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F1’s Halo offers surprise benefit, blocking low sun

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Mercedes Formula 1 junior George Russell revealed a surprising benefit of using the much-maligned ‘Halo’ cockpit protection device after his maiden test on Wednesday: it blocks low sun.

F1 officials announced last month that the Halo would be introduced to F1 for 2018, dividing opinion throughout the paddock and wider motorsport.

Russell was entrusted with the Halo’s first public test since last November’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix during the post-Hungarian Grand Prix running, completing laps with the device attached to his Mercedes W08 car.

Visibility has been a big talking point with the Halo, but Russell was pleasantly surprised by his experience, particularly when the sun got low towards the end of the day.

“I had a much better view with the Halo than I expected. When the sun was coming down at the end of the day, it blocked the sun from my eyes, so I actually saw more than I would usually see when the sun is low,” Russell said.

“From a driver’s perspective, the visibility is completely fine. The only hindrance could potentially be seeing the start lights. Getting in and out of the car with the Halo takes a bit of experience. I struggled initially, but after a few trial runs I was fine.”

Russell, 19, spent two days with Mercedes in his first F1 run-out, with his regular commitments lying in the GP3 Series.

“I was very pleased with the test. I managed to get through the two days not so physically tired,” Russell said.

“I feel like I could have done even more laps. It’s obviously extremely tough driving the 2017 car. And there’s no rest at a circuit like this – especially in 36 degree temperature. I was playing it safe because I knew I had two days in the car with lots of mileage planned.

“I wanted to do a good job for the team and tick of all of their test items. We didn’t focus on coming out on top of the timesheets. We came away from this test learning a lot. From our point of view we took everything away we needed to.”

Hartley’s F1 grid penalty streak continues in Abu Dhabi

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Brendon Hartley’s record of receiving a grid penalty at every Formula 1 race he has started is set to continue in Abu Dhabi this weekend after Toro Rosso was forced to change part of his Renault power unit following the last race in Brazil.

Since making his F1 debut at the United States Grand Prix last month, Hartley has faced a grid drop at all three races he has started so far amid ongoing reliability difficulties for power unit supplier Renault.

After being forced to retire from the last race in Brazil two weeks ago due to an engine issue, Hartley has received a 10-place grid penalty for Abu Dhabi after it was confirmed Toro Rosso had changed the MGU-H on his power unit.

Hartley is yet to score any points in F1, having retired from two of his three races so far to make his debut run to P13 in Austin his best result to date.

The Toro Rosso driver finished 20th in FP1 and 19th in FP2 during Friday’s practice sessions in Abu Dhabi as he continued to get to grips with the Yas Marina Circuit.