Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Spa-Francorchamps, 2016

Track tests planned for ‘Shield’ head protection to replace ‘Halo’ for 2018

2017 F1 season

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Formula One is to test a new alternative head protection system for 2018 dubbed ‘Shield’ instead of the ‘Halo’ concept which was trialled throughout last season.

Halos, 2016
Pictures: Every 2016 F1 car with a Halo
The FIA announced it will begin tests of the new solution, which is being “given priority”. Halo was tested by every team during 2016 but failed to win favour among many drivers, particularly due to its poor aesthetics.

Some drivers also questioned whether Halo would present an obstacle to leaving the cockpit in an emergency. Others believed the other safety gains it offered outweighed these concerns.

“A number of more integrated solutions for additional frontal protection have been studied,” the FIA said in a statement today, “and the decision has been taken to give priority to the transparent ‘shield’ family of systems.”

“The FIA aims to carry out track tests of this system during this season in preparation for implementation in 2018.”

Plans to improve the head protection afforded to F1 drivers have gathered pace following a series of incidents involving debris striking racers. In 2015 former F1 driver Justin Wilson was killed when he was struck by nose section which had come off another car during an IndyCar race.

Another alternative design proposed by Red Bull, dubbed the ‘Aeroscreen’ was tested during practice for last year’s Russian Grand Prix. However the design did not perform sufficiently well when tested to be considered as an alternative to the Halo.

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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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  • 46 comments on “Track tests planned for ‘Shield’ head protection to replace ‘Halo’ for 2018”

    1. Personally I think they missed the boat and should have considered redesigning the entire car to properly incorporate a closed cockpit, maybe moving toward some of the concepts designs we’ve seen lately. Without that, the cockpit protection will be closer to a bolt on aftermarket part rather than an integrated part of the entire car design.

      1. I agree, only for the next set of rules.

        1. But aren’t you talking about a massive cost and a massive risk in making F1 cars no longer look as we have been accustomed for decades? It’s not that I’m against change, but I think that is something that would need tons of research and consideration and agreement amongst the teams…nothing that can be implemented for several years imho.

          1. Michael Brown (@)
            25th April 2017, 23:41

            @robbie Absolutely agree with the research. While I think the halo is safer, I don’t see a solution that completely protects against debris. Small debris can get past the halo. The aeroscreen presents cleaning difficulties and there is no protection for above the driver’s head.

            And before all of that, there was the canopy. There is the issue of extracting the driver in an emergency or when the car is flipped.

            Personally, I think a redesign is in order. That will take time and money, and the aesthetic change is going to alienate fans. I don’t care about the aesthetic argument, but F1 losing a lot of viewers this way would not be good.

          2. But aren’t you talking about a massive cost and a massive risk in making F1 cars no longer look as we have been accustomed for decades?

            Really, both of those arguments have a poor foundation to them. They completely ignore the element of risk to the driver while racing, and instead rely upon vague cost and aesthetic reasons to not have enclosed cockpits for the driver.
            Looking firstly at the costs, my understanding is most F1 teams completely redesign their car chassis from one season to the next, and in that context I don’t see a chassis designed for a canopy as being significantly more expensive than a chassis designed to not have one.
            The idea of “looking different” as an argument against a life saving device is one fraught with danger. It says it is better to have something looking “cool” than have something that is actually safe. Your argument should be “I don’t like that design of canopy” or “I don’t think there is sufficient risk to justify a canopy” because those arguments imply either the element of risk to the driver isn’t what you are arguing about, but the appearance of what is protecting them; or you are arguing the risk of serious injury or death is negligible and on those grounds the canopy can be avoided.

    2. Ferrari, Seb fan
      25th April 2017, 20:32

      What is the ‘shield’?

      1. Ferrari, Seb fan
        25th April 2017, 20:33

        And does it protect drivers?
        I hope fans don’t go on again that it is to ugly etc.

        1. sorry , but it is fugly.

      2. The non-Biotic equivalent of Barriers :P

        1. Ferrari, Seb fan
          26th April 2017, 8:03

          @velocity boy
          Thanks

          It dosnt seem to have any protection from top or from angle though

      3. Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division

    3. If Tony Stark is the head of engineering it has my vote already

    4. I don’t see why they don’t just have a little screen rather than the ugly screen that autosport posted (http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/128914), if they’re intent on doing something like that. Yes, aerodynamics etc, but they can still angle it properly, and all of the teams would have it the same.
      And what happens when bugs etc die all over it, limiting your vision? With helmets, you can just take the strip off and it’s gone, but with these you’d have to wait until the pit stop for it to be cleaned.
      Honestly I think the cars are perfectly safe right now. I mean, look at Hungary 2015, when Hulkenberg’s front wing exploded and sent debris into Kvyat’s face, and he wasn’t injured at all. The last case of debris hitting a driver on the head was 8 years ago, and although it could still happen, it’s not a common occurence, and, especially in the rain, I think a screen type thing could be even more dangerous.

      1. It is safe enough until the next one, if it is a weak point regarding safety, and if it can be improved no matter unlikely the incidents are its worth the trouble.

        Also you are referring to Massa’s incident in F1, but there was more, Wilson and Surtees for example. If we can avoid those we should

        1. I see what you mean – We don’t want to wait until something bad happens before taking action, but we have to make sure that it’ll improve all situations, including wet weather so it won’t vastly decrease the visibility, before it can be thought about. If they can make some sort of windscreen wiper type thing then I’d be much happier with it, but if it’s just glass then I’m a bit sceptical. Of course it would improve the situations they want it to improve, where debris’ flying, but it could hinder other situations.

          1. That’s why they are going to test it. They decided that the halo was no good and moved on to another solution.

            After this if they are satisfied it will be implemented, if not, they have to move on again

            1. Halo was succesfully tested and passed all the requirements. The only reason why the cars don’t have the halo is because some people thought it was ugly. But as far safety goes halo was a good solution.

              To say halo was no good is completely false.

            2. passed all the tests for big debris, like tyres. for incidents like Massa’s it wasn’t a good solution

              either way it was more an expression, you should get my point

            3. Actually I believe the halo was causing some overheating issues such is the way it was affecting airflow.

      2. Never mind a piece of polycarbonate at that angle will be so optically distorting, a driver would probably get seasick looking through it.

    5. It looks better than the halo but I would think it would distort the drivers vision. Personally I still prefer open cockpits.

    6. sheild instead of the ugly halo = very good
      restrictions on the T wing and shark fin = very good
      plans for noisier cheaper and simpler engines = very good
      Things are moving in the right direction !!
      Next GET RID OF the ugly ridiculously overadvanced FRONTWING
      bring in 3 more teams and Level the playing Field !!!
      then we really will have the F1 the fans want.

      1. Fukobayashi (@)
        26th April 2017, 10:10

        Can’t disagree with any of this, particularly regarding front wings!

    7. I have the same view I’ve always held on this matter. The improvements since the 1950s have been huge, but F1 has always been fundamentally open wheel and open cockpit, and in my view, that should stay as it is without being diluted any further. There are plenty of reasons why they should improve safety, but these are drivers who have been going at 200mph for years, and that is a risk they ought to accept. There is a risk in anything anyone does in day to day activities, but how much should we change for the sake of safety?

      You can keep bringing in safety features to F1 and in the end you would have to stop the sport altogether

      1. @strontium Apart from the years when the non-Brackley Mercedes dominated, anyway :)

      2. Agree 100%!! The is no requirement for additional head protection in F1. I’ve been saying it for years. Aside from Massa’s freak heave spring accident in 2009 (which is fast approaching 10 years ago!) there have not been any head related injuries and in all off the ‘close calls’, which have mainly involved cars in accidents riding up over another and potentially encroaching into the cockpit area, the raised side protection has done it’s job and oddly enough protected the drivers head.

        And no the Halo, aeroscreen or shield will have done nothing to prevent what happened to Jules.

        Health and safety gone mad! I am glad most of the drivers have now come out against Halo and I’m sure it will be the same with the shield. It’s all just unnecessary.

        That is not to say that there it isn’t a problem in other series, just stop meddling in F1 unnecessarily.

    8. MrF1GuyV12POWAHHH (@)
      25th April 2017, 21:53

      Why not full cockpit protection? A shield won’t do that much for safety

      1. Then you want F1 cars that no longer look as we have been accustomed for decades and instead would have cars that look more like Lemans style? They simply cannot bolt on a canopy to the cars as we know them.

    9. Would the shield cause visibility issues, especially in a wet race? If so, i think the lack of visibilty is alot more dangerous than the protection it provides.Will the shield have a roll of clear film that can be advanced like the on board cameras or will there be NASCAR style windshield tearoffs. It would certainly lead to more pit stops

      1. Can you imagine the aero advantage the teams would try to get out of a windshield wiper? Just like the cheap triple blade “louver” wipers for Ford Escorts they sold at the parts house in the 90’s next to the plastic chrome hubcaps. LOL

    10. Michael Brown (@)
      25th April 2017, 23:45

      In my opinion, a redesign is necessary for full cockpit protection. I am thinking along the lines of a car with a closed cockpit and doors, sort of like a small LMP car. I believe Ferrari released a concept of such a car a few years ago.

      I think a car like this would still be F1 because F1 is about single seater cars. As long as that does not change, you can do what you want to the cars.

    11. I’m so glad I chose to go to Silverstone and Suzuka this year. I’ll get to see these new aggressive cars in the flesh, without some stupid, ugly screen next year onwards.

      I’d prefer no protection whatsoever, but if there has to be something in place, the FIA and all teams should take the proper time and investment to develop a fully closed canopy. They’ve been trialling the halo for over a year now with mixed results, but at least every team tried it (albeit just in practice – not in the rain, race conditions or at the start of races where contact is often made). They’ve given themselves even less time to test this shield device.

      1. If you want motorsport to be dangerous then you must think that the recent accident of Billy Monger was a positive thing? Danger doesn’t exist in vacuum. Danger means people actually dying and getting seriously injured. I’d guess for some people the blood and gore would make things interesting but personally I don’t really see the point of killing and injuring people just so some people can sit in sofa and watch the bloody mess unfold.

        With no protection at all we will have people burned to death, people concussed to death, people losing their legs, losing their hands, losing their ability to walk or even move their hands. We see people losing eyes, fingers, toes, hands, legs… just because someone enjoys watching death and carnage…

        1. So surely you’re so appalled by the obvious risks of motorsport, that you’ll now decide not to watch any motorsport? I personally don’t think there should be no protection whatsoever, but I believe the protection we have at the moment is good enough – and I don’t think anyone here ‘enjoys watching death and carnage…’ As I said below, if you truly believe there should be no injuries whatsoever, then why stop at the shield/halo. Why don’t we all campaign for a virtual series where incidents like Billy Monger’s would never happen?

          1. As long as all possible measures as taken to make the sport safer then I’ll watch it happily. I’d not want to risk the lives of drivers, spectators and stewards just so someone can line their pockets and make more money out of blood and carnage. Once you start increasing the risk on purpose to make it more dangerous so that more people will die or get injured then I’ll obviously stop watching. But at the same time if it is still dangerous even when all precautions are taken then it becomes a much harder question. Case in point is the isle of man tt event.

            Also f1 is probably a lot more safe than something like bicycling, football, lacrosse, horse riding… And different forms of racing are differently dangerous. Something like touring cars are probably really safe whereas karting or motorbikes or american short track racing are more dangerous. It is not easy to find actual statistics though:
            http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/nascar-auto-racing/thatsracin/article9152399.html

        2. Fukobayashi (@)
          26th April 2017, 10:16

          @socksolid I think you took his sentiment a little far there.

          Why doesn’t NFL just play Madden instead? That way nobody will ever get a concussion again!

          1. I’m assuming He Man meant no added protection such as a halo or a screen, and is not advocating literally ‘no protection whatsoever.’ Sheesh…let’s be reasonable here.

          2. NFL is simply doing their best to delay things as much as they can. The concussions are causing tons of damage in NFL and in all junior leagues leading into NFL. The money is just too good so they are just doing their best to make it last as long as it can.

    12. Motor sport is inherently dangerous, as it should be. If anyone – drivers, stewards, fans feels it is too dangerous, I can’t understand why they don’t follow another form of motorsport. They should accept the risk if they want to be part of the sport.

      You have to wonder where they’re going to draw the line. The halo was great for deflecting big objects, like flying wheels (when was the last time the wheel tethers didn’t work?) but not so great for deflecting small objects like Massa in 2009. So improvements are still needed.

      The Aeroscreen was great for deflecting small objects, but buckled under large loads. The danger is still present so improvements are still needed.

      Perhaps to keep the drivers completely safe, the cars should be controlled via remote controls with the drivers sitting in the pits. That way, if there are big crashes, the drivers are safe.

      But maybe the spectators, stewards and pit crew are still at risk? Well then perhaps we should limit the cars to lower top speeds. Or better yet, make F1 a virtual sport, so there is no risk to anyone whatsoever.

      Who decides to draw the line? Do people decide ‘Yep, this is an acceptable amount of risk’? It’s such a subjective thing. Surely you’re all for safety, or not at all.

      1. I think the topic has gotten a little out of hand, at least amongst us armchairers. I think the idea of the halo or some such device as they have been considering came about particularly from large items such as tires coming down on a driver and killing him, such as in Indycar.

        I think they have been hoping to be able to bolt on a solution that can add some protection from large debris due to a couple of incidents in the US. I don’t think they were ever trying to solve the problem of every small or large piece of debris from hitting the driver ever again. It was always about primarily tires from other crashed cars hitting them from above.

        I think they have found that it is nearly impossible to just bolt on a solution without greatly affecting the performance of cars that were not designed to begin with, with a halo or what have you on them.

        I feel bad for F1 in a way. They’re trying to do the right thing but seem to be getting raked over the coals as if it is some easy thing to implement, when indeed to get even partial protection let alone the full protection people seem to think should be easily achieved, is in fact very difficult unless they are prepared to re-write history and totally change what an F1 car looks like relative to what we have become accustomed.

        This latest screen they are proposing seems to me quite ineffectual for the original purpose which was about large debris from above but I suspect is the only thing they can bolt on that won’t require a complete rethink from the ground up.

        To me it is obvious that this is way more difficult than most posters imagine.

      2. If I can recall, the last time the wheel tethers didn’t work was during Kyvat’s huge qualifying crash in Suzuka 2015. Nearly smacked Bottas’ Williams as well.

        1. or the wheel rolling down pit lane a few years ago that hit the camera man. Tether doesn’t do much if the wheel isn’t bolted on.

    13. Personally I think they should stop screwing around and either:
      – Change the formula and design a fully enclosed cockpit like LMP1
      or
      – Realize that this is an open cockpit formula and abandon the idea.
      All this talk about small debris is nonsense, that is why they wear helmets. There is certain risk to open cockpit racing as there is with open wheel racing but to fanny around with trying to fully surrounding the cockpits so they aren’t technically “closed” but kinda accomplish the same thing is rubbish.
      Close em or don’t close em.

    14. I am at the point where I really don’t care too much for F1 any more so if they add that monstrosity I will finally be able to drop this pastime.
      I have tolerated the new ‘noses’; the elimination of refueling; the 6 cyl hybrid bs, t-wings, lift and coast race strategy to save fuel, engineers driving the cars, etc.
      What next? training wheels to prevent spinouts in the rain? 4 cylinder engines running on fryer grease to save the environment?
      In the end, F1 will do what it does best: Implement lame changes to utterly kill the premier, open wheel racing series.
      Oh, yay-I can’t wait. (sarc off)

    15. Marc Saunders
      27th April 2017, 15:02

      The Halo is OK but was not properly integrated. One solution could be to start at the mirror mountings and build the front part without the middle pillar.

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