Esteban Ocon, Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Todt blasts “childish” criticisms of Halo

2018 F1 season

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FIA president Jean Todt described criticisms of the Halo as “childish” and defended the decision to introduce what he believes is a potentially life-saving innovation.

Some drivers have described the new structure as “ugly” and Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff said he would like to remove it with a chainsaw. Todt said such complaints were “inappropriate”.

“I will not react to whatever has been said, it’s simply a childish game,” said Todt at a media briefing yesterday.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
Verstappen criticised the Halo for being “ugly”
“For me, I love Formula One, I think we all should love Formula One if we are in this business, all motor racing. I think it’s very inappropriate, whoever you are, to publicly deny something which is introduced.

“For me constructive criticism is always good because it makes you move forwards. But public criticism which is not good for the sport, I don’t see the value.”

Todt compared the Halo to previous safety innovations which took time to gain acceptance.

“The Halo for me is kind of like the safety belt,” he said. “I was seeing just in the corridors some photo of iconic drivers. They’ve got no safety belt.”

“More recently it was the HANS. Max [Mosley, former FIA president] imposed HANS, nobody wanted it. Now if you ask somebody to go in the car without the HANS device they will not go in the car.

“It’s a human attitude to be reluctant on a change. But once we know that the change, after a lot of experiences, a lot of testing, is good, we should implement. Can you imagine how we will all feel if something would happen if [we didn’t] have Halo and we knew if it was there it wouldn’t have happened?

“Saying that, motor racing will never be bulletproof. Unfortunately. But it has improved.”

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Criticism of the Halo from drivers is especially hard to take, said Todt, because they had urged the FIA to improve head protection.

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
Todt said drivers urged him to improve head protection
“On 16th December 2015 I got a letter which was signed by [GPDA representatives] Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Alex Wurz urging us to decide for head protection for the drivers.

“And I said, ‘We are there. We will listen.’ So immediately we asked the technical people as a priority to see what they could come up with.

“On July 27th 2016 they [the drivers] knew a meeting was going to happen and they said: ‘Don’t be weak. Please respect what we have asked you on safety’. So we committed to take into consideration their request. I feel it is a fair request.

“And here came the Halo. So I must say I am so surprised.

“You know I love Formula One but I hate this part of Formula One. Because you have people, they don’t [keep their] word. For me we are talking about the biggest asset in life: it is loyalty and [keeping their] word and having respect of what you have been undertaking. So we did respect that. And some have forgotten that.”

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Todt said the Halo had to be introduced because it has the potential to save lives.

“For me the Halo is no problem. I hope that we will have also more support from everybody – the fans, the media – for something which is for safety.

“I’m amazed to hear some people [saying] ‘OK, motor racing has to be dangerous, if it happens it happens’. I mean if we can avoid it why should we not protect the life of whoever?”

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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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52 comments on “Todt blasts “childish” criticisms of Halo”

  1. Don’t call me childish, or I gonna tell my mom.

  2. Cue the usual arguments from both sides of the fence in 3… 2… 1…

  3. lol I’m…fine…with…it…

  4. deMercer (@)
    14th March 2018, 15:12

    As far as I know, not every F1 driver is a member of the GPDA. And (some of) these non-GPDA-drivers are critizing more than a year the (introduction of the) halo. And now suddenly mr. Todt is surprised?

    1. Actually they are. They weren’t, but all are now – which is telling.

      1. deMercer (@)
        14th March 2018, 15:56

        I did not know that, thanks for the update @dieterrencken
        But still it should not surprise mr. Todt: these former non-GPDA-drivers but apparently now GDPA-drivers are critizing the halo for over a year now. I find it hard to take mr. Todt serious when he says he is surprised and calls the critics childish.

      2. Antoon van Gemert
        15th March 2018, 10:20

        @dieterrencken True, they all joined the party now, but at the time the GPDA letter was send to the FIA, requesting for more head protection, I’m quite sure Max Verstappen, one of the biggest Halo-critics amongs the drivers, wasn’t a member of the GPDA. At the end he was probably all alone as a non-member, so he had no option then grudgingly join this club to get rid of the criticism being the only non-member.

        1. With all due respect, I have never known Max to do anything to quell criticism. If anything, I would have thought that if he was vehemently against Halo that would have provided reason enough to not join GPDA.

  5. For me, I love Formula One, I think we all should love Formula One if we are in this business, all motor racing. I think it’s very inappropriate, whoever you are, to publicly deny something which is introduced.

    I am not a critic of Halo myself.

    However, I have concerns over any suggestion from the President of the FIA that Formula 1 drivers shouldn’t publicly criticise a regulation or feature introduced by the FIA.

    Regardless of whether it’s intended to improve driver safety or not, drivers should be allowed and feel free to speak out against any regulations the FIA introduce if they honestly feel strongly about it.

    1. I see how a driver constantly complaining about regulations could be bad for promoting the sport, but if some of those complaints did not ressonate to the audience they would simply fade out.
      Nobody asks driver about income tax regulations, because very few fans would relate or care if one has to set residence in Monaco to avoid taxes. But when a driver talk about a regulation problem sometimes he has just reflecting on a problem fans already talked about.

    2. Also fairly hypocritical to complain of public criticism from drivers when they’ve decided to publicly air drivers’ meetings to sell the F1 product.

  6. Anyway can be critical and offer an opinion, you’re right, but then they should also accept criticism and contra-opinions in return. That is what happened here – Todt did not ban the drivers from criticising Halo, just gave his opinion about the debate.

    1. Mickey's Miniature Grandpa
      14th March 2018, 16:12

      Kinda sounds like Todt’s simply tired of constantly being asked effectively the same question about the halo. Hopefully ongoing work will refine it into something markedly less ugly and it will just become part of the furniture like HANS, high cockpit sides, etc.

      Welcome, btw. Nice to see a heavyweight of your calibre on the crew, our Keith’s pulled off a major coup :-)

    2. @dieterrencken And called everyone else “childish” for criticising it. Which was pretty foolish before taking into consideration that some of the objections are safety-related (and based on the very video the FIA released in an attempt to prove the Halo’s safety bona fides).

  7. chupmelajapi
    14th March 2018, 15:31

    Todt your love is killing F1…

    1. I suppose F1 wouldn’t want to take a child’s money for race tickets, souvenirs, or OTT broadcasts either.

    2. I agree….

  8. I think that the halo will do what it is designed to do, though I agee with those who say it is ugly and may actually have a bad effect on forward vision. My personal feeling is that the windscreen design currently being tested by Indycar would have been a better choice and that the FIA did not thoroughly investigate the windscreen options. Seems as if the halo was the clear choice before any serious testing was done. I thinkthe biggest danger is from objects coming at the driver from the frontand that the windscree does a better job of deflecting those objects. The material Indycar is using is 0.4 inch thick and extremely strong whereas the FIA only tested flexible materials and materials that shattered before rejecting the windscreen approach. The Indycar design is also perfectly clear and without optical distortion as the published photos of the Dixon test demonstrated. Finally, Indycar’s windscreen looks much better and F1 cars have had windscreens in the past.

    Having said all of that, the halo’s here, and the drivers and fans just need to adjust to reality. Maybe if Indycar adopts the windscreen and proves to work F1 will swallow their pride and adopt it in place of the halo. Maybe…

    1. Luke Harrison
      14th March 2018, 19:29

      Seems as if the halo was the clear choice before any serious testing was done.

      Just because it wasn’t always tested on a track, doesn’t mean it wasn’t seriously tested. I’ve posted stuff on this before, but the FIA Institute has been testing this sort of cockpit protection for a very long time. Here’s a video from 5 years ago;

      The biggest issue that should be taken is that the FIA set itself a deadline and that the Red Bull aeroscreen or the shield Ferrari tested were sidelined because they did not have enough time to hit that deadline. And what we ended up with was the fully tested FIA version.

    2. @gwbridge

      My personal feeling is that the windscreen design currently being tested…

      How does this not make sense to people. The clue is in “currently being tested” … as in not finished testing. Why do people insist that the teams should have fitted a not fully tested design to their cars for 2018 instead of the fully tested halo.

      It’s very simple. Halo design is ready. Indy car design is not. Maybe in 2019 F1 will adopt something like the Indy car screen.

  9. Halo is an abomination. Seat belts and hans didn’t completely destroy the look or DNA of the sport, it’s completely different.
    I will never spend a dime on f1 while they run that turd thong.
    Please just retire JT. Pleeeasssseee

    1. Talk about hyperbole. It’s not great but neither were the raised cockpit sides initially. I personally have already got use to it and look at the car now—not it. More important is that it will save lives.

    2. Luke Harrison
      14th March 2018, 19:30

      Do you feel the same way about the high sided cockpits that started to appear in the mid 90s?

    3. *facepalm*

    4. Please explain what the DNA of Formula 1 is!

      For me its change, constant development, faster cars, safer cars.
      For me its not “it should be like it always was2, then we coul have frozen the regulations in the 50s…

  10. Time to put the drivers in the garage, racing the cars using fly-by-wire and real-time video monitoring. That way, no drivers can get hurt, even in the most horrific accidents. As a bonus the cars would no longer require a halo. In fact, the cars would require no safety provisions for a driver at all. Development and engineering costs for cars would be slashed dramatically as a result.
    The technology to implement this is here, now. The benefits to the safety of the drivers is incalculable, absolute guaranteed 100% safety. If people are against this idea then they have no heart, must not love the sport – or at least not love the drivers – and probably were against seat belts and HANS devices when those were proposed.

    1. Agree.

      Although… 3D Driver Avatars that we could actually see in the car on TV could be fun.

      Todt cares about driver safety in the purest political sense. Forcing F1 to display the Todt Thong on every F1 car is a first and foremost an important political power statement – under the guise of ‘driver safety’.

      Now that Bernie has left the circus, Todt can play emperor for a day.

      1. If people are against this idea then they have no heart, must not love the sport – or at least not love the drivers – and probably were against seat belts and HANS devices when those were proposed

        Yeah because that’s how logic works. But you know well done illustrating Todt’s point on childishness.

        1. Martin,
          Please explain your point, because so far you have failed. Explain the logic behind marginal safety at any cost, i.e. halo, but not taking that to its logical conclusion, as i detailed, which is real safety.

          1. Please explain your point, because so far you have failed

            I don’t need to explain that your post is illogical in the same way I don’t need to explain that your post wasn’t written in German. It is just a fact of life.

            If you don’t understand the difference between wanting to partake in an activity safely and not partaking in that activity at all then I don’t think I (or anyone) can help you.

            Do you want people who go sky diving to have their reserve parachutes removed? Because you know if they don’t want to skydive without a reserve they could just not sky dive. You make no sense.

            Nobody has banned driving outright because it the safest approach, but by the same token car manufacturers have not stopped striving to make their cars as safe as possible. I really do not understand how you don’t get this, it is really simple.

  11. Oh for freakin sakes, give it up! This is hardly the end of F1 so get a grip.

    1. Jean obviously thinks it is, so quite how anyone else is meant to disagree is a mystery.

  12. So objecting to a bad idea is childish now?

    This sort of comment is inappropriate for someone in Jean’s position. If it is that good, he should be able to either ignore the criticism or simply reiterate the cause for which it was introduced – either way, without needing to bring attention onto the comments of the naysayers at all. Or if he believes he can engage effectively with such opinions, to use conventional ethical means to do so and not resort to petty insults or attacking a thing which was not said.

  13. Apart from the Halo bit, I object to Jean’s characterisation of HANS as something nobody wanted. If the F1 Magazine issue from the time is anything to go by, it was 50/50 – though given that the “anti” crowd including the fairly noisy Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villenueve, it is perhaps understandable that Jean overlooked that people like Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa were in favour, and the likes of David Coulthard were on board once the invention of the double-belt system (invented by DC) during winter testing made the device practicable for those drivers who found the original unusable.

    By the second race of the season, there were queries about why Rubens Barrichello gained a medical exemption from using it in Australia. The next race (Brazil) included a number of minor tests, and it is telling that none of the many crashes (including Fernando having a fairly substantial argument with a tyre that sent him to hospital) produced so much as a concussion. There were no objections after that.

    I find it striking that Halo, which was about 50/50 at one point, has become less popular, not more so. This is not a promising trajectory for a device that is meant to at some point be accepted.

  14. Antoon van Gemert
    14th March 2018, 18:22

    Well Mr. Todt, I will never ever support the biggest mistake F1 ever made! Of course safety is important, but the measures to be taken have it’s limits and the Halo is way over this limit. Comparing the introduction of the Halo with the introduction of safety belts is sheer nonsence. Safety within motorsport simply evolves with time, but still there are limits. You have good measures and bad measures and the Halo belongs to the bad ones. A good one was the introduction of the higher and padded cockpit sides in 1996, that probably saved the life of Jos Verstappen when he had his big crash at Spa in the Arrows that year. Also the introduction of the HANS-system in 2003 was a good one. Halo-critics are tent to be labeled as reckless F1-fans, who don’t care about the safety of the drivers, but that’s so untrue. The Halo threatens the DNA of Formula 1 and that shouldn’t be the case. Think of all the risks Moto-GP riders have to take, because they reached the limits of safety a long time ago. Surpass this limit and you will damage the sport in a big way!

    1. Agreed. I also use the Moto GP example. If Todt was in charge of Moto GP they would probably have 4 wheels by now. :-)

      1. @vjanik

        Never mind the Halo. The F1 engineers nursing the F1 drivers over the radio destroys any comparisons to Moto GP.

  15. And we still don’t know just how safe the halo will actually be, in terms of visibility in real time racing situations.

  16. I you don’t like something Jean did you’re just childish – and he said it first so you can’t say it back. I don’t know how many people out there are saying that F1 should be more dangerous than is necessary, it’s much more the unilateral imposition of gawd awful fugly design that has most people riled I think.

  17. Step back and consider Jean’s position. He’s obliged to say things like this, has to even.

    1. Ok. Let’s step back and consider the petulant FIA President’s perspective. In politics, which is Todt’s area of expertise, demeaning critics of your new ‘halo’ symbol of ruling power is key – dissenting opinions will not be tolerated. Got it.

      1. Lol. Not exactly what I meant but pretty close!

  18. The Halo is not an “innovation” like the HANS device or safer barrier walls.

    Enclosing drivers in an enclosed cockpit is not new. The Halo is simply a half-assed cockpit, and a half-assed attempt at safety.

    1. +1
      I was going to write something similar. Calling the Halo innovative is just ridiculous.

  19. Halo is temporary till something better designed comes along. I mean anything will look better than this. Take the hit Jean, don’t be so sensitive. Cant imagine anyone likes it, but its not about that is it

  20. exactly. as if a roll cage in an open wheel formula car is new. I remember a few guys putting roll cages in their Formula Fords back at SCCA regionals in the 1970s.

  21. I think that one of the “problems” with the halo is that the fans of F1 hold the designers in such high regard that we look at the halo and wonder if it was designed on the Friday afternoon before a long weekend. It doesn’t look like the elegant solution our eyes expect, so when we see it, our eyes and brain say Ewww!
    When watching testing, every time a car went by my eyes went to the halo thinking there was something wrong with the car and then I realized it was the halo. I’m fairly certain I’ll get used to it in time although I don’t think it will be before the Canadian GP.

  22. A simple poll: Should motor racing (Formula one specifically) be dangerous?

    1. …Yes or No?

      1. Antoon van Gemert
        16th March 2018, 8:09

        @swh1386 It says so on the tickets: “Motorsport is dangerous!”

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