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Insight: Seeing over the top of the halo to the F1 of the future

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Insight: Seeing over the top of the halo to the F1 of the future
Mar 28, 2018, 6:23 AM

Well we got through the first weekend of F1 with the halo.

Well we got through the first weekend of F1 with the halo. There was the inevitable push back on it from fans, but once the racing started the talking points changed.

We forgot all about it once 20 cars started racing - until we saw the onboard camera shots..

Judging from the comments to the JA on F1 site over the past five days, there has been much unhappiness about the position of the halo in partially blocking the view of the onboard cameras.

This is a classic tale of F1 unintended consequences.

Building a halo and assessing where an onboard camera mount should be on an F1 car are both long lead time items.

The teams work together each year with Formula 1 to identify the position of the TV camera when they are still in the chassis design phase and that has to be locked off at a certain point in June of the year before the car is launched.

Last year the final decision to commit to the halo came after that - on July 19.

So there was no opportunity to optimise the camera position, which would mean dropping the camera down a few centimetres.

You can say this is avoidable, but it was one of the unintended consequences of the timing of the halo confirmation.

Another unintended consequence they then discovered was that the old screens for drivers in the cockpits (above) will no longer fit.

So teams had to build a two part screen which now completely obscures the driver from the TV cameras and photographers in the pit lane! Far from bringing the fans at home watching on TV closer to the sport, it hides the drivers away (below)!

Everyone can see in many areas of F1 what one might call a 'suboptimal product'. There is so much refinement and excellent work that goes on at all levels of the sport and fans truly have no idea of the level of detail and process that goes into even basic things in the sport - until they are fortunate to see it up close on an F1 paddock tour for example.

Liberty and the FIA have a very strong working relationship, but it's clear that there are areas that need attention for Liberty to be able to maximise what it can do with the series - the halo is one aspect, the grid penalty to Daniel Ricciardo in his home race was another.

So next week in Bahrain a vision for what F1 will be after 2020 will start to emerge when Liberty reveal their plans to teams. First item on the list will be a confirmation of what the engine regulations will be.

Last time this was mooted in Autumn, Ferrari and Mercedes hit the ceiling, as they felt that some of the essential DNA of the sport, as Ferrari chairman Marchionne put it, was being taken out with the simplification of the technology in the rules. In particular the removal of the MGU-H which regenerates heat energy from the turbo.

The team at Formula 1, under Ross Brawn has refined its proposals and has been under pressure to put them on the table so we can get on with the inevitable fight. The stakes are high as Marchionne has said that his team will walk if the technology is downgraded to the point where you can no longer tell a Mercedes from a Ferrari.

Any move you make in this world has direct consequences and then, as we have seen, unintended consequences. But someone has to throw the pebble into the water and makes some ripples, otherwise the sport goes nowhere.

It will certainly make for a spicy weekend in the desert.

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Series Formula 1
Tags innovation