Formula One cars will look radically different next season after the sport’s governing body confirmed that the controversial cockpit safety device known as the halo is to become mandatory in 2018.
Following a meeting of the sport’s major players at a Strategy Group meeting in Geneva on Wednesday, the FIA revealed it has given the go-ahead with its plans to introduce the concept next year.
Britain’s triple world champion Lewis Hamilton described the halo, first trialled in winter testing last year and designed to block flying debris, as the “worst-looking modification” in the sport’s history.
Hamilton changed his mind on the halo following a subsequent safety presentation, but the aesthetics of the device with its three prongs which runs at approximately head height around the cockpit, has courted criticism.
The sporting federation however, are keen to push ahead with the improvement of head-driver protection in the wake of a number of incidents in recent years. The halo was tested by all of the sport’s 10 teams at different stages during last season.
“Following the unanimous agreement of the Strategy Group, in July 2016 to introduce additional frontal protection for Formula One and the repeated support from the drivers, the FIA confirms the introduction of the Halo for 2018,” a statement from the governing body read. “With the support of the teams, certain features of its design will be further enhanced.
“Having developed and evaluated a large number of devices over the past five years, it had become clear that the Halo presents the best overall safety performance.”
Championship leader Sebastian Vettel ran with the so-called ‘shield’ – an alternative device to the halo – fixed to his Ferrari during practice at last week’s British Grand Prix. However, the 30-year-old had to cut short the trial at Silverstone after complaining of dizziness.
Formula One’s bid to improve cockpit safety comes after British IndyCar driver Justin Wilson and Henry Surtees, competing in Formula Two, were killed after they were struck on the crash helmet by debris from other accidents.
Felipe Massa also suffered a fractured skull when a suspension part fell off Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn and hit him in the head during qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.