The only thing between a Formula One driver’s head and a loose piece of debris in 2017 will be a helmet, reports Sky Sports. Today, the F1 Strategy Group voted against the introduction of a halo around the cockpit in 2017.
Formula One may opt to do more testing on it to introduce the cockpit impact protection device in 2018, writes Sky Sports, but it is unclear as to whether the FIA will continue to push F1 to introduce a cockpit protection device on safety grounds next year. Perhaps this means they’ll reconsider the sleeker looking aeroscreen proposed by Red Bull, or more likely if the FIA isn’t pushing for it, they’ll drop the idea entirely.
Sadly, F1's leadership doesn’t seem to care about drivers’ heads. Bernie Ecclestone was pushing hard against the idea of introducing the halo at today’s Strategy Group meeting, reports The Telegraph. Ecclestone—despite all evidence to the contrary—argued that the halo would make the sport more dangerous, and that drivers opposed the idea.
Ecclestone told The Telegraph:
We don’t need it because it won’t do any good. It won’t save anybody. And it might be worse if a car tips over with it. It could cause more damage than it’s going to save.
Most of the drivers don’t want to see it. They don’t want it. It’s a case of us and the teams will decide in the end.
Contrary to troll-king Ecclestone’s words, many drivers were actually in favor of the halo, and wondered why they weren’t a larger part of the discussion. The Telegraph writes:
[Nico] Rosberg said in Hungary he had asked why it was a matter for the teams not the drivers – no formal vote of the drivers has ever been conducted – while [Jenson] Button was even more strident.
“If the FIA decide it is a safety issue not to have it on the car, we should have it,” Button, the most experienced driver on the grid, said. “It shouldn’t be a question for teams. It is a safety issue. That’s the way it should be.”
Even the halo’s most vocal critic, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, was won over by a presentation of the FIA’s findings on the halo made in Budapest last Friday. Hamilton told Sky Sports:
They said there is a 17% improvement on life saving. We can’t ignore that. It’s a safety thing that we all have to accept.
Facts and data are hard to ignore like that, unless you just don’t care. Today’s vote went to the don’t-cares.
The Strategy Group consists of eighteen votes, six of which are split among the Red Bull, Ferrari, Force India, Mercedes, Williams and McLaren teams, six go to Jean Todt acting on behalf of the FIA, and six go to Bernie Ecclestone, who votes on behalf of Formula One Management. It remains a joke and a sham.
UPDATE: An FIA statement released shortly after the news broke from this afternoon’s meeting confirms that they will be pushing for better cockpit protection in 2018. The statement, as quoted on Adam Cooper’s F1 Blog, reads:
The Strategy Group agreed unanimously that the 2018 season will see the introduction of frontal cockpit protection for Formula One cars in order to significantly enhance the safety of drivers.
It was decided that owing to the relatively short timeframe until the commencement of the 2017 Formula One season it would be prudent to use the remainder of this year and early next year to further evaluate the full potential of all options before final confirmation.
This will include undertaking multiple on-track tests of the ‘Halo’ system in practice sessions during the rest of this season and during the first part of the 2017 season.
While the Halo is currently the preferred option, as it provides the broadest solution to date, the consensus among the Strategy Group was that another year of development could result in an even more complete solution. Halo remains a strong option for introduction in 2018.
While I would argue that going with a partial solution in the meantime is preferable to nothing at all, it’s good to see the FIA confirm that they’re pushing for the adoption of some kind of frontal cockpit protection in 2018. Then again, we heard it would happen in 2017, too, so...