‘I don’t want F1 to be closed cars’: Shield fails to win over Halo doubters

2017 F1 season

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The FIA’s new head protection concept for 2018, dubbed Shield, has not won all the drivers over to the idea of partially enclosing the cockpits.

Speaking in today’s official press conference ahead of the Russian Grand Prix Romain Grosjean said he wasn’t in favour of either the Halo, which was tested last year, or the new Shield proposal.

Pictures: Every 2016 F1 car with a Halo
“Can we choose nothing? Because I haven’t been a big fan of the Halo and I’m not a huge fan of the Shield either,” he said.

“I don’t want to stop the safety, I think safety in Formula One has to be a number one priority. I just don’t want to change what I’ve known as Formula One since ever.”

“And the next step is just to put a closed canopy on top of the helmet. I don’t want to see Formula One being closed cars.”

Grosjean isn’t the only driver who still opposes the plan to introduce a new form of head protection in 2018. Daniil Kvyat said he “agrees with Romain”.

“I think it’s enough for now,” said Kvyat. “The way the Formula One cars should look should remain the same. I think we have enough protection so far. If they are good ideas they should be considered but so far I am quite against it to be honest, both those options.”

Other drivers were more open to considered Shield as an alternative to Halo.

“We got a presentation in China about the new Shield,” explained Daniel Ricciardo. “We’ve still obviously got to see a bit more but first impressions seemed OK.”

Russian Grand Prix build-up in pictures
“I guess we’ve now got to try and get some development on that, start to run it in some practices as soon as they can get it on the cars and get some more feedback on it. It’s good that they’re still looking for this head protection stuff, that’s positive.”

Valtteri Bottas said he “doesn’t mind the Shield, I think it looks OK. It’s definitely a good step compared to the Halo.”

“I wouldn’t mind trying out the Shield, see how it is for visibility, and if there’s any other issues” he added. “I think for safety it would be a good step compared to what we have now.”

However Kimi Raikkonen doubts whether the Shield offers a significant step forward over the previous design.

“Until we try it’s very hard to say how it is,” said Raikkonen. “Is it better visibility than the Halo? I don’t know.”

“Look-wise I don’t think there’s an awful lot of difference between either of them.”

The FIA intends to commence track tests of the Shield later this season.

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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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48 comments on “‘I don’t want F1 to be closed cars’: Shield fails to win over Halo doubters”

  1. Ferrari, Seb fan
    27th April 2017, 14:59

    I don’t like it. It doesn’t have any protection.

  2. I oppose both. Let’s look at it from a logical point of view. Would you put either on a motorcycle?

    1. Well, I wouldn’t put 4 wheels on a motorcycle either… Besides, a motorcycle actually already has a shield

      1. Dunno what motorcycle has a shield (apart from windshield that offers no protection) whenever I have come off first thing to hit the deck is always my ass

  3. Why not a see-through canopy like on fighter jets? That would be the perfect compromise. Open cockpits are an unnecessary and an uncontrollable danger that no open wheel driver should have to put up with- but I would like to see the driver’s helmet.

    1. Evacuation of a driver from the car could become a problem. Unless they put fighter jet style ejection seats as well ;)

      1. Yeah we’ve debated this before. A bolt-on fighter jet canopy first of all would massively change the aero characteristics of the car and so couldn’t be done without going way beyond just bolting it on, right from the getgo. There’s the extraction issue as you mention…what if the car is on it’s lid and the drivers head should be stabilized before they flip the car upright? What about cleaning the windshield? What about rain days? What about condensation inside? Or the greenhouse effect? Put in fans, or air conditioning? Where? At what weight cost?

        F1 and the FIA are not stupid in spite of whatever criticism they take from all kinds of aspects. If a solution was easy they’d have implemented it years ago.

        1. @robbie
          All the points you mention apart from extraction has already been solved in all non open wheel cars.

  4. Canopy easily tops the list of bad ideas to improve safety. I mean, there are other options capable of doing the job without scrapping the whole “open wheel racing” thing.

    1. It effectively kills wet weather racing, something we’ve only just seemingly got back!

    2. Michael Brown (@)
      27th April 2017, 18:52

      @jcost BTW open wheel means the wheels are exposed.

  5. It’s not won me over either. It’s been like this since F1 started, why change it now?

    Don’t forget this has come about in response to a death which any such device wouldn’t have prevented anyway

    1. Which is the most important note according to me.
      This halodebacle is a response to a death that occured because they continued to race after a crash in aquaplaining conditions. No halo would help Bianchi or any of the marshals which was put in mortal danger because of irresponsible descisionmaking.

      1. @rethla

        This halo debacle is a response to a death that occured because they continued to race after a crash in aquaplaining conditions

        No it isn’t. This is a misconception which comes up repeatedly.

        The work on this began years before Bianchi’s crash. And the FIA report specifically stated that increased cockpit protection would not have saved Bianchi, so even if it had been about that, there would have been no point in continuing this work.

        1. Yeh ofc. theres been talk of more headprotection for as long as anyone can remember but nothing substantional. This sudden surge of safetyminded FIA sprung to life after Bianchi and they need something to point at when they pat themself. Before Bianchi they pointed at “not a death in F1 for 20 years”.

          1. No it didn’t, it’s been a case study years prior as @keithcollantine just told you. You can easily go look up when the FIA tested the Canopy system, and an earlier version protection system that seems to be what RBR’s “solution” was inspired by. The canopy they tested worked great, the problem then became extraction.

            All of this was reported back in 2011. The reasoning given was because of Felipe Massa horrible near-death situation, and the death of Henry Surtees. It then continued forward into what we’re seeing now when the idea of a canopy wasn’t given much liking because of the negatives it posed that didn’t currently exist. This is the reasoning and true translation of research and development in head protection, it has nothing to do with Bianchi as sad as his death was. Not sure why people want to hold on to their opinion’s when they aren’t factually valid @rethla

        2. Whatever the reasons FIA and other authorities give for erecting
          driver protection above the cockpit sides ( and they are many and various ! )
          the step they would take in removing the driver even further beyond what’s
          acceptable to most fans as open cockpit/ open wheel racing.

          We’ve come a hell of a long way from drivers sitting in unstrapped seats,
          with minimal head and neck protection and virtually zero medical support.
          And until Bianchi died in an incident that could and should have been prevented
          by much smarter and stricter race control, we have had very few fatilities in the
          past twenty years. A staggering contrast to the days when there
          was an expectation that there would be at least one fatility every F1 season.

          But we already have drivers whose faces we can see nothing of. We already
          have superb medical and emegency back-up. We already have very stringent
          rules about on-track safety.

          Sadly, I predict that if this cockpit enclosure plan is actually invoked, a
          very large numberof current F1 fans will ask themselves why they bother
          to watch a sport where the driver has become as remote from them as
          drivers in enclosed cockpit or saloon car racing.

          Yes, I am as well aware as anyone else that fatilities must not
          happen any more. The problem is one of making the driver safe without
          destroying what little is left of true open wheel/ open cockpit motor racing.

          I honestly believe the planned Halo/Shield device will tip the balance of fan
          participation beyond recovery.

    2. This isn’t due to the death of Bianchi, it’s due to the death of Justin Wilson, who would have survived had there been something to deflect the nose away from his head.

      That being said, the Indy car is a different animal to an F1 car, but, should they implement something like this, it should be implemented across all the FIA controlled open cockpit formulas as they are each susceptible to the same risks and the last driver in one of these formulas killed I believe was Henry Surtees driving in F2 (Brands Hatch, July 2009), when he was hit by a wheel that had detached and broken its tether.

      1. For me more research money/time into tethers would be the sensible approach. Wheels should not come off, period. The crowd does not have Halo or ‘shield’.

    3. FlyingLobster27
      27th April 2017, 16:45

      I’m afraid you have forgotten, @strontium. The head protection project was initiated after Surtees’s death. Bianchi’s death, even if a Halo likely wouldn’t have saved him, may have accelerated proceedings (a little), but the idea was around before that. This video of a canopy test was put online in 2011.

    4. I completely agree. There is always going to be an element of risk in motorsport. If this makes you afraid then don’t do it.

      F1 has done everything it can to make the cars as safe as possible. I prefer the concept of the of the shield to the halo but F1 cars have always had open cockpits. Take this away and it’s just not F1 anymore.

    5. @strontium

      It’s been like this since F1 started, why change it now?

      Sorry, can’t resist https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_W196

      1. (yes, open wheel =!open cockpit, but both seem to sort of be seen as part of F1’s unchangeable DNA, while for a (very) short amount of time one of them has actually been “violated” already.)

  6. Estaban de los Casas
    27th April 2017, 17:13

    Improve the bad ideas of F1 FIRST, like DRS (the dumb racing system) before adding another like the HALO toilet seat. Seems like most drivers would prefer to just leave things alone and fans cant decide which is the best of the worst ideas either. Lets go racing

  7. Protect the drivers. All other arguments are weak. Ask Grosgean which driver is next,just so he can drive an open wheel car.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      28th April 2017, 13:29

      How far do you go though? Even with head protection, a driver will die at some point. Should we just not race at all?

      Poor Billy Monger lost both legs recently in a crash with a stationary car. How do we stop that? Run all motorsport as a time trial so only 1 car is on track at a time? It would save lives so is any argument against it weak?

  8. Some years ago Mark Webber had a rear wheel pass within inches of his head during a race, so there should be something in place.
    As a casual glance it seems to me this year’s cars have had less close contact accidents than with the previous generation of cars. If so, this is a good thing.
    Many other Health and Safety procedures and practices, once people get used to the new way of doing things they hardly notice it, and I think it will be the same with drivers’ protection, if it is done properly then it won’t become a sore point.

    1. I fully agree… After Ayrton Senna’s accident, the design was changed so that the drivers head was given much more protection, which reduced the visibility of the driver to what we have today. The reaction surrounding that was much like the reaction surround Halo and associated devices. Step in a few years and drivers weren’t happy about the introduction of one of the most effective safety innovations to hit Motorsport, the HANS device, which would have saved the life of many drivers over the previous years of motor racing.

      It’s just another safety item, which, no matter what design or guise is going to be controversial, until it saves a life. After a few years, it will be accepted as a part of the formula regardless.

  9. “I don’t want change.”
    “Ok then please go and have a lie down and let everyone else get on with life in the meantime!”

    Open wheels and open cockpits are SO backward and anachronistic … the first cars about 130 years ago were open cockpit, and open wheels (just remove the mudcovers to save weight) were thought to be innovative more than 100 years ago.

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      27th April 2017, 18:55

      @schmorbraten It’s only an aesthetic argument now. Closed wheels and cockpits are more aerodynamically efficient.

    2. We should also close the motorbikes obviously.

    3. I don’t understand, if there is so much wrong with everithing F1 is and does, why are you following it at all?

  10. Josh (@canadianjosh)
    27th April 2017, 19:44

    I’d bet money we ll never see F1 with either. It seems like talk talk talk.

  11. If Safety really is the #1 priority, they could just not race. That’s bound to be the safest. Clearly there are other things more important than safety.

    1. But there is nothing more important for F1 than to have the illusion of safety first.

      1. Clearly racing will always have some inherent danger. So does crossing the street. Crossing the street has probably killed thousands more people than racing. F1 has never claimed to put safety first and Jackie Stewart was the one that really put much more emphasis on safety in people’s hearts and minds.

  12. Maybe F1 should start to think about a whole rethink of that actual car. Maybe they should shift focus to something like the Renault R.S 2027 Vision Concept car. If thats were we are heading with F1, lets not bother with shield or halo and really move the future forward. I think RED BULL did a concept with covered wheels and Shield?

    1. If you want to see racers with some balls at least we still have MotoGP, WSBK etc.

      1. Well said!

      2. I still would rather it was kept open cockpit, just to clarify.

  13. safety should not and never should be the number 1 priority. the safest thing to do is to wrap them up in cotton wool and dont have a race at all.

    safety is on the list of priorities but not at number 1.

    having a fast, open cockpit racing formula is the number 1 priority, safety comes somewhere after that.

  14. safety ? make the wheel larger, and let the car got double or even triple or quad difusser
    when driver cant overtake anymore the race became 100% safe, just a parade of expensive car

    or make the car just a huge remote controlled car driven from a playstation-like console

    no one will get hurt anymore

    that is the pinnacle of motorsport (??)

    1. steveetienne
      28th April 2017, 8:46

      how about a bigger helmet on top of the normal helmet

  15. *Insert any change, no matter how small, and watch the crowd react*

    Murder! This is F1 murder! Get the pitchforks and torches, boys! We have another idea to stab, smash and burn.

    It’s just an elongated windshield guys, not turbo jets. Guess what they ran decades ago:

    You know what’s the most shocking about this? If it gets introduced next year, it will have taken 9 years for that FIA to find a solution to avoid what happened to Massa. It should have been introduced much sooner.

    It’s like people complaining about the government wanting to plant down electric windmills when you have one from the 17th century 500m from your house.

    1. If you’re suggesting this elongated windshield would have helped Massa, I don’t think so. And 17th century windmills are not modern electric behemoth wind turbines.

      1. Point being if it has been at least 9 years then a solution is obviously not easy. You can’t simply bolt on a solution to a car that’s not designed to have said solution, but rather need to redesign the car to integrate a solution, and that’s a massive expense and a massive risk of turning away the audience by changing F1 as we have become accustomed.

        1. Oh yes, it actually would have made a difference. Simply because instead of a head-on collition which happened with Massa’s helmet, you’d go to a glancing blow where a lot less energy is taken out of the spring and instead deviate it around/over the driver. If even needed as the windshield will rise the airflow higher over the driver, changing the vector of the spring as well even before contact with the windshield. That’s not something difficult to understand, and the specific reason why they mention an “elongated” windshield.

          Furthermore, I find the notion that you can’t bolt on a solution on a car that is not designed for it, simply untrue. That’d be true for lap performance, but not for aspects like safety (in this case). It would simply impact car performance, something for the teams to deal with it as that’s their problem. I’ll give you a much more extreme example than an ordinary windshield: the plank under the floor as a reaction to Ayrton Senna’s death. A decision taken and implemented in 3 months which has a huge lot more of aero stability (and hence safety) implications as the floor is both the biggest contributor to downforce and the most sensitive to it. Now if you implement that wrong you’d have cars loosing suddenly massive amounts of downforce. Yet they worked out a working a sensible solution within 3 months which still stands up to this day. A windshield would have annoying airflow implications to the rear wing and airbox, but again that’s something for the teams to deal with it and it does not make the flow unpredictable.

          No reason to beat around the bush; the real reason why have not seen any real solution to Massa’s accident, is because the FIA has become too much a bureacratic ‘authority’ without any relevant political weight behind it. Too scared for people with pitchforks and torches.

          And please let’s be real: F1 survived slong nose cones, platypus noses, L-shaped sidepods,… . I fail to see how of all things a windshield, even used in the earlier days of F1, is going to affect audience. Oh but the audience is crying murder and does that look like pitchforks and torches? No worries, the FIA will just crawl back in its hole and leave all the unsolved issues well… unsolved.

  16. Does F1 need more safety?

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