Driver vote casts doubt on Halo

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In the round-up: The FIA’s plan to introduce the Halo device in 2018 hit a snag after a majority of drivers vote against it.

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Should we value ‘battles’ higher than ‘overtakes’?

I’ve always felt that a good/close battle for position that features the possibility of a pass with a few decent attempts thrown in there can often be way more engaging and exciting than an actual overtake.

Those two races at Imola in 2005/06 being a prime example. Neither fight for the lead featured an overtake yet for those 10-20 laps I was on the edge of my seat, heart rate up glued to the TV because while nothing ended up happening the possibility was always there for the car in-front to lockup, run wide or for the car behind to just take a dive or something.

The unknown and prolonged nature of those battles created far more tension and excitement than if the car behind had just turned up and got past relatively quickly.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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80 comments on “Driver vote casts doubt on Halo”

  1. Nit-pick, 7 out of 16 is not a majority.

    1. Welcome to Brexitland!

    2. Tommy Scragend
      2nd February 2017, 0:12

      By expressing “no preference”, four effectively abstained. An abstention is not a vote cast, which leaves 7 out of 12, which is a majority.

      1. I saw it as 6 out of 22 abstained and 4 were undecided, either way 7 drivers do not constitute a majority even if they have stronger feelings about it than the other 15.

      2. Lies statistics and damn lies !

        1. ExcitedAbout17
          2nd February 2017, 8:54

          I just held a quick vote amongst the 22 drivers and myself.
          100%* disagree with you.

          * I received 1 valid vote!

          1. Hahaha. I am going to base all my future decisions on this genius process.

          2. hahahaha – make that 2 valid votes. :)
            i think its good thing the way this votes gone- how distracting will and great peice of metal in your face be – plus it will obstruct vision.

      3. and 17.4 million out of 46.5 million is also not a majority (unless you were in that 17.4m).

        In elections that actually matter, rarely does a winner get more than 50% of the possible votes. But they do get more than anyone else and that is accepted. Same case here.

    3. It would be nice to know exactly what the question was the drivers were asked.

      1. Yep, the wording of the question matters.. a lot.

        The only thing that really bugs me as a ‘fan’ about the halo design pictured is how it mucks up the lines of the car and makes me think anyone driving a car with it would get a massive headache.

        I’d prefer a “halo” design that had separate right and left hoops that followed the lines of the cockpit and met in the middle below the driver’s sight-line.

      2. We’re they offered a hard or soft halo?

        1. A red, white and blue one.

          Just adds to its looks.

    4. Indeed, inside the article they mention that there is not a majority (of the drivers) in favour of introducing it currently (i.e. 16 of 22 bothered answering, 7 were against it, 5 in favour and 4 were neither in favour nor against it).

      1. If only 7 out of 22 are explicit against a halo, I don’t find that a majority. The other 15 aren’t against it or couldn’t be bothered apparently.

        1. THat is the point @matthijs. There is NO majority in favour of the Halo. But indeed not a majority against it either although of the drivers who have a clear idea on it, there are more against it than there are clear fans of it.

          1. @bascb I agree with you.

            In the end this driver vote only proves that there is no majority in favour but also no majority against the halo, so the people in charge can decide in favour of against the halo and use this driver vote to back up their decision.

    5. So they decided to ask the drivers their opinion on the halo. I’m the only one thinking this was not a very bright idea?

      Not all of them have tested it. The device lacks reliable results to prove that it works, which in cases, such as Massa’s and Justin Wilson’s and most likely Jules Bianchi, it probably doesn’t. And they make this question while there is another solution that has to be further evaluated.

      How would these guys have a definitive answer, or an opinion even, if they don’t possess all the information to make an appropriate decision. We cannot be surprised that 10 drivers have no idea what to say about it.

      I really don’t understand why FIA is trying to push the halo, it doesn’t make any sense, it is not like there will be someone gaining from making them, from what I understood each team will have to manufacture their own “version”. I’m all up to improve safety, but surely the brightest engineers in the Motorsport industry can come up with something better than that. And I don’t care if the final result is ugly or not (with had phallic noses), but make something good, share the test data with everybody, let everybody try it, and then, only then ask them their opinion.

      BTW we should be allowed to curse on this website, just to relieve the frustration.

      1. Just one point there @johnmilk. They do NOT “have another solution that has to be further evaluated”.

        The article mentions how the RBR proposed aeroscreen was not considered a workable solution, first of all because teams feared that Newey already has it calculated to give him an unfair advantage, but also because it showed significant lapses in what is is supposed to do (i.e. protect a drivers head) AND gives so far unsurmountable issues with visibility in the wet.

        The Halo did get through all the tests, and did show it helped protect the driver. Not against everything (what can), not perfectly. But possible, workable and predictably. They did show quite a lot of evidence of that. The biggest issues with it remain extraction of a driver in accidents (which the FIA claims they resolved, but I am not sure enough evidence of that was shown) and the question whether a Halo car is still true to “open wheel, open cockpit”. Well, and the issue of it being far from good looking.

        1. did not know that @bascb, I was still thinking that the aeroscreen was an option (thanks for the info). I wonder if visibility in the rain would be that much of a problem considering their speed, maybe the setback comes from drops of rain in the helmet visor that aren’t washed, because the helmet is no longer in direct contact with high speed air.

          Still, they should make all drivers test it in order to ask them their opinion (or at least ask the GPDA to arrange a series of tests with current and former F1 drivers to reach a better conclusion).

          It would be nice to see it in other materials also, like polycarbonate, maybe it could reduce some problems with visibility.

          I understand that a bit more protection is better than nothing more at all. But there is still one year to further improve the halo or develop other solutions. We had too much of rushed decisions already in F1, I just think it would be embarrassing to push it into 2018, just to take it back a couple of races into the season.

          I personally don’t mind about the closed cockpit thing, as long as we can see inside of it. And yes it is not very good looking, but it is poorly integrated, at least the ones we saw, if it is implemented from scratch in the design of the car, it will probably look better.

          1. @johnmilk “Wonder if visibility in the rain would be that much of a problem considering their speed, maybe the setback comes from drops of rain in the helmet visor that aren’t washed, because the helmet is no longer in direct contact with high speed air.”

            The aeroscreen does not have tear offs (I presume) so there is no way to clean it on track. Furthermore, an aeroscreen will have many more aerodynamical implications than the halo where the air can run through.

          2. It’s not clear that the Halo constitutes a net safety improvement either. The FIA claimed that it deflects 16% of debris outwards but didn’t mention how much was deflected in. (Unless the FIA has invented phase barriers, some of it must). That they’re polling about it rather than mandating it for 2018 tells me that the safety argument for Halo, despite the outward claims, is inconclusive. (If it was worse than inconclusive, drivers wouldn’t be polled either – it would be just plain dropped).

            Yes, the Halo probably does protect against large-object fatalities, but Felipe Massa will tell you that small-object fatalities are also possible, and it does not good to save one driver from dying from an errant tyre if the method ends up contributing to killing two from springs and debris showers.

          3. @matthijs the tear offs are used to clean dirt, bugs, etc. They don’t actually do anything in the rain.

            The aeroscreen could be shaped in order not to get a lot of dirt (if it has a big inclination it should be a problem), and it could be cleaned in the pit-stops.

            But these are thing we don’t have to worry, as mentioned before it has been discarded already.

          4. An aeroscreen currently can almost certainly not be shaped to do that @johmilk at the speeds we are talking about here and the materials available.

            Water, bugs, oil, and probably most important rubber bits will all be sticking to it like a grubby film. And distortion from the curvature as well as the waterdamp settling on the inside will all be extra issues that they would need to solve.

            Over time, the materials might be there with nano materials.

    6. The more i think of this, the more curious it becomes @hohum, @matthijs, @drycrust

      Let’S have a look at this. So the FIA asked 22 drivers. But which drivers were they? Did they ask those that were racing the cars at that moment? Why would they ask Massa and Button about it, when both were retiring. And not Vandoorne, or indeed Haryanto, Stroll, and in the same vein, why not all the reserve drivers?

      Surely all of them would have been more likely at that point in time to even drive the cars than two retiring drivers. And if they asked the question after the season, after they confirmed their testing (that was december) then they would have been asking 3 drivers who were stopping!

      If I remember correctly, all three of those were rather in the “pro” Halo camp, so does that mean they account for 3 of the 5 “in favour” drivers? Or did they ignore the letter because they were quitting the driving, leaving it to others?

      Also I think that is is pretty much as expected that driver against it are more likely to say so (when asked by the FIA) while others are more inclined to leave the decision to the people who study its design and safety, probably because they expect the experts to be able to make a better judgement.

      Overall, it just shows how “polling” and referendum with a “yes/no” modus are not great to base any significant desicions on.

      1. @bascb they asked them in the 10th of January

        1. which makes it even more curious @johnmilk! Because, which 22 drivers did they then ask? As far as I know on the 10 of January there were only 20 drivers who were contracted to drive F1 as race drivers. And off course an assortment of other drivers who might be considered reserves.

          It begs the question even more who they did ask and why.

      2. it just shows how “polling” and referendum with a “yes/no” modus are not great to base any significant desicions on

        Amen to that.

        1. @john-h @bascb

          This is so spot on. Being against the halo is not equal to being against head protection. Take me for example, I am in favour of more head protection but against the halo because I feel that there must be better options.

          The outcome of the driver vote is ‘useless’ because
          1. you still don’t really know what drivers want
          2. the people in charge can either implement or reject the halo and both options can be backed up by this driver vote (“the drivers want us to do it”)

    7. #notmyhalo!

      1. @leejo Beyonce seems to like the halo

  2. All praise the COTD. @stefmeister “gets it”.

  3. I think the key on COTD is that an overtake was although hard very much possible, in fact it almost happened a couple times. When an overtakes is impossible then there’s a problem that’s a procession.

  4. Why would 6 out of 22 drivers not even respond to the FIA survey? I mean, it’s not like they were being questioned about what kind of breakfast cereal they prefer. I’m disappointed that they didn’t care enough about the issue to even say that they didn’t have a preference.

    1. @ferrox-glideh take a look at what I said in the first comment of this thread. Maybe it will change your mind a bit

      1. I actually think that the halo design is ingenious and the simplest, cheapest, and most organic solution available now, and probably in the near future (until material science comes up with a non-distorting, water/oil/rubber resistant canopy). I have been following the reported test outcomes and have been impressed. Many driver’s who have used the device have said that it didn’t interfere with their visibility. I value the driver’s opinion on such matters more than marketing people or fans who see the problem as one of aesthetics. I see the halo system as an opportunity to go forward with the question of safety in open wheel/ cockpit racing. I am disappointed that professionals who risk their lives for our pleasure can’t be bothered to be involved in the process, even if they are not engineers themselves.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      2nd February 2017, 11:45

      @ferrox-glideh – Be very interesting to know who they are. I bet it’s 6 drivers across 3 teams.

      1. I hope that it was drivers who hadn’t tested the device yet.

  5. Wow, that Motorsport Magazine op/ed is incredible.

    1. That was the best F1 article I’ve read in ages. The personalities of the sports top engineers is something that is not usually focused on, yet it is fascinating.

  6. “Lewis Hamilton’s Ex-teammate” on the headline.

    I think that says more about the information being presented than any of the following sentences.

    1. THe headline if full of ***p. It “reveals what he told Bottas”, so you read down, only to see Rosberg mentioning that he did NOT tell Bottas “Lewis’ secrets” but instead “remains neutral” between them @faulty, so yeah.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        2nd February 2017, 11:48

        @bascb – it’s from the Daily Star… Saying it’s quite bad is like saying “Ferrari is quite red”

        Anyone who has ever seen it already knows!

    2. THe headline if full of more nonsense. It “reveals what he told Bottas”, so you read down, only to see Rosberg mentioning that he did NOT tell Bottas “Lewis’ secrets” but instead “remains neutral” between them @faulty, so yeah.

  7. Great article Keith. On the flip-side, perhaps you could also do an article of the occasions where the impossibility to overtake has resulted in some of the worst F1 races to date..?

    People often look through rose-tinted glasses, but I’m sure those that sat through the ‘Trulli-train’ races of the 00’s don’t want to see a return to that style of racing.

  8. Nice interview with Hamilton. Most of the times these official F1 interviews aren’t much, but I like this one a lot. Who knew that Lewis reads the Alchemist and I did not know that he had stopped eating red meats. I guess that does show that what meats you eat have an effect on your health!

    1. Doubt how honest the Call of Duty choice was considering he had a commercial thing with them by appearing in the game.
      It would have been funny if he said Battlefield, lol.

  9. Jean Todt’s comments highlight how out of touch the FIA are with the fans.

    I would also put money on that Kimi wasnt one of the ones to respond about the halo!

    1. I remember Kimi being interviewed about the halo after he tested it, and he felt that it didn’t interfere with his driving at all. I bet that he did respond to the FIA survey, because he is very professional when it comes to driver feedback.

  10. What 22 drivers? There are only 20 in 2017?

    1. they send it out in the 10th of January @jaapgrolleman, at that point in time, 22 drivers were expected to race. You can imagine that at least two that did not answered the survey were the two guys that lost their seats

      1. Ehm, yeah @johnmilk, but which ones are they? At that time we probably had only 20 drivers contracted to drive (neither Manor driver was confirmed) and you might add in Button who has some kind of contract with McLaren, bringing it to 21 drivers (but if we ask him, shouldn’t we ask ALL reserve/3rd drivers too?). Including a rookie who never raced an F1, nor even drove it with other drivers on track at the same time as far as I am aware.

        Overall @jaapgrolleman ask the right question. It makes it all very murky to me.

        1. the thing makes no sense @bascb

          They want to implement it in 2018, at least make the question mid-season and make them all try it out

          1. Honestly, am convinced that no “vote” by the drivers should even be part of the equasion @johnmilk.

            Have the current drivers (and I am all for it to have the likes of Wurz, De la Rosa, Brundle, Coulthard and possibly others too drive the car with it installed too) use it, get their feedback, see if it can help improve the thing. Looks should possibly be a part, but not a very important one.

            Visibility IS important, but even those that are critical, after trying it they mentioned more that they dislike the principle, with trouble getting out of the cars in an emergency the second most important objection.

            If the Halo is the thing the FIA can introduce and it will help considerably with safety – they DO need to show that clearly to everyone during this year. Put a show car with the Halo in every race “village” at tracks and at airports and shops so that people can sit in them and see for themselves – then they should introduce it. At least until they can find something more effective.

            I do wonder about their cooperation (or lack of it rather) with other series, like Indycar. I understand their cars are only getting a small transparent “deflector”, like a slightly higher version of the current strips that are on cars already. How does the safety improve with that compared with a Halo (I get that the Halo limits visibility too much on ovals?)

          2. I don’t agree with you only in one detail. I think the drivers should test it.

            Because even if it the best possible solutions, if they don’t try it out and it becomes mandatory, they will moan about it (remember the hans device?).

            Maybe not Kimi, he will say something on the lines of: “Bwoah”

          3. Well, off course they should test it. That was what the FIA did LAST year. If they want to introduce it for 2018, they should decide to do so by about april, when work on the 2018 cars gets going full steam @johnmilk

            Any later (they have until after the summer officially) and it would again be slapped onto chassis that are not designed around it, and it would then be better to fix it for 2019 instead. That is why we cannot wait too long anymore. Teams were asked to try it out last year, they confirmed that they would and most drivers did get at least a session with the thing on the car.
            Kimi was amongst the first to try it out. After doing so, he remarked that it did not hurt visibility and that he was ok with it.

            I think you missed how much work etc was already done on this thing. Is it the best solution? Hard to tell. I suppose that the FIA showed the teams more detailed information than they gave to fans, and that it was convincing enough to do it.
            If not, that might explain why they are now backtracking (asking the drivers and bringing out the “results” the way they were now files under that nomer for me, unless it was just because of RBR “leaking” info about the letter to the German press – both they and Mercedes seem to have good ties to AMuS).

          4. Yes they did it last year, but not all of them, and surely some of the ones that the vote was addressed to didn’t test it. That was the point that I wanted to pass, if you are asking drivers to vote, at least let them all try it (or at least the ones that were asked to vote).

            Lets make it clear that I am not against it, I just think something better could be achieve (and yes I know that is easier to say than to do)

            They have a very good chance to try it out again at the end of the month, and a few practice sessions to finish it up. As you say, it has to be properly integrated in the chassis to at least improve the aesthetics of the thing.

            They might have done a lot of work on it, but we have seen it getting shot by a tyre and in some practice runs (in the installation lap in some cases), that is pretty much it.

            In the recent fatalities/injuries that we had in open cockpit racing, it would probably worked in the Surtees accident, the others not so much. So if it really goes ahead, I hope it is a first iteration, and they keep improving it or develop new things

  11. Shame we don’t know who was for or against the halo, in my particular case it would perhaps have an effect on who I support.

    1. Its really that important for you?!?!

      1. It is important because the experience of drivers like Kimi, Lewis and Nando is a lot more than that of drivers like Stroll, Ocon and Wehrlein.

  12. Lewis Hamilton’s ex-teammate….

    Because simply calling him Rosberg is what…too mainstream?

    1. Because if they had just said Rosberg most people would respond with “Who?” *shrugs*

      1. Evil Homer (@)
        2nd February 2017, 12:55

        2016 World Champion.

        1. Your point?

          1. Evil Homer (@)
            5th February 2017, 12:26

            My point is most people wont shrug and say ‘Who”?, then know who the champ is and you were being disrespectful.

  13. Michael Brown (@)
    2nd February 2017, 12:43

    Thank you for the birthday shoutout

    1. happy birthday!

  14. Evil Homer (@)
    2nd February 2017, 13:04

    The drivers don’t want it, and rightly so! They know what they signed up (and get paid) for!

    I have said this before and I asked Jolyon Palmer before his first race in an open Renault Q&A and he said “NO!”. Asked a few more as getting a photo with my lad and they all said no. Seb is the only one I think really wants it to be honest.

    FIA don’t want it! Its makes the sport look worse that it is to the non-F1F at the moment, and that’s not good. FIA are doing “Due diligence”, done their part, drivers the same, will say no for so many logical reasons and we can move on- No BE and no Halo talk…………….. maybe there is a light…

  15. Would the Halo have helped…

    Henry Surtees in his accident? Yes.
    Maria de Villota in her accident? Yes.
    Jules Bianchi in his accident? Probably, yes.
    Felipe Massa in his accident? No.
    Justin Wilson in his accident? No.
    Fernando Alonso in Melbourne? Hard to tell, may have hindered his escape.

    The problem from the very beginning with the Halo is that whilst it protects against large objects like tyres, it doesn’t help protect drivers against smaller airborne objects and it may well hinder their escape in the event of a large crash.

    Frankly, I think they need to go back to the drawing board.

    1. @joshgeake, I question your assumptions 2 and 3. 2 on the basis that the intrusion was off-centre and at eye height, 3 on the basis of the forces involved.

  16. Ford also said in that interview that they use their autosport series’ as testinggrounds for the technique in their roadcars and that they see much more ‘real-world relevancy’ in series like GT etc.

    What I don’t understand is, why does it always have to be road relevant?! Marketing is primarily about reaching your targetgroup isn’t it? A car manufacturer like who invests heavily in sponsoring soccer is doing that because of the exposure. Not because soccer is ‘road relevant’.

    Besides, touring cars/rally cars/GT and other sports cars have álways been more ‘road relevant’ than the upside down rocketship that is F1 (or was anyways).

    To me F1 should go to a more simple and cheaper version of a V6 or V8 twin turbo hybrid engine (much like indycar has done) to cut cost and make sure they reach lot’s of people (less ‘paywall Sky F1’ and more netflix-style or ‘NBA league pass’ type of app with highlights on free to air TV and lots of stuff on youtube etc to attract new viewers) with a thrilling product on track (financial parity and aero/mechanical grip that allows wheel tot wheel racing). If they do that, I recon manufactures like Ford or Mercedes will eventually come back and pay through their nose to be associated with F1 because people watch it like soccer. Road relevancy is not actually relevant when it comes to spending marketing bucks…

    1. @jeffreyj, but it is relevant in the R&D budget, if you can kill 2 birds with the one stone you may be prepared to pay more for that one stone.

      1. @hohum I get that but I think it’s not good for the sport. These powertrains are extremely complex yet extremely underwhelming, making F1 lose it’s wow factor. They’re the single biggest reason for the lack of competativeness at the sharp end of the grid and they’re extremely expensive, not helping as half the field is trying to hang on for dear life already.

        Did you know Indycar has a V6 twin turbo with 600bhp at an annual price of $700.000…… F1 engines are €25.000.000 a year. That’s crazy man. And yet we never get to see any good info graphics that show us any of the fuel efficiency differences, or where and when drivers (or rather the engine map they choose) is harvesting or deploying. We have no clue what’s going on other than that we know they are technical and expensive and take away from the sense of speed with their underwhelming sound.

        1. @jeffreyj, No, it was the clown tyres that couldn’t live with the massive torque these engines produce that robbed us of competitive racing. Mercedes invested EU 7.6 Billion in R & D last year, they could afford these engines even without their prizemoney, the fault lies with the FIA not introducing a price-cap ( price, not spending ) for the supply of engines. Do the indycar engines sound so much better ?

          1. 7.6B sounds a bit high.. sure it wasn’t 760m?

            The indy’s sound better than F1. Obviously I’d rather see a supercharged V10 with 20.000+ engine but the turbo is on all the new engines nowadays and is here to stay(even if we’d be going to a V10) as it’s much more powerfull and efficient.

            My point was mainly that the boring Merc dominance is mostly about the engine compared to Renault, Ferrari and Honda. That’s not on the tyres. My second point is that it’s also rediculously expensive. Your point on price-capping is a great solution btw.

          2. @jeffreyj, Really 7.6B, had just read an article (autocar ?) about MB regaining top spot back from BMW, admittedly a lot of that research has gone into electric, autonomous cars.

          3. @jeffreyj, further thought: How good are the classic car races going to be when we are all driving around in autonomous electric bubble-cars.?

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