Two months ago, the FIA and Grand Prix Driver’s Association stated that the organizations were very close to finalizing the adoption of a HALO-style safety system for open-wheel racecars, i.e. Formula 1. The adoption and decision to implement these new safety systems comes after two high-profile tragedies in the last two years, the deaths of Jules Bianchi and Justin Wilson. During the first round of testing ahead of this year’s Formula 1 season, Ferrari brought out an initial prototype of this Halo system.
The test was originally scheduled to have Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel testing the Halo equipped car, but Ferrari instead chose veteran driver Kimi Raikkonen, who according to Motorsport, “would offer a far more impartial view on its impact on the drivers.” The often mono-syllabic Finn completed only a single lap with the safety system on so as to allow Ferrari to gauge this design’s visibility or lack thereof, due to one of the struts being directly in the driver’s line of sight.
After the test, Raikkonen spoke with Autosport about the Halo structure: “It’s slightly different view. We’re a bit limited in the front, but I don’t think it’s the final version. There was surprisingly little difference [in terms of visibility].” Ferrari’s version of the halo is still in its development process and this is only the first step in what will surely be a long process of accreditation. At the moment, the Halo enclosure is something Ferrari’s engineers have to take on and off the new Formula 1 car, but the design will likely be something integrated into the car’s chassis when a final iteration is approved.
Halo designs are still in their infancy, and the Ferrari designed structure tested this week has to be attached to the car when it is stationary and the driver already in the cockpit. The design needs to evolve before the FIA or GPDA will sign off on the safety technology. Testing will likely continue throughout this season, as the FIA wants the new safety feature adopted for the 2017 Formula 1 season.