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Philippe Bianchi calls on FIA to “go further” than ‘Halo’

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Philippe Bianchi has called on the FIA to “go further” than the ‘Halo’ prototype in its bid to improve driver safety in Formula 1 and prevent serious head injuries.

Philippe’s son Jules Bianchi died last year from serious head injuries sustained in an accident at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix nine months earlier, where he collided with a recovery vehicle after going off track in wet conditions.

Bianchi’s death was followed by that of IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, who was killed after being hit by debris during the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on August 23.

In response to these deaths, the FIA has stepped up its bid to improve driver safety in F1 by inviting teams to submit possible designs to increase cockpit protection.

The Mercedes-designed ‘Halo’ prototype made its public debut in Barcelona on Thursday, and was greeted with a mixed response after being tested on Ferrari’s SF16-H car.

Speaking to French TV station Canal +, Bianchi Sr. said that although ‘Halo’ was a definite step in the right direction, more needs to be done as he doubts it would have saved either his son or Wilson.

“I consider that this is a step forward in term of security. It is obvious that in the case of when a wheel comes off, this system would be effective,” Bianchi said.

“However, in the case of small debris, as Felipe Massa and Justin Wilson had, that wouldn’t have changed anything. So this is a step forward, but it does not solve everything.

“For Jules, it would not have changed nothing, because it’s the extremely violent deceleration that caused the damage that we know to his brain.

“I think developments of the HANS system to better absorb big deceleration in a severe impact could help in this case.

“The FIA ​​wished to act after Jules’s and Justin’s accidents, but it must go further.”

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

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“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).