Never before had so many drivers tested the Halo device, at once, as during the free practices of the Mexican GP. No less then five of them had the honour. Well, perhaps honour is a bit much, since they all had comments of a certain negativity. Local hero Sergio Perez was joined by both Felipe’s, Massa and Nasr, Pascal Werhlein and Kevin Magnussen. Magnussen said he hadn’t felt any safer with the device above his head. Werhlein complained about the distracting nature of it. And Nasr was of opinion that it took away a lot of the view in the distance. –Since he drives a Sauber I can related to that one. All they have to do is look in the distance, for blue flags. Am I right, Sebastian? 😆
Once they ended their practice laps all of them had to fill out a survey by the FIA. That survey consist of the following questions: ‘How is the getting in and out of the car? What was your first impression about the view, when you got in to the car? What was the impression after a longer drive? How good was the view of the pit lights, the start lights and all the various light signals alongside the track? How good can you see the upcoming apex? And last but not least, how do you feel in the car? Safer or is there a certain feel of claustrophobia driving with you?’
Perhaps it was coincidence, but Magnussen, Werhlein and Nasr all ended up off the track, somewhere along these free practices sessions. ‘The view to the next corner isn’t obstructed, but further than that is hard to see.’ Said Nasr. ‘Mainly because of the vertical element right in front of you’.
Werhlein complained over the board radio to his team: ‘The Halo distracts!’ Later on he would state that he went of the track in turn 2, even when he was driving very slow. That he didn’t even know what really happened. He thinks was staring at the device inside of the car. Even grinning, trying to get used to it. And just drove off the track because of that. ‘This first time didn’t feel good, it even felt abnormal. There is this thing in front of you where it shouldn’t. Sometimes you try to watch over the halo but all you see then is the horizontal “ring”. But I geuss you get used to everything and if it’s good for the safety it will come through.’
Technical commissioner Jo Bauer was also there, to measure the times of the drivers getting in and out of the car. -Now here is where it gets tricky, the first comments are personal opinions. But this are cold, hard numbers. No-one can argue with them. First of all, everyone of the drivers needs to use a chair to get in the car. Even the tallest of them. That’s a strange sight, be it in the garage or, perhaps later, on the start grid. Secondly there is a big increase of the time measured to get out of the car. The average of all the Halo tests during this year is 8.5 seconds. That’s one and a half times the amount of what the FIA regulations allow.
However, Massa could get out of the car in 6.2 seconds, probably because he is a small guy. Which enables him to move more in the space he has between the device and the car. Of all the tests this year, the slowest was Max Verstappen with a colossal half minute.- Dear Max fans, keep in mind I’m not bashing him. This is an official FIA time. Max maybe half as young as Massa, he is also nearly twice as big. Ok, thats a bit exaggerated, but you catch my drift.
After Max Verstappen earlier this year, Kevin Magnussen was the one with the biggest criticism. The Danish driver uses some words to his team over the radio which the FIA has to cancel out with a nice beep tone. To the FIA he made his point of view quite clear. The Halo doesn’t give him a feel of safety, it even makes him fear for his safety. ‘It feels like you put on a hood on your head. As low as possible. You can see where you drive, but you can’t see more than that. All things surrounding you aren’t there to be seen. The view wasn’t half as good as what I hoped for. If a track has serious elevation changes this will surely bring troubles with it!’
Special thanks to @Suttonimages for letting me use his quality pictures. Visit www.sutton-images.com/ if you want more!