© Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel: ‘Halo’ would have saved Justin Wilson’s life

Leave a comment

Sebastian Vettel believes that the ‘Halo’ Formula 1 cockpit protection system would have saved the life of IndyCar driver Justin Wilson after trialling a prototype on Friday.

The Halo has been designed as part of an ongoing push to improve driver safety in single-seater racing following the deaths of Wilson and F1 driver Jules Bianchi in 2015, both as a result of head injuries.

Wilson died one day after being struck on the head by a piece of debris during last August’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, marking the first death in IndyCar since Dan Wheldon in 2011.

The Halo enjoyed its first public run-out on Thursday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya after being attached to Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari for a short run in the morning.

Raikkonen said that it did not reduce his vision as much as he expected it to, but the rest of the paddock was firmly split in opinion.

While Nico Rosberg said that he was “all for it”, Lewis Hamilton called the Halo “the worst looking mod in Formula 1 history”.

Vettel did a short run using the Halo on Friday morning, and said that it did not impact on cockpit vision too much.

“Well I think first of all to go around is OK. You can see what you need to see,” Vettel said.

“I think we can improve the system in terms of aesthetics and also in terms of how much visibly is in your way. Tested as well in the simulator and I think we will see probably evolutions of it very soon.”

Vettel believes that the Halo would have saved the lives of both Wilson and Henry Surtees, who died after being hit on the head by a tire during a Formula 2 race in 2009.

“In principle, I agree it doesn’t look very nice. It’s not the picture you’re used to from Formula 1 for a long time, but equally it helps increasing the safety and helps saving lives,” Vettel said.

“There would be at least two drivers in the last four years that I remember that would still be around – Henry Surtees and Justin Wilson – if we had this type of system.

“I think it can be as ugly as possible. I think nothing justifies not having these guys around any more.”

Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

Ker Robertson/Getty Images
Leave a comment

NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?