind of crazy that today we are still vulnerable. Our head is the most precious part of our body, it is exposed so what we do about it ... I definitely don't argue against it. F1 needs to continue to step forward and if it does come in I hope the lower categories get it as well because the young kids need that protection as well.''

Carlos Sainz: "I think, like many of you, feel strange about this Halo going onto a Formula One car. I want to believe it's a system to prevent any kind of dangerous situation and the best solution the FIA has up until now, which I think is good for them to apply the best safety device into Formula One. I think it makes sense, it has been like that in Formula One for many years now and really good for Formula One but I want to believe that either we will get used to it and we will forget about it, or it will be improved in terms of how it looks and it will get better and better with years. I hope that with these two things combined the looks of a Formula One car will improve with time.

Felipe Massa: "I am totally in favour of safety. It's true that maybe the Halo in my accident would not help a lot, even maybe in Jules' accident. But I think Jules' accident is something that is completely different, he crashed into a tractor, which is something that can never happen in Formula One, and I think it will never happen anymore, because all the rules that have been changed.

"I am totally in favour safety, in favour of the Halo, maybe the Shield. I think the Shield, it was not very well done in the way that our visibility is completely disturbed for this very big glass screen. Maybe the Halo is the only solution for the moment. Definitely, we need to drive, we need to have completely the right answer when everybody is driving with the Halo, which will happen maybe in February, that everyone is driving and you have the right answer, that it is not disturbing any direction. I trust the FIA and everything they did for safety in so many years, it helps. I am in favour. I think we here to risk ourselves for a nice show, not to risk ourselves to see a driver lose their life. If you have a wheel flying or a nose, maybe like Justin Wilson, maybe it will save a life. We cannot forget the Halo in Formula One is where we have the best tracks, safety but in other categories, you do not have that. The other categories it happens a lot more than Formula One, so I am in favour. If the Halo is the only solution, if it can help, then I am in favour."

Marcus Ericsson: "I think it's positive. I think like Fernando and Sebastian said safety should be prioritized. I think the FIA has done a good job to really look into it and if this is a best solution at the moment I think it's a no-brainer to go for it for next year. If it can save someone in the future, it's great. Also, I tested it last year and when I drove with it I didn't really notice it all, so I think it's a good thing that it's not going to change anything when you drive, that you have the same feeling when you drive. Yeah, it maybe doesn't look the prettiest but I think it's also something we will get used to. It's always when there are big changes in Formula One it doesn't look so pretty at first, but then people get used and I think it will be the same thing with the Halo."

Sergio Perez: "I'm in favour of it. Whatever has to do with safety, safety always comes first. I think if we had the Halo by now, the last six, seven years it will have saved at least a life. That's worth the risk that the FIA is taking with that. I think once we implement Halo the teams will improve. I think Halo needs a lot of work by now - but I'm sure the system will be improved a lot. We have very clever engineers in Formula One and now that all the teams know that it has to be in place for next year, I believe they will improve it a lot."

Esteban Ocon: "All the drivers were in favour of a solution to bring more safety. In that aspect we can't complain that we now have something for more safety. For sure it's not the most asthetic ones and it's not a fantastic solution but it was the best that the FIA had and we're happy that the FIA works to help safety. But for sure if there is a better solution if there is as much safety.

"The Shield concept brings a lot less safety. It doesn't last if you get a wheel in the face, for example, and the Halo does. The Halo takes off a lot of the risk of taking something in the face. The Shield was made of glass. So [Halo] is the best solution the FIA has at the moment. It's there, so it's good."

Pascal Wehrlein: "It's positive that it's safer for us. What everyone dislikes about it is how it looks, and the cars this year look fantastic compared to previous years -- much faster, much more aggressive. It seems like if you just look at how the cars look everything is going in the right direction then something that is not so positive for the look [is coming in]. But the main point for the FIA was to improve the safety and the Halo is doing that, so on a positive side it is safer and on a negative side it looks worse.

I think you get used to everything quite quickly. I drove last year in Mexico with it and it was strange in the beginning so definitely it's different and you have to get used to it. That's how it is so it's not worth to complain now, that's how it is."

Valtteri Bottas: "I think with all the different systems being tested, this was found to be the most effective at this point. Who knows how temporary it is going to be because maybe there will be another better solution in the future. Personally, I don't like how it looks, I like how the cars look now, but for sure it's an improvement in safety. One negative I think is the weight. It's going to add weight to the car and the last few years the cars have been getting heavier and heavier and then it's killing cornering speeds.

"For sure, with more downforce the speeds are good, but the cars are all the time getting heavier. I tried it in one practice session in the US last year and you do get used to it, so I think in that way it is OK and people will get used to it as well. I just hope it's not going to be that standard Halo we have been trying, because you put it on the car and it looks like a random device. Hopefully teams can play a little bit with it, for example the Mercedes proposal I saw last year looked pretty nice and hopefully we can do something like that.

"I think Formula One cars should be beautiful as well. For sure, safety is pretty important and we don't want anyone to get killed, so if we can save lives then that's the priority, but if there is a way to make the cars look nicer it's always a bonus."


Romain Grosjean: "Personally I think it was a sad day for Formula One when it was announced. "I am still against it, I still don't think it has a place in Formula One. As a GPDA [Grand Prix Drivers' Association] member and director, and a driver, I need to thank the FIA for all the research. The Halo is a strong device against a lot of cases. There are occasions where it can get worse which I am not particularly a fan of. There a few problems that we may have that we haven't thought about. Seeing the starting lights on the grid, no one has tried that, they are always different. Seeing flags on the side and things like that, we need to see a bit more of it.'

"I was surprised when I saw it was coming out because the teams say no, the fans say no, the drivers mainly say no and it came out, so it was a bit of a shock so that's why I said it was a sad day for F1. I don't want to stop the safety research, because I think it's great, and since 1995 evolution has been crazy-good, but hopefully we'll get better solutions to what we have now.''

Jolyon Palmer: "I agree [with Grosjean], I think it's a very sad day. I think it's a mistake. I think there's no coming back from it, sadly, so this will be the end to Formula One as we know it with open cockpit. I think it's an overreaction to problem in other series. Since 1994 there's been one fatality in Formula One, which is tragic. The Halo would not stop it. So the Halo would have saved no death in F1 in 23 years but because of IndyCar incident, Formula 2 incident, where they have different tracks, different safety measures, we are introducing something to Formula One which changes the whole tradition and history to it. I think it's the wrong move.''

Max Verstappen: "I don't like it, but, of course, at the end of the day you have to respect the decision of the FIA. I think since we introduced the virtual safety car, that reduced a lot of risk when you're speeding under the yellow flags in the race and also with the wheel tethers, they are quite strong at the moment so I don't think you will lose a wheel very easily. When there are parts flying around from the car, it's not going to protect you, so I don't really understand why we should need it."

Nico Hulkenberg: "I was never a big supporter of the additional extra head protection and am still not, but it is not my decision. With the FIA making safety rules and requirements, I will accept and get on with it. I think obviously there is that element of aesthetics that doesn't look pretty, but with freak accidents, the one-in-a-million ones, we have security and the tethers are always getting better. I am not sure that this additional protection is necessary because all the other areas keep on improving and we compromise the looks quite a lot."

Kevin Magnussen: "It takes away some of the passion that F1 is talking about. When you look at the car and it is ugly, F1 cars aren't meant to be ugly. That is the reason that a Ferrari Ferrari is more exciting than a Mazda. It is something to do with passion. If it looks s---, it is s---..."

Daniil Kvyat: "I never was supportive of the Halo. I think it's not the best. They are trying to work as hard as possible on the safety, which I appreciate of course, but there is enough safety in Formula One and this goes away from the DNA of Formula One of our sport.

"I don't think the feeling generally is going to change, driving car. There is some obstacles in the viewing. I guess a bit less than the glass thing the Ferrari has tried but there is still some implications. Generally, how it's going to be received outside, I think it's not going to look great, definitely."

Stoffel Vandoorne: "I think aesthetically it's definitely not the nicest thing we've put on the cars and I think a lot of people agree with that - but we've been pushing to improve cockpit safety, to improve head protection. I think the FIA have done a lot of investigations on what would be the best solutions, trying a couple of different solutions with the screen being tested in Silverstone as well. I think for them that was the best solution. So, yeah, I don't think it's a big surprised to see it in 2018 on the cars."

Lance Stroll: "I haven't driven with it so I don't know what it looks like inside the cockpit but if people are happy with visibility I don't see why we shouldn't be using it. I think looks are not important, it's about what is going to save lives.

"Danger doesn't excite me in any way. If it can be safer in everything we do, it still remains motorsport when it's still fighting on track and we're still going out on track to qualifying. That's where we find the excitement -- I don't think it's knowing you can die that excites you, that's not cool. I wouldn't sign up for that.

Source: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/20172940/f1-drivers-split-halo-introduction

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