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.
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.”