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Horner: Halo introduction to F1 for 2018 ‘a shame’

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Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner believes the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection device for the 2018 season is “a shame”, but understands the FIA’s reasons for doing so.

The FIA confirmed ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix that the F1 Strategy Group had approved the Halo’s introduction for 2018, marking a first step for the sport in its bid to improve cockpit safety standards.

The move has split opinion throughout racing, with Horner expressing his regret over its introduction, particularly given the added weight and its appearance.

“I think the FIA have made the decision, and I understand the reasons they felt compelled to make it, but personally, I don’t like the Halo,” Horner said.

“I think it moves away from open-cockpit racing, which Formula 1 has been.

“There are obviously challenges with it. It is quite heavy.

“We have been given an extra five kilos of weight allowance to implement it, but it’s not very pretty.

“It’s a shame it’s on a grand prix car for next year.”

Red Bull F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo shared Horner’s uncertainty about the Halo, admitting he is concerned by the negative reaction from fans.

“I was in favor of head protection. Do I think the Halo is the best thing? I’m not convinced,” Ricciardo said.

“It’s difficult. All I’ve heard so far from fans is negative comments so that worries me. I know we are the ones in the car and our safety is important.

“But at the same time – obviously it won’t happen – but if every fan suddenly walked away from Formula 1 there wouldn’t be any F1 probably.

“I’m surprised they pulled the trigger on it because not everyone was in favor of it.”

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.