F1'S FOUR HEAD PROTECTION PROPOSALS, EXPLAINED WITH LEGO BRICKS
There's great debate around protecting the heads of the drivers in F1 these days. It is seen as the next step in driver safety, but all the solutions proposed can also be very polarizing, for various reasons. Here's a roundup of what we've seen so far, with the help of models I made out of virtual LEGO bricks!
The current solution involves ever higher side "headrest" protection. Satisfies the more conservative and traditionalist F1 fans who require open-top cockpits. Of course, it provides the less protection to the drivers themselves. The FIA said they clearly wanted to move away from that, notably after the fatal crashes of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi.
Seemingly the only one enjoying advanced testing and approval by the FIA, the HALO system as tested by Ferrari early in the season is a first step towards frontal head prtection in F1. Its very open structure allows quick driver exit, but will also fail deflecting smaller objects, like the one Felipe Massa took in the helmet in 2009. It would however presumably provide enough protection against a wheel or another car. It is also quite ugly, it has to be said!
Tested and designed by the Red Bull team, the Aeroscreen solution appears to be a nice compromise between the full canopy and the easy egress and better visibility of open cockpits. It also looks miles better than the Halo, and, made strong enough, should be able to deflect most objects coming directly towards the driver's head. However, it seems that so far the FIA didn't find Red Bull's solution strong enough, and prefers the Halo to it for now.
Seen as the most futuristic solution, the full canopy sure looks the part. It would provide integral protection, but there are a number of challenges to overcome before what some see as an inevitable implementation. First of all, the driver has to be able to escape the cockpit in a few seconds in any situation, should there be a fire in the car, for example. Other issues involve heat, visibility of and from the driver, added weight, and a loss of what some see as a core identity of Formula 1: open cockpits. I for one think that the incredible engineers in F1 should be able to get past those issues, and also that open-wheels and engineering excellence is what makes F1 what it is.
So here are our four solutions as of today. Each with their strength and weaknesses. It seems however that F1 is decidedly going towards more head protection, and the Halo as been billed as the favorite for the 2018 season.
I had fun building these, and hopefully it helps some have a clearer idea of what the F1 of the future will look like.
What's your favorite solution?