Stefan Wilson rejects Hamilton’s Halo criticism

2016 F1 season

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Stefan Wilson, the brother of IndyCar and F1 driver Justin Wilson who was killed in a crash last year, says critics of increased cockpit protection are being “short-sighted”.

The FIA intends to introduce new cockpit safety protection measures next year in the wake of accidents including Wilson’s at Pocono Raceway last August. Two versions are being evaluated: the Halo design which appeared on Ferrari’s car during testing and the Aeroscreen which Red Bull ran in practice for the Russian Grand Prix.

While some drivers have supported the planned change Lewis Hamilton has been a notable critic, describing F1’s current safety arrangements as “perfectly fine”. Bernie Ecclestone has also cast doubt on whether the developments would work.

Justin Wilson died in an IndyCar crash last year
Asked for his response to their views in an interview with the BBC, Stefan Wilson said: “It’s very easy to be short-sighted on some of those items.”

“For me having gone through what I’ve gone through in the last eight months it just makes so much sense.”

“And, to be honest, it pre-dates that a little bit: I was actually really good friends with Henry Surtees and we lost him in 2009 with a very similar incident where a piece of debris, actually a wheel, struck his head. So I’ve been aware of this for many, many years and it just seems that we have to back any form of safety technology.”

The 26-year-old will make his second IndyCar start later this month at the Indianapolis 500 in a car using the same number 25 as his brother ran last year. He said safety innovations which are commonplace now had also faced opposition before they were introduced.

“When the HANS device came in to play several years ago there was a little bit of resistance and nowadays I don’t think I’d ever get strapped into a car without a HANS device,” he said. “So for sure it’s going to reach a bit of opposition to begin with and once people adjust to it, it’ll just become the new normal.”

“If it means that we don’t lose any more drivers I’m all for it, I don’t know how you can be against that.”

Wilson said driver head protection has been “an issue for several years now” in sports like F1 and IndyCar.

“It’s been the one area where the driver’s been most vulnerable for 20 years. I think they are taking measures as you’re seeing the Halo in Formula One that Ferrari developed and the screen that Red Bull developed which I think has a lot of promise.”

“And then in terms of IndyCar addressing the debris, they’ve attached even more tethers to larger items on the car that can come off in an accident. I think progress is being made and that’s at least one positive to take away.”

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Keith Collantine
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85 comments on “Stefan Wilson rejects Hamilton’s Halo criticism”

  1. Aaaah! This debate has me so 50/50 its unreal. I think its fair to say we dont want anyone to die or suffer serious injury BUT I always felt F1, Indycar and others should be open cockpit. Forget the looks, that goes out the window when safety cones to it. But I just think it goes against the essence of open wheel race cars.

    I’m so conflicted!!!😬😬😬😬

    1. Single-seaters being open cockpit is just how they developed. No one with any actual authority in the decision-making process ever said that that’s how they have to be. There was a time when front-mounted engines, spaceframe chassis and no seatbelts were all well-established norms before someone decided to go a different direction, whether for performance reasons or for safety reasons. There have even been experiments dating as far back to the mid-1930s in closed cockpit Grand Prix machines, which was revisited on occasion up to the late 1960s, which only shows there is no pre-defined form for a Grand Prix car to take, it is constantly evolving with the times.

      Just as it is absurd to argue that the current V6 formula is not “real” Formula One, as can be seen among many of the more short-sighted fans of the sport, it is absurd to dismiss the closed cockpit experiment as being against the sport’s “DNA”, because that DNA is constantly evolving, and has been since the formative years of motor racing over 100 years ago.

      1. Well, since there are people like Lauda against it, who has a far better grasp of F1 safety and danger than anyone here, and was a safety advocate who gave up a world title because he didn’t want to take the risk racing in heavy rain, I’d say it’s not so cut and dry.

        1. The Bianchi crash was freakish, in hitting a recovery vehicle and the VSC played a part also, l would say since 1994 F1 has been about the safest form of motorsport in the world (without having any facts to back that up)
          The old euro tracks have been chicance’d to death, the new tracks are so wide they could land airbuses…the tubs are like a mother’s womb, and there have been a lot of very high g impacts over the last 20 odd years..
          Freakish accident will always occur with or without halo’s,
          any form of roof protection will open Pandora’s box and bugger up the Formula..No Halo’s

          1. The major problem with this halo or aeroscreen is that it’s just “band aiding” to address the current problems. Cars need a radical redesign to look good so that everyone agrees that it is a Grand Prix car. Would you prefer cars looking exactly like that MP4-X on the grid the next year?

          2. maarten.f1 (@)
            10th May 2016, 10:19

            @nosehair When is an accident not freakish? Justin Wilson and Henry Surtees could’ve been saved by better head protection, Jules Bianchi perhaps, and with Maria de Villota’s accident better head protection could’ve helped as well. And Massa might not have been horribly injured when that loose spring hit him in the head.

            Of course there are always circumstances why an accident happens, and indeed a halo device or screen does not prevent springs getting loose, or people driving into trucks. But then again, the airbag in your car doesn’t stop you from hitting a tree either. There shouldn’t be any knee jerk reactions, it needs to be very carefully considered what the best option is. Head protection should make racing safer, and not introduce new risks.

            Sure it looks ugly, and it might change the spirit of open cockpit racing, but if there was head protection, four drivers could’ve lived and one might’ve prevented serious injury. Formula One is safer than ever, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to improve.

          3. It was not a freak accident at all. It was entirely predictable that it could happen – Martin Brundle had been raising serious concerns about the tractors recovering cars beside a live race track for years… decades even. Charlie Whiting’s idiotic codifying of how much you have to slow down for double waved yellows – barely at all – just made it all the worse & more likely.

            It is just the same way that it is entirely predictable that something big will again hit a driver on the head again. To have a potential solution and not implement it on the grounds of looks or accusations re bravery is utterly sick to me.

        2. Lauda’s argument is another one that boils down to “ruining the sport’s DNA”, which, looking at the history of Grand Prix motor racing, doesn’t hold up. Just because he has more experience with F1 safety doesn’t mean he’s infallible when it comes down to such arguments.

          1. @Maarten.. freakish , AS is in not in normal racing incidents…Massa’s head bolt is a good cannot factor every senario into making a race car safe ..l still have doubts with up turned cars canopies and halo’s in getting a driver out of a car quickly…once head protection starts the whole the Formula changes and every designer starts seeking advantage…”Rules are for the interpretation of wise men and the obedience of fools” …..Colin Chapman.

    2. But F1 is supposed to be “open wheel” as well, and yet we find air deflection devices around the wheels. If you look at the early images of F1 races, you can see there aren’t any such devices, which makes me think if one of this generation of cars was submitted to the scrutineers of the early period of F1, then the modern car would have failed.
      At one time drivers just wore a helmet, then it was a full face helmet, and maybe there was opposition to that, but everyone accepts those now. Now we are looking at something like a windscreen, or maybe even an enclosed cockpit. I don’t see why there is opposition to protecting the driver when the essential element of “Open Wheel” is open wheels, and that is taken lightly.
      I’m told the aerodynamic aids used today are essential to reduce lift on the front wheels, so one could argue they are there for safety, not speed, but I do wonder if there are other ways to reduce the aerodynamic lift on the wheels without having to actually reduce the dragging element, and that the real reason they use the current type of deflection is because it allows the car at the front of a group to go faster than would otherwise be the case.

    3. Very hard subject. How far do you go as ultimate safety would be no drivers and autonomous race cars. Is this a step on the ladder towards this zero risk solution? Will we ban covetable cars on the road? As I cannot decide I will go with whatever is chosen as I have no influence on the decision and there are pros and cons, if they have this extra protection it would not taint my view of the racing enough to stop watching my concern is by keep taking these steps we may end up with autonomous cars.

    4. If the Canopy had been in place in 2012, it would have save the lives of; Maria de Villota & Jules Biachi and prevented the injury of Felipe Massa, also worth noting as mentioned before that windscreens have a long history with f1 with at least some cars on the grid in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s (including Ferrari) and 90’s (admittedly the McLarens screen was tiny), given all that i’m 99% unsure WTH there is even a discussion about it.

  2. Obviously he disagrees

    1. but was he joking when he said “short-sighted”

  3. Maybe it is time someone drove a car and someone else shot a small projectile at it so all the armchair experts can stop pretending they know what would’ve and what wouldn’t have saved someones life.

    Then all we need is a third person to point out that aesthetics is never an arguement in this entire matter of safety.

    1. Well, Hamilton isn’t an armchair expert and he’s against it. Nor is Lauda, who is also against it. As well as other drivers and ex-drivers. So, what’s your point?

      1. @selbbin That Lauda, Hamilton and any other driver ARE an arm chair experts. They don’t know anything about the science behind it from research. Their opinion on the matter (whether it would have saved someones life) is as worthless as ours. Sure they can comment on how it looks, and their opinion on visibility counts but they do not sat behind a desk developing the thing. If Hamilton or Lauda saw what would happen to a testdummy when you shoot a tyre at it, and what would not happen when either halo or aeroscreen was present I think their opinion would change quite quickly.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          10th May 2016, 10:46

          I’d say they are much better positioned to talk about the merits of head protection than someone in a lab firing projectiles at bits of carbon fibre! Drivers may not be able to calculate the exact forces exerted on a helmet by a loose wheel travelling at 200kph but I doubt the scientists have much experience of said debris flying at them!

          Back to Stefan Wilson for a second though…. I guess it just doesn’t sit right with me. On one hand, we have a grieving sibling saying “it just seems that we have to back any form of safety technology” and yet he is choosing to enter a race around a very high speed oval surrounded by concrete walls…

          Oval racing is far more dangerous than ANYTHING in F1 – they can’t even race around the Peraltada for safety reasons in F1 and yet Indycar is still happy to race with concrete walls and catch fencing….!? It’s like criticising a sport for not using the HANS device when you do not use a helmet yourself.

          1. On the contrary, Wilson’s position makes perfect sense. He doesn’t want to change the racing, but he wants to make the racing safer. He’s happy to keep oval racing – although there have been outcries against the new aero kits and pack racing directly from the drivers – but he wants oval racing to be as safe as possible, which to him means with head protection. He’ll go around banked corners at 230mph, but he wants something protecting his head while he does it.

            Perhaps the reason Wilson’s comment ‘doesn’t sit right’ is because it directly contradicts the slippery slope argument [read: fallacy] that is so often made by opponents to head protection, and just doesn’t make sense to people who legitimately hold those views. If opposition to head protection isn’t a cry about the ‘DNA’ of F1, it’s a cry about how making F1 safe ultimately requires putting bubbles around the drivers and restricting speeds to 20mph, or some other ridiculous claims. Now Wilson comes along, a person whose opinion on the merits of head protection carries much more weight than Hamilton, Lauda, and Bernie, and shows that he will participate in dangerous racing but wants to remove unnecessary risk. Wilson’s a walking, talking, race-car-driving rebuttal to the “bubbled driver” arguments and shows that you can have real, fast, dangerous racing, and also head protection without taking anything away.

          2. one man’s slippery slope is another man’s argumentum ad verecundiam.
            Wilson’s position makes perfect sense, hes a device used to deflect criticism, no different than Toto’s straw man (conspiracy theorists).

            If you think people should be allowed to make choices, and take risks with in REASON, feel free to agree with Hamilton, as I do. If you think people should be told what to do, love rules, and repeat what you are told, perhaps agreeing with your favored authority figure is a more appealing mode of existence.

            I am for OPPORTUNITIES and CHOICE. I have seen what happens to people who jump on the “saves lives” bandwagon, I have even lived it in Iraq.

            “Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories” Bush Jr., prior to the decimation of the peoples of Iraq.

        2. You dont have to be a scientist to understand what happens when a tyre hits you in the head at 200mph.
          Hamilton, Lauda and other “armchair” peoples oppinion on this is valid.

          1. @rethla So just paraphrasing your comment;
            a) It is clear to everyone what a 200mph hit of a tyre would do.
            b) Yet you think it is valid for Hamilton and Lauda to say protection against it is not needed…?

            Neither Hamilton or Lauda or any other driver can for fact say it would have saved someones life or whether it wouldn’t have. Only proper research and testing can give us such a result and even then it’s never going to be the actual hit that Wilson or Bianchi had to endure. My point is off all the people in F1 to have a say in this drivers should not be the ones to decide because they ‘think’ it would not have saved anyone, let alone because they don’t like it…

          2. Well for Bianchi its very clear that nothing on the car or the lack of it was at fault. The way that “accident” happened he might just aswell have run over some marshals which are equally bad or even worse. If you get Whiting to do a proper job running those races and coordinating the Marshals thats a no problem and focusing on that is probably the best way to improve safety at the moment. No testing is needed.

            For Wilson that is not F1 and they are taking measures against that type of accident and they are doing even more after his death.

            Noone has died in F1 for over 20 years becouse of unsafe carsdesign and thats an pretty substantial testingground. I agree with Hamilton that F1 is safe enough and the windscreen looks stupid.

            Also scientists dont have an oppinion, Whatever results they get from their testing its up to other people (Like the drivers) to have oppinions on the matter.

        3. Yeah, like Lauda doesn’t know what happens in a crash and what the ramifications are for not having 100% iron clad nothing can go wrong safety. Like they haven’t seen or talked about the science behind the engineering solutions. Like he’s just staying oblivious to both the needs and the solutions. Gimme a break. Is Justin Wilson somehow more of an expert?

    2. The FIA is supposed to be in the process of doing precisely that, but I’m worried that the items are going to be put on before the process is complete. It’s not like HANS, where the testing was completed first and then the devices mandated.

    3. No offence but from your user name I assume you drive?

      Do you race? If so is it open or closed cockpit?

      There is a fundamental difference to racing either type for the competitor. It’s what makes one far more interesting than the other. That’s the DNA.

      It’s like motorcycle racing – much more visceral. The DNA is not whether the cars look different year to year or some other ethereal concept. They are fundamentally different experiences. It’s certainly why old, or in Raineys case, paralysed bike racers go off and race Superkarts at 170mph at say Le Man or Laguna Seca without seat belts or much else rather than race a tin top Porche or similar. It should perhaps be called open air racing.

      No one would advocate less safety but neither of the proposals would have helped Bianchi and frankly I am more concerned with spectators (what’s left) or marshals being killed by a wheel/tire/front wing/bolt (although much of that won’t actually be stopped) or a spring being fired off one of these contraptions faster than it arrived due to the necessary flexion of the structure.

      Further can someone explain why the testing is largely ‘wheels’ being fired at the cockpits when the use of tethers has largely eradicated that risk and while tragic, Surtees was racing in a series that has no such regulations?

      Not related to your post but it would be nice if people recognised and understood the simply huge strides helmet manufacturers have made in the last five let alone twenty years. To suggest today’s risk is in anyway similar to say, the Senna era is tiresome and ignores that work.

    4. Halo wouldn’t prevent that though! For me it’s visor or nothing… and I’d rather the former.

  4. With the focus on cockpit protection, Indy seems to ignore the two things that occurred to me following Justin Wilson’s tragic death.

    First, the use of Aero kits that almost seemed designed to create large, dangerous debris fields, much more so than F1. They are talking about going to a spec kit as early next year – surely this aspect needs to be addressed as well.

    Second, the inherent and arguably unacceptable risks associated with running single seater cars on ovals. I watched the Pocono race in which Justin Wilson was killed – half the field retired and it seemed like someone went into the wall every 20 laps or so. I am not surprised that some drivers will only do street races and road courses in Indy – F1 is far safer than running cars at 220 mph in close proximity to each other and concrete walls.

    1. They are addressing it, they have I think, what, 20 tethers on the car now attached to all of the main bits.

      Although F1 may be far safer, the head area is an obvious danger zone, the accumulation of other factors that make F1 safe in relative terms don’t fix that.

  5. I keep wondering about something I haven’t seen addressed. I’ve seen the tests where they fire a tire at the cockpit. A-ok. But what happens if the car is in an actual crash that mangles things up a bit, like the one Alonso just had? Is there danger of the visor/shield splintering and injuring the driver? Or maybe the framework around the shield? If it’s strong enough to bend and absorb that tire, it seems to me that it might be jagged when it breaks from torsion or crumpling. I hope this isn’t overlooked in the current ‘no, I’m right and you’re wrong’ dialog that seems to be going on.

  6. Honestly I can see the HALO or other cockpit protection devices for INDYCAR, especially the superspeedways where there is a concrete wall/fence immediately adjacent to the banked track where any incident is going to funnel debris back onto the racing line.

    However for circuit racing I really don’t think that it is all that necessary. I’ve watched F1 since 1980 and in all that time of open cockpit racing (including FF1600, FF2000, F3 F3000/GP2, Le Mans, etc.) there have been so few incidents of a driver being struck. Tethers kept all four of Alonso’s tyres on the car during his horrendous accident in Melbourne and that is where the technology thrust should go in my opinion. Losing a driver is tragic of course, and I do not mean to minimize that in any way, but racing will never be 100% safe and I believe open cockpits are essential to F1’s identity.

  7. I know I will sound like a mad ranting crazy person to some for saying this but, holy moly you must be a weird person if you’re OK with seeing someone hurt/crippled/killed just because the “car looks better without it”

    I don’t care if “this won’t stop every kind of accident that is possible”, that’s the dumbest argument ever… Off course it doesn’t, guess what fire stations sometimes burn to the ground, stuff happens. But the next time a tire hits whatever screen or halo device that are mounted, I hope you cold people remember that you hoped, wished, and crossed your fingers for that device to not exist, and that driver to get hit in the head

    1. Fine, but they could build a big net on the front of the car to catch debris too, or mount a plow on the front – all sorts of goofy ideas that help no-one. If action is to be taken let’s hope it’s effective action, and if nothing more effective than “keep tractors off the active racetrack” is available, then why force all the teams to spend the money developing these public relations devices?

      1. @leejo

        Do you think a screen is so unreasonable?

        “these public relations devices”
        Just… no, do not even start that. That is absolutely and categorically wrong.

        Absolutely the tractor was a huge error, however this screen is not designed to even deal with that. The issues are only related in that it reminds us what happens if we get it wrong.

        1. All I’m saying is that the solution should solve the problem, and I’m not following how either of the solutions we’ve seen would have saved Bianchi’s life or prevented de Villota’s injuries. If they don’t solve the problem, then they’re public relations devices, and expensive ones at that. If tests show that these devices would work in that situation, I’m all for it.

          Wilson’s case seems different to me – I’m used to seeing crashes like his in NASCAR and Indicar, where the track limits are defined by concrete, metal poles, and wire fences that both create and direct large amounts of debris back onto track. Those tracks scare me, and I think are more of the root cause of the problem than the open canopies.

          1. “All I’m saying is that the solution should solve the problem, and I’m not following how either of the solutions we’ve seen would have saved Bianchi’s life or prevented de Villota’s injuries.”

            I don’t see anyone arguing for the removal of air bags from cars because they don’t solve the issue of people walking up to your driver side door and shooting you in the head.

            It is stupid to dismiss something that could genuinely help just because it doesn’t solve every situation. The aim here isn’t ultimately to prevent death in Bianchi like incidents (VSC and rules against heavy machinery being on track are the action being taken there), it is more about protection against debris (think Massa 2009).

    2. And what about the drivers that are against it? You know, the people this actually affects. If they’re happy to drive without the device despite having the choice then it’s up to them, not us.

    3. petebaldwin (@)
      10th May 2016, 10:50

      @dr-Jekyll – How about “you must be a weird person if you’re OK with seeing someone hurt/crippled/killed just “for your entertainment?”

      None of these drivers would be hurt if we just didn’t go racing. Cars are designed to safely transport people from X to Y. There is no need to drive them at speeds where they can cause harm to anybody. No need at all.

      1. @petebaldwin

        I don’t understand or agree with that at all… I think it’s a hyperbole comparison that adds nothing of note to the discussion.

        “None of these drivers would be hurt if we just didn’t go racing”: but we are racing, and people can get hurt, we all accept this. Realizing that inherent risks exist, is different from wanting (more) danger intentionally.

        Adding a window screen or halo device detracts nothing at all from any racing aspect, it just minimizes unnecessary injuries.

        I wish to reiterate, the next time a race driver gets hit in the head with debris, that you took the gladiator quote to heart, because the guy knew his risks right? it made that race more fun for you that the driver didn’t have a window screen right?

    4. @dr-jekyll
      What about boxing? The punch of professional fighter are lethal too.
      Do boxing lover who reject head protector should classified as sadistic?
      I’m far from Lewis nor Lauda fans but I think what they said about F1 DNA is just as simply as saying F1 need to retain its open cockpit.

      1. @ruliemaulana

        actually boxing has a judge and medical team standing 3 ft from both competitors, and both are wearing padded gloves so there is head protection.
        And the entire point of the sport is to punch each other, the entire point of F1 is not to be hit in the head by debris where there are simple, cheap, efficient solutions to avoid it. A windscreen or halo detracts nothing at all from any aspect of the racing, the ONLY thing we lose from it is that some people like the look of the car better than the lives of drivers

  8. The only people that should have a say in this are the drivers, and considering that they are split on the decision shows that it’s not simple, and that the people it impacts don’t necessarily want it. As for any opinions here, including mine, they’re irrelevant.

    1. I’m afraid I disagree. This kind of decision is about future drivers as well as the current ones, and we don’t know who they are yet. Someone just needs to stand up, make a decision and stick by it… It will be a tough one.

  9. Should we insist cyclists have some kind of halo too?
    Slower speeds but nothing preventing a serious injury.

    F1 does not need Halo. Make the cars slower if need be, maybe a top speed limit like the max fuel flow limit or something.

  10. Mick Nicholson
    10th May 2016, 0:12

    There has not been much discussion of increasing the number of tethers per wheel or of tethers on wings etc in F1 to match or exceed those in Indycars. I don’t understand this unless it’s being kept as a fallback option to table if Halo etc fail. It seems odd since they would reduce the risk to spectators and Marshalls as well as drivers.

    1. Probably because so far, strengthening the eight wheel tethers (2 per wheel) has proven sufficient to retain wheels, except in absurdly large accidents where more is unlikely to have helped. Wing tethers are a neat idea, but I doubt F1 will consider them unless it gets some near misses with its own large items. Until then, iterative increases in crashproofing – which make it more likely that smaller pieces that “ping” off surfaces will result rather than large things that bludgeon or penetrate will occur) will probably be preferred.

      Note that Indycars have to cost less than F1 cars to fit the pockets of those competing in Indycars, so tend to need cheaper ways of getting to the safety standard appropriate for their competition. Also, F1 has a habit of fixing the blatant problem rather than taking a holistic view of the matter, whereas Indycars looked at the situation and generalised the issue to consider anything on the car that might cause similar danger.

  11. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but, why does the focus around cockpit safety all seem to be aimed towards F1.. Surely the series who have had recent fatalities on the track should be taking the A for this.. Yes I know The F1 world lost Julie’s, but (again, correct me if in wrong) unfortunately these devices would’ve had little, to no effect in poor Jules’ incident.

    I just feel this would be far more beneficial to Indy/speedway sooner than it would F1

    1. Because for some reason F1 panics and is reactionary while other series seem more cool headed.

      1. It almost like somebody falling off their bike in the Tour de France and then suddenly they start putting stabilisers on motto GP bikes..

      2. @selbbin – So, F1 should wait until there is another death and then try to do something about it? Sorry, I don’t mean to be petulant, but I’m trying to understand the reasoning behind this argument.

        Because for some reason F1 panics and is reactionary while other series seem more cool headed.

        Should F1 attempt to lead the way in car racing technology in every area except for safety?

        Should F1 go back to letting officials and fans stand right next to the live race track, or even on it in some cases while race cars go by at top speed? Should we eliminate catch fences, safer fuel tanks, helmets and all those other pesky, ridiculous safety devices that just get in the way of some race fans’ enjoyment of death and destruction?

        OK, I mean, really, are we for driver safety progressively moving forward or do we not mind the deaths of our revered drivers? Personally, I wish wish Justin Wilson, Mark Donohue, Jim Clark, Jules Bianchi, Greg Moore, Ayrton Senna, Gilles Villeneuve and many others were still alive today. Hopefully their ultimate sacrifices have led to more and better safety so others do not have to suffer the same fate.

        Otherwise, with no improvements in safety after such horrendous, destructive crashes the only fans left will be bloodthirsty ghouls who don’t mind the spectacle and even relish it. I would suggest that anyone with those kind of tendencies get themselves into some high speed destruction derbies and put your own life on the line. It’s pretty easy to hide behind your words knowing it won’t ever be you behind the wheel in danger of risking your life and limb.

        Sorry again if this sounds harsh, but in over 50 years of watching F1 and many other forms of racing I’ve seen all kinds of fans. Including some who don’t mind other folks paying the ultimate the ultimate price so they can talk macho stuff about their “sport.” If that is not you, I apologize, and maybe you can tell me how you would make F1 safer if you were in charge.

        1. Great comment, I just think if F1 does it. It should be implemented to all open cockpit series across the board from day 1

          1. @nemo87 – I would hope the same.

        2. petebaldwin (@)
          10th May 2016, 11:10

          @bullmello – “Personally, I wish wish Justin Wilson, Mark Donohue, Jim Clark, Jules Bianchi, Greg Moore, Ayrton Senna, Gilles Villeneuve and many others were still alive today.”

          As, of course, does everyone else. Thing is, looking at the list of drivers you’ve mentioned, 4 out of 7 happened in F1. If all 4 had the same crash but in 2016 with the current regs, cars and tracks, would any have even been injured? Personally, I think all 4 would have got out of the cars and jumped on the back of a moped!

          Now, let’s look at the Indycar deaths. Would either have fared differently with this year’s Indycar regs and cars? Have the cars and tracks been changed to prevent either?

          F1 should always look to improve where it needs to and if there is a way of introducing head protection that works, then why not? Having said that, I don’t think the Aeroscreen or the Halo (in their current versions) are the right solutions and I don’t see why a half finished concept needs to be rushed in. Perhaps in Indycar where there is a much higher risk but not in F1.

          1. Well said!

            I am amazed at the variety of drivers and series that are being dragged up by the health and safety experts (many of whom would be better off watching WEC – or are they?) as being ‘saved’ by this complete neutering of a racing series, all while ignoring that F1 is the only beneficiary!

            I have feeling there are also some Red Bull fanatics out there that feel there will be a benefit from such installations.

          2. @petebaldwin – Good and fair points. I do tend to think of F1 and IndyCar together in this light since they are similar series, single seater/open cockpit, with a common issue regarding head protection. Both can learn much from each other. I hope whichever series can come up with the best safety solutions for head protection that the other will choose to implement them as well. You are certainly correct that IndyCar has other safety issues that are separate from the head protection issue. Seeing continuous safety progress in both series is desirable.

            I also have questions and concerns about the halo and the aeroscreen. The halo is too incomplete. The aeroscreen is better, but I wonder how it would fare in a wet race. Mist and water drops on two visual surfaces would seem to be worse than on just one visual surface. That needs to be tested for visibility purposes. It was encouraging to hear that the visibility in the dry was good though.

            Most importantly, these two devices are stepping stones in a progression towards something that will be the best solution. We can’t always get to the proper solution in one giant leap. Sometimes it’s the first small steps that lead to the right place. It is gratifying to see F1 taking the lead to do something positive in this direction.

            I think the testing and implementing phases are definitely two different paths. The testing needs to take place to see what does and does not work before implementing anything. Some people here seem to not grasp the difference between the two and think that F1 will be ruined forever just because safety devices are being tested. I’m far more concerned about the ruination caused by Bernie than the testing of devices that can potentially save lives. Anyways, thank you for the intelligent discussion.

    2. WEC also considers cockpit safety, even in its closed-cockpit cars, but because it hasn’t had any recent examples of accidents where injury/deaths would be reduced by the sorts of new measures being proposed here, it isn’t making much noise about it. It was more of an issue at the start of the decade when there was a debate about whether LMP2 should continue to allow open-cockpit as well as closed-cockpit solutions.

      My guess is that every series worries about specific aspects of safety when there’s a new idea they think they can implement to help people be safer, or something happens that exposes a major safety problem. F1 is of course noisier in everything than other series, so it makes sense that it’s also noisier when it comes to safety.

  12. Just a small typo @keithcollantine : “I don’t think I’d ever get strapped into a car **with** a HANS device,” he said. “So for sure it’s going to reach a bit of opposition to begin with and once people”

  13. Fudge Ahmed (@)
    10th May 2016, 1:23

    Wasn’t it Mercedes that developed the halo not Ferrari? And come to think of it how come they weren’t the first to run the prototype?

    For me there’s absolutely no question, the ‘Aeroscreen’ looks fine, futuristic even and F1 cars have had windscreens before. And from an outsider perspective it looks the safer option too, Massa wouldn’t have endured a coma had the aeroscreen been in place, with the halo there is a good chance the outcome would have been the same.

    Surprised to see Ecclestone slating it given his previously very strong ties with RB. (the historical payments deal, naming Horner as his preferred successor etc)

    1. Do we know the strength of the RBR screen?
      Would it have stopped the Massa spring? Or would it deflect it?

      Answer so far we don’t know. When are they going to test it with similar object at same speed.

      1. They have tested it @w-k, with a 1-kilo missile at 230 kph, and we can see it would have deflected Massa’s spring.

        1. Not totally convincing is it.
          Looks to me like the “bullet”, with it’s rounded front, hit at an upward angle favourable to deflecting upwards.

          Lets see it with blunt or angular object at different angles.

          1. It was a rounded contact fair enough, but it seems clear to me the screen could not possibly have failed to deflect the spring enough to miss Massa’s face instead of nearly missing it. It doesn’t need to absorb all the energy after all. And the strength is a matter of the exact material(s) and thickness, this is just a concept at this point.

      2. As I said earlier – God forbid your the Marshal or spectator when a spring, wheel or 1kg ‘bullet’ gets fired off one of those screens faster than it arrived and hits you minding your own business at the back.

        Or smashes into the pit wall ego stand.

        Of course it seems only the drivers need protecting in F1!

        1. It’s a question of probability @drg. An object flying in a random direction for a random distance has a certain probability of clearing the catch fencing, x landing in a populated area, x hitting a person(s), x hitting the person(s) in a deadly place. Multiply that out with say a 20% likelihood for each and you get a fatality 1/5^4 which comes to 0.16% of the time. This must be why we don’t hear about deflected projectiles being an issue in sportscars and tintops.

          By contrast the object was otherwise on a trajectory with a high probability of hitting a driver in the face at 200+ kmh with nowhere for his head to recoil. Maybe a 50% probability which is about 30,000 times higher.

          There are no certainties in safety, only probabilities, and the eventual number and severity of injuries.

          And also with no canopy the object would still bounce off the driver’s face and helmet to some random destination, albeit having spent more of its energy inflicting the injury, but perhaps batted forwards by the roll hoop, so the probability of collateral injury still isn’t zero.

    2. Mercedes developed the first version of the halo, but abandoned it some time ago after encountering some difficulties with its implementation. Ferrari appears to have solved at least some of them. Red Bull (Renault-powered) is coming up with a contribution that may yet become incorporated into the eventual solution. All we need now is for McLaren to contribute something to this (which I can see happening) and all 4 engine manufacturers will have put forward something to help this problem.

      I love it when the F1 powers-that-be manage to unite over something positive :)

  14. Death in motorsport is far more frequent than get’s reported on to be comfortable quite honestly. For instance, did you know that since Ayrton Senna’s passing in May ’94, 19 driver’s have lost their lives in British motorsport series ALONE?

    1. And how many were open vs closed cockpit? Dale E died in a car surrounded by a cage. Racing is dangerous so is base jumping blah blah blah…. dont do it unless youre comfortable with the risks.

      1. thats the whole point is it, and why racing in F1 sucks, nobody is allowed to take risks. Do what you are told, keep your mouth shut, bla bla bla, look good for the sponsors, keep buying …

        I understand safety, but safety with out reason, smells like politicking.

    2. Does that figure include the IOM TT, Ulster GP and NW200 ? All which are ‘British motorsport series’ although none take place in Great Britain.

  15. Hey Stefan, DONT GET IN THE CAR!

    Seriously, you know the dangers, just stay out of it. Pretty soon no one is going to watch the sport live or on TV because the cars each and every year look stupider and uglier. At what formula are we going to introduce cockpit protection? Carting?
    F1 has lost 200,000,000 viewers over the past 8-10 years and this is certainly going to make things worse. The cars sound like crap, look like crap and have drivers who take stupid risks because they know the cars are safe.
    All forms or racing is dangerous, just dont do it if you so damn worried.

    1. I don’t understand this comment. Are you for safety measures in racing or wish there weren’t any? And what are your sources for claiming the decline in TV viewing figures are related to safety measures and not to Pay-TV which there is good evidence for?

    2. There is a better idea. You stop watching.

  16. Is the FIA demanding that all country Motorsports sanctioning bodies require a “halo” in Formula Ford, Formula Mazda, Formula Whatever? How about Formula Renault 3.5, Formula 3?
    How about super-karts?

    Give me a break

    1. They’re hardly going to make that demand when it hasn’t even been properly implemented in F1. Introduce it in F1, then the junior formulae will follow suit.

      1. No they won’t actually.

        For example find any seat belts in Superkarts?

        They have been exceeding 170mph since the 90’s – although downforce is slowing them these days. Perhaps that’s a safety measures? :)

    2. The FIA will probably make the mandatory aspect gradual, as it proves itself in pricier series and obstacles to putting it on less expensive cars are removed. F1 will be first, then if it works, high-budget junior single-seater series like GP2 will likely be required to have them. Eventually all international series with open cockpits will assuredly end up with the improved head safety device.

      National car series are controlled by the national wings of the FIA, which are not bound by design decisions made by the FIA but are often influenced by them (this is why not every national series has HANS but many in countries with large amounts spent on motorsport do). So Formula Ford and Formula Mazda will probably not get them for a very long time (think a decade for the richest nations and 2-3 decades elsewhere – unless by that point a cheaper, more comprehensive solution renders the proposed one obsolete).

      Karting is recognised as a separate discipline (in the same way that rallying and drag racing are), with different crash mechanisms and considerations, and so is not expected to copy any car safety innovation unless and until it is proven to be effective in a karting context.

  17. Sviatoslav (@)
    10th May 2016, 7:28

    I am sure that if there wouldn’t be a concrete wall right after the asphalt, Justin would still be alive.

  18. Michael Brown (@)
    10th May 2016, 11:44

    I think IndyCar needs head protection a lot more than F1 does. Though, they have made an advance in safety by partially covering the wheels.

  19. Personally, I feel the Halo itself is a short-sighted solution. It’s designed to handle one or two specific types of accidents, and that’s it. I don’t like the middle bar, I don’t like the open spaces that things like 1kg springs can fly through, and I think the Halo will limit the driver’s ability to escape the car in an emergency. In other words, it has as much potential to make things worse, as it does to make things safer.

    The aero screen, perhaps even a slightly lower version, I suspect is the way to go. And since it’s there, time for some driver-oriented HUD graphics! ;)

  20. So what are peoples views on a car with a halo that crashes and lands upside down like Alonso did in Australia? How would marshals get the driver out of the cockpit in this situation as the halo would trap the driver and would they be able to get the driver out of the cockpit fast enough if the car happened to catch fire?

    1. Recent experience shows the scenario you describe is a less likely threat to driver safety than a head injury from flying debris, so the latter should take priority. This was Button’s point after Alonso’s crash.

      1. I fully understand what yourself and Jenson Button are saying but I also think that planning and training for a similar situation is crucial as a crash like that with a halo or canopy over the driver is a potential death trap and so ways of extracting the driver out as fast as possible with as little extra injury to the already injured driver seriously need to be looked at and also how a halo or canopy would react to an impact such as we have just seen in Australia as it wasn’t the first crash we have seen in F1 where the car has landed upside down and it wont be the last.

  21. spafrancorchamps
    12th May 2016, 11:56

    Am I the only one seeing what they’re trying to do here? They all know the halo and the canopy are ugly. They all know fans reject it. But they are implementing it anyway, so fans will become more open to cars like the Red Bull X2010 and the MP4-X. Those cars will suddenly look like a huge improvement from current F1 cars with a halo on it. Fans will welcome it in 2 years from now. You can wait for it…

  22. it would be vey interesting to find out if Mr Hamilton also find hat other safety devices in F1 should be made optional.

    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.”

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