The last I checked, most of the teams, drivers and fans dislike the controversial HALO device intended to protect the driver’s head in a Formula 1 car. Never mind that, the FIA announced this week that they’re going with in 2018 and everyone else can just suck it up. What??!! Are you against SAFETY??!!
The three trump cards of F1, as I have stated for several years now, are sustainability, safety and money. Pretty much in that order these days. Anything F1 might do can be instantly trumped via sporting or technical regulation via one of these trump cards and the safety card actually can be imposed with little say form teams or drivers or even the owners of F1. This is where the former F1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone, earned his pay. He would normally prevent such a ham-fisted move before it turned the remaining fans of F1 off the scent.
I’ve said all along that F1’s continued dedication to the art of pragmatism is its worst trait. Pragmatism is not a virtue, it’s a compromise and in many cases the wrong move. The HALO may save lives and while it was a junior series freak accident that tragically took the life of Henry Surtees and an equally freak accident in Indycar that claimed the life of Justin Wilson, neither of those are Formula 1 and neither of those series are rushing to use the HALO in 2018. At least I have not read that they are deploying it, I could be wrong.
The HALO, most likely, would not have given us a different outcome in Jules Bianchi’s tragic accident and may have actually made things worse in Fernando Alonso’s Australian accident in 2016. Will it deform, will it become detritus during a crash that the driver cannot navigate around if injured and needing to exit the vehicle quickly? Are there safeguards to quickly remove the unit in the event of extrication?
Lots of questions that I have not read empirical data on that assuage those fears. Did I mention that they look hideous too and that the driver’s line of sight is compromised by a stanchion? Never mind because the Grand Prix Driver’s Association is in favor of the device.
“With regards to the introduction of additional head protection, as stated various times, us drivers respect the FIA’s stand on safety and support their ongoing quest to make racing safer,” Wurz told Autosport.
“Over recent decades, we have seen increasing speeds and ever faster lap times, and this ultimate racing quest is solely possible due to increasing safety.
“Equally, over the same period of time we have seen an increase in popularity of our sport.
“F1 is a role model for ever increasing safety without jeopardising performance.
“Whilst the halo solution might not be the most aesthetically pleasing for everyone, us drivers will nevertheless race and push as hard as we can on track, which is the key for F1 to continue its growth and popularity.”
I’m not suggesting that the FIA haven’t tried to research a device to protect drivers heads but the article says they just have to go with this because they can’t sit around anymore. I would hate to be the driver actually hurt or killed by this device and then face a lengthy legal battle with the FIA.
We know what an errant suspension rod can do and one need look no further than 1994 to see that. Having this apparatus so close to the driver’s head doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.
Some fans of “SAFETY” will say that all the detractors will have to answer for their disdain of a safety device the next time a Wilson or Surtees incident happens in F1. I think there is, right or wrong, and element of risk the drivers all know when they climb into a car. That sentiment doesn’t help the Surtees or Wilson family, I know, but if it actually harms someone, who will answer for that? It’s all speculation and it is hard to make such sweeping moves in the world of odds and speculation. But to their credit, it’s also hard to do nothing. A tough call for sure.
Hat Tip: Autosport