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.”