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The Halo Debate: Inevitable evolution of safety or a fundamental departure from the ‘formula’ that is Formula 1 [Part 2: Team and Driver Opinions]

The Halo Debate: Inevitable evolution of safety or a fundamental departure from the ‘formula’ that is Formula 1 [Part 2: Team and Driver Opinions]

[To place this article in context and to view my thoughts on why the halo device stands alone from any previous safety device previously implemented into Formula 1, please read The halo debate part 1].  The 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix ‘weekend’ was barely a day old (Thursday morning) than attention turned to the response from … Continue reading

Scott Dixon's Ganassi Indycar sits in the pits at the ISM Raceway in Phoenix fitted with the prototype screen the sport hopes to help aid increased driver safety. Following a largely positive review from Dixon, the device has further intensified the criticism of the halo device imposed by the FIA upon Formula 1 for the 2018 season. The screen device favoured by Indycar has garnered support from fans for its aesthetic appeal, protection of drivers from smaller debris, and respect to the forever-held tradition of open-cockpit cars. Indycar will further test the device with a view to introducing it in 2019, pending further positive reviews.

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Australian Supercars

Ahead of the opening round of the 2018 Australian Supercars Championship at the Clipsal 500, an ABC article entitled ‘Is the humble car race a dying art’, has focused on how the one of the biggest Australian Motorsports event is increasingly reliant upon events off track to draw big crowds. With crowds last year being the lowest seen in 15 years, Supercars General Manager of Corporate Affairs Cole Hitchcock pointed to a 3.1 per cent increase in attendance in 2017 and a 16 per cent increase in television ratings on last year, to suggest the series is only growing.

Indycar World Series

Scott Dixon has trialled the Indycar windscreen protection device at the ISM Raceway in Phoenix. Upon trialling the device Dixon provided very positive reviews and was surprised at the lack of distortion/reflection on the screen from varying different light conditions and sources. The only areas of concern for the four-time champion were ventilation and the need to adapt his eye line through the very thick screen.

While not to everyone’s liking, the process behind the testing of the screen and it’s appearance has been applauded against that adopted within Formula 1 and the implementation of the halo device for the 2018 season.

Where the halo device has drawn criticism for its appearance and violation of the forever-held tradition of closed-cockpit racing, the screen on the Indycar retains the open-cockpit format of the car by increasing the size of the windscreen to levels rarely seen in the sport previously. What has not been revealed by Indycar is the strength of the screen device and the maximum weight of objects it would be capable of deflecting, as well as the way the screen would destruct in the event of a heavy impact.

Despite the positive reaction from Dixon, Indycar have acknowledged the need for further testing to take place, particularly around street circuits, where corner apex’s require drivers to look through different parts of the screen. Indycar expects the testing process to continue at the upcoming street venues at either St Petersberg or Long Beach and while possible, does not expect the device to be raced in the 2018 season.

In the views of the writer, the most crucial difference in the Indycar process to that in Formula 1 is the acknowledgement by Indycar that they would be prepared to not implement a device at the conclusion of their investigations. This is in contrast to the FIA, who sought to implement a device in Formula 1 regardless of its failings, on the provision that it was shown to make the cars safer. It is this attitude that has left the sport with a device that while capable of preventing a wheel and tyre, for which a device already exists, while remaining inept at preventing injury from smaller items more commonly seen departing cars, particularly under new aerodynamic regulations.

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