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F1 tech chiefs back Halo delay until 2018

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Technical bosses from a number of Formula 1 teams have offered their support to the decision to delay the introduction of frontal cockpit safety to cars until 2018.

Following the deaths of F1 driver Jules Bianchi and IndyCar’s Justin Wilson in 2015 from head injuries sustained while racing, cockpit safety has been high on the FIA’s agenda in 2016.

Teams were invited to submit designs for cockpit safety systems, leading to Mercedes’ ‘Halo’ making its debut during testing in Barcelona in February.

Further tests took place across the months that followed, with Red Bull’s alternative ‘aeroscreen’ also breaking cover.

However, the F1 Strategy Group decided at the end of last month to veto the introduction of the Halo or any other device until 2018, citing the need for greater research and testing as the reason for its delay.

Speaking in the FIA press conference over the German Grand Prix last weekend, a number of technical bosses expressed their support for the decision.

“I think a lot of research has gone into it over the years. I think we started looking at it in 2013 or something like that,” Manor’s Pat Fry said.

“But I think you have got to find the right solution and I think it is just that little bit too early isn’t it to try to rush something through this year.”

“I think if we had another 12 months we can clearly do a better job of it,” Mercedes’ technical chief Paddy Lowe added.

“There are things that are not 100% satisfactory. I think the key thing is to make the best of these next 12 months and make something that ticks all the boxes and meets all the requirements of safety and otherwise in the sport and then we take it from there.”

Red Bull’s Paul Monaghan said that the Halo did not offer a firm solution that was effective enough.

“It’s close, but it’s not yet a thorough solution and I think if the sport is to do a thorough job then the Halo, or any other derivative thereof, needs a little bit more research, a little bit more work,” Monaghan said.

“Yes, we’ve run it at one track, one lap, with our test driver and I wouldn’t have said that’s really the mechanism by which we should introduce such devices and I think it’s the right call to defer it.”

Ferrari’s Jock Clear stressed the need to make use of the additional 12 months afforded to ensure that some kind of system was ready for 2018.

“I echo everybody else’s thoughts. Obviously the one thing we want to try to do is use those 12 months,” Clear said.

“As Paddy says, 12 months down the line we’ll know a lot more, but we don’t want to ease off, we don’t want to say ‘OK, so we don’t have to worry about this until August next year’.

“I think the teams will be responsible with it and I know Charlie [Whiting, FIA race director] will and we’ll use those 12 months and get the job done properly.”

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).