F1 drivers suggest halo improvements to assist identification



pic: F1 Twitter

Formula One drivers have called for improvements to the halo cockpit protection system in order to help fans recognise who is behind the wheel of the car out on track.

The device was implemented by the FIA ahead of the 2018 season to advance safety and help prevent objects from hitting drivers directly on the helmet.

However, from the outside, the design obstructs the view of the helmets and causes difficulty in identifying who is piloting the car, defeating the purpose of having any unique or distinguishable patterns on helmets.

Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo voiced echoing opinions on the topic, with the latter suggesting a colour scheme should be painted onto the halo to help distinguish between team mates.

“I don’t have a suggestion for it but I have noticed that it’s almost pointless of us painting the helmets nowadays so I’m probably going to get rid of my paint on mine,” said four-time world champion Hamilton.

“Saves weight but yeah, I don’t really have a suggestion for it. I’m sure they’ll come up with something.”

“Yeah, yeah, definitely,” said Vettel of the importance as a fan in being able to identify a driver behind the wheel.

“Obviously we can’t negotiate the position of the halo, we can’t put it at the back of the car.

I don’t know, maybe it should be up to us to design the halo, I don’t know. That could be an idea, just to add an element to what makes it different from the rest.”

“The only thing I could think of was putting something on the halo to distinguish teammates,” added Ricciardo.

“Is it the camera or the rollhoop or whatever that sometimes one driver has yellow so you can kind of tell a little bit there so maybe do something between teammates with the halos just to give fans a little bit of an idea who’s behind the wheel because yeah, you don’t really see the helmet now?

“We are pretty hidden. Yeah, that’s all I can think of for now short term.”

FIA race director Charlie Whiting downplayed the impact the halo will have on the fans being able to identify drivers in the cars, and believes there are other methods of differing teams mates, in the form of racing numbers.

“I’ve always personally felt it’s much easier to try and look at the colour of the on-board cameras,” said Whiting during a pre-Australian Grand Prix briefing.

“Max (Verstappen) and Daniel (Ricciardo), for example, don’t look dissimilar [with crash helmets on].

“Last year it was much easier with those two cars because the numbers were very prominent, which they weren’t until last year. That actually worked quite well.

“We’ve made sure that all the numbers on the cars are in exactly the same places and the cameras will be back for the first car and all yellow for the second car.

“I’m fairly convinced that fans won’t need to resort to try and identify drivers helmet colours to know who’s in the car.”

The halo will be used on Friday in first practice for the Australian Grand Prix.

Practice 1 gets underway at 1200 AEDT.