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Kimi Raikkonen trials ‘Halo’ F1 cockpit protection in Barcelona

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Kimi Raikkonen has given the proposed ‘Halo’ cockpit protection system its first public trial during Formula 1 testing in Barcelona, Spain.

Following the deaths of Jules Bianchi and Justin Wilson in 2015, driver safety in open-cockpit racing has once again become a focus, with a number of steps being taken in a bid to prevent head injuries in the future.

A number of F1 teams have put forward a prototype design that could be introduced as early as 2017, but today saw the Halo – currently the front-runner – make its public debut.

The Halo bears a similar shape to a wishbone and is affixed to either side of the cockpit as well as in front of the driver, and was given its first test by Raikkonen on Thursday morning.

The Finn reported that the vision in the car was “OK” in spite of the central pillar which has been a concern for some.

Ferrari then brought the Halo design into the media centre, allowing for a closer inspection.

Ferrari confirmed to NBC Sports F1 pit reporter Will Buxton that the Halo will not be used again during testing, as it was merely a test run for the design on track.

Discussions regarding the introduction of some kind of cockpit protection for the 2017 season are set to continue, with a decision likely to be made upon the finalizing of the technical regulations.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.