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.
“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.
“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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