At the Australian Grand Prix, a fresh Era of Protecting Drivers

“When we started off the program in 2011, we looked at a very large variety of solutions to ensure nothing was discounted,” Laurent Mekies, safety director at the F.I.A., the sport’s governing body, explained in an interview. Mekies, who will be to join Ferrari in September in a technical role, added, “the item was an open-minded approach, to look at everything, all possible concepts.

“So we looked at full canopies — a fighter-jet style of the canopy; we looked at a roll bar in front of the drivers, along using a partial roll bar just in front of the monocoque.

“Some of these concepts made the item to the track. For instance, with the GP2 cars, we used a roll bar in front of the drivers, in order to not only protect them although also assess visibility.”

the item was determined in which a driver needed to be protected through an object as large as a complete wheel assembly, weighing 44 pounds along with traveling at 140 miles an hour.

“This kind of was the driving factor of all the concepts,” Mekies said. “All our testing was based around in which.

“As we progressed the work, what we realized will be in which in asking for a structure to be as strong as what we were looking for, the item had massive benefits in numerous some other areas along with potential accidents, some other than a simple wheel strike,” such as car-to-car contact or a car hitting a tire or concrete wall.

“Having chosen the load, the testing conditions involved a full-scale dynamic test where we projected a wheel assembly at the structure, along with observing the behavior, or not, of in which structure, in two respects: Does the item fail? along with will be the item able to deflect a wheel away through the driver’s head?”

Throughout development, along with before creating a final decision on which device to use, Mekies along with the F.I.A. were aware of the impact the structure would likely have on the sport.

After its initial introduction at a preseason test in 2016, the halo was almost universally derided, in particular for its aesthetics.

So Red Bull developed its own prototype, the aeroscreen, which struggled in tests conducted by the F.I.A. before the team abandoned the idea.

Photo

The halo device on your vehicle of Max Verstappen, the Red Bull driver, during testing in Barcelona, Spain, This kind of month.

Credit
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The F.I.A. had planned to introduce the halo for the start of the 2017 season, although decided to look at some other options, forcing a delay.

At last year’s British Grand Prix, along with after relatively successful tests, a system known as the shield was fitted to the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel during a practice session. During in which short test, the item was discovered in which the device offered less protection than the halo.

So the halo was adopted, although criticism remains.

Toto Wolff, the head of the Mercedes team, recently said he was “not impressed with the whole thing.”

“If you give me a chain saw, I would likely take the item off,” he said. “We need to look after the driver’s safety, although what we have implemented will be aesthetically not appealing.

“We need to come up using a solution in which simply looks better. the item’s a massive weight on top of your vehicle, along with you screw up the center of gravity massively. As impressive as the statistic will be in which you could put a bus on top of the item, This kind of will be a Formula One car.”

Mekies said creating a decision “was not an easy process.”

“The reason why will be because you have many different sensitivities when the item comes to how safe the sport needs to be; will be the danger part of the thrill of watching the item?” he said. “Then there were the aesthetic considerations of bolting a fresh structure on an open cockpit.

“through an aesthetic point of view, the item was something so fresh — along with we didn’t target aesthetics then, we targeted function along with maximum safety — the initial reaction was very mixed.

“although once we showed the item to people — along with perhaps we should have done more, along with much earlier — the ways in which the item would likely be beneficial in an accident scenario, then we started off to receive more support.”

although the device has created difficulties for the teams.

Andrew Green, the technical director of Force India, claims the item has cost his team “inside the hundreds of thousands, if not the millions” of dollars to put on your vehicle because the item has forced teams to make some other improvements to their cars. The system itself costs just $16,000.

The team will be still working on the aerodynamics of the halo, which has “a significant downstream effect, especially around the wing area,” Green said.

Another effect has been on weight. While the F.I.A. increased the overall minimum weight of This kind of year’s cars by 13.2 pounds to 1,618 pounds, the weight of the halo, along with the mountings to attach the item to your vehicle, totals 26.5 pounds.

“The weight limit did go up, although by not nearly as much as the installation weight of the halo, which put additional stress on all the some other parts of your vehicle.

“The some other area we had to bear in mind will be in which we have to hit a weight distribution target, so we faced a big challenge, with the architecture of your vehicle changing right up to the last minute.”

Whatever the discontent among teams, the halo will be currently a fixture in Formula One. Although the halo will be the first head protection device approved by the F.I.A., the item will be unlikely to be the last.

“There will be no direction we will not pursue,” Mekies said. “the item could be a canopy, or maybe automatic deployment of the safety structure, if you want to look further.

“In terms of research along with development, in which will be very much our job, to look at different styles of things. Whatever we do, the item has to be done for additional safety, along with in which will be the overriding reason why we currently contain the halo.”

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