Mercedes AMG Motorsport

F1’s Halo offers surprise benefit, blocking low sun

Leave a comment

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.”

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

Getty Images
Leave a comment

There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.