Mercedes backed the FIA into a corner over the issue of cockpit protection in F1. That is the view of Red Bull chief Christian Horner, who is no advocate of the governing body’s decision to mandate the controversial ‘Halo’ solution for 2018.
A debate is raging about whether ‘Halo’ is good or bad for F1, but Horner thinks it was Mercedes who backed the FIA into a corner.
“Mercedes came out with that concept (Halo) and it put the FIA in a difficult position,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.
“If we have an accident now and we don’t have Halo on the car, but it might have saved a life, then from a legal standpoint it will be difficult to argue why it wasn’t there if it was available,” he said.
“That’s why we (Red Bull) developed the Aeroscreen — to try to solve the problem more aesthetically than this ‘flip flop’.
“The FIA is now in a corner with only the Halo and no other option.
“My concern is that every racing formula down to karts will have to have this thing — where does it stop? I think that at a certain point, as a driver, you have to accept certain risks,” Horner said.
This is the end of Formula One for me – Sir Jackie Stewart
Triple-time F1 world champion Sir Jackie Stewart has proposed that those opposed to F1’s introduction of cockpit “halos” in 2018 could end up on the wrong side of history.
The verdict to introduce Halo for the 2018 season has been hugely debated, with Mercedes chief Niki Lauda claiming the cockpit protection “destroys the DNA” of a sport which has always featured open cockpits. Stewart says the tone of the criticisms of Halo sound familiar.
“My view is: if you can save a life and if some of these people – if they had been to as many funerals as I’ve been to and wept as much as I have and seen close friends die [they wouldn’t object],” Stewart told Autosport. “That’s all finished because we’ve got technology that’s taken away that.
“I read correspondent’s columns that (say) ‘this is the end of Formula One for me, I’m out of it, I can’t stick with this,’ ” Stewart said. “Well that was like people saying ‘Jackie Stewart’s going to kill motorsport’ because of track safety.”
“There’s no point in me saying (previous eras were) ‘just dangerous and then you had to be careful and cautious and when men were men’ — bulls**t,” Stewart said.
The “halo” cockpit head protection system
Formula One governing body, FIA, has been looking at ways to advance cockpit protection and limit the risk of head injuries after French F1 driver Jules Bianchi died in July, 2015, and British IndyCar driver Justin Wilson died a month later.
“The halo will become the strongest part of the car, a secondary wall structure [along with the helmet] and can take about 15 times the car’s weight,” FIA safety director Laurent Mekies said at a news conference on Thursday (local time).
“We know that our resistance against small objects has stepped up.”
The halo design forms a semi-circular barrier around the driver’s helmet in the front half of the cockpit, protecting against debris without completely closing the cockpit.
Initially tested ahead of 2016, drivers were split as to whether they liked it, with some, such as three-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, criticizing it on aesthetic grounds.
The device is expected to weigh about eight kilograms, and Mercedes duo Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, both expressed worry the extra weight would have an impact on driving, mainly on cornering speeds.
Other safety devices were considered before the halo was approved by the FIA last month.