The introduction of the new cockpit head-protection system ‘halo’ in Formula One racing is one of the most controversial changes to car design over the past few years.
F1 has always seen itself as at the cutting-edge of car racing, yet the latest proposal has created controversy within the sport.
The governing body FIA has confirmed that the system would be introduced for the 2018 season.
Drivers are divided over the value of the change, with many claiming it heralds the end of open cockpit racing. Added to this are concerns that the extreme forces it adds to the structure of the cars may make it more dangerous than safer for the pilots. Vertical loads of 111kN are causing alarm, according to some industry engineers, by placing the equivalent of the weight of double decker bus on top of the car.
This leaves designers having to cope with the structure of the car and adjusting chassis designs to cope with the increased stresses on the structure of the car. Once again this means the eye-watering sums the teams have to spend on design are set to increase and widen the gap on the grid between the richest and the less well-off teams. Many believe this may make the sport even less competitive.
In testing engineers have been surprised at how the changes affect the cars, with top teams believing their competitors with less funding for research will find the challenges presented by the changes difficult to cope with.
With winter testing beginning, everyone wants to see all teams at the venues; however, the worry is that some may still be coping with the innovation while trying to get their cars competitive. Aerodynamics around the halo are expected to be where teams can sneak an advantage, with engineers looking at a variety of solutions in an attempt to gain a slim advantage.
Fans will be looking forward to seeing the designs, with Monaco in May one of the best chances to see the cars on a street circuit. The Ermanno Palace is a key location to watch the race through providers such as https://edgeglobalevents.com/.
The leading drivers Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton are divided on the innovation. The former believes it represents progress, whilst Hamilton says last year was the last time cars would look good.