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Halo concept draws contrasting paddock opinions

04 Mar 2016

The new 'Halo' cockpit protection device provoked differing responses among the F1 fraternity after an early concept ran on a car for the first time during pre-season testing in Barcelona this week.

What's the story behind the 'Halo'?

Stemming from a Mercedes cockpit protection concept, Ferrari ran their own prototype on Thursday and Friday to get an early gauge of how it would affect the driver's line of sight from the cockpit.

The push to offer more protection from large pieces of flying debris is believed to have the support of most drivers, while governing body the FIA has expressed its ambition to roll out a standardised design to all cars in time for 2017. And, after seeing Ferrari's 'Halo' hit the track for the first time, the great and good of the F1 paddock had their first opportunity to pass judgement on the design.

Who is in favour?

Sebastian Vettel championed the view that the aesthetics of such a device are secondary to its purpose - and is in no doubt the 'Halo' is a significant step forward in terms of safety.

"It's not the picture you are used to seeing for F1," he admitted. "I agree it doesn't look very nice.

"But if it helps increase the safety and helps save lives, there would be at least two drivers who would still be around - Henry Surtees and Justin Wilson - if we had this type of system.

"It can be ugly but nothing justifies not having these two guys around any more."

Williams' chief technical officer Pat Symonds had a similar stance, adding: "I think it's quite good. I always support us trying to improve safety on the cars. I've never been afraid of things that are different - I don't hold any traditional views of open cockpits or anything like that. I'm perfectly happy with it.

"It doesn't cover everything, but it's certainly a step forward. Whether ultimately a closed cockpit is better, for sure it's going to save someone's life."

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, too, said he was firmly in favour of the concept, saying it represents a 'huge step' and is 'definitely needed'.

And who is not sold on the idea?

Three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was among those who spoke out against the design, arguing that it should at least be optional if introduced.

"I hope that's not what they bring out, I really do," he said. "But if it is, ultimately it's the drivers' protection so we should have a choice individually - I should be able to decide whether to put that on my car.

"It wouldn't be something I'd choose.

"I like it the way it is now - when I get in the car I know there's a certain risk. Safety is a very important issue for sure, but there are risks that we take and you have to decide how much of a risk you are going to take. I'd rather drive without it and risk it."

Force India's Nico Hulkenberg also questioned the concept, saying: "Don't do it. It sends the wrong message. F1 is very safe at the moment. It looks horrible, I don't like it and it's just one of these little personal things that I wouldn't like to see it.

"Safety standards in F1 are pretty high and very good, I'd be happy to accept those risks and keep running as we are."

VIDEO: Ride onboard as Vettel trials the new 'Halo' concept