Kimi Raikkonen claims Halo cockpit protection visibility "ok" in first F1 test
Ferrari has become the first team to try the “Halo” cockpit protection system on a Formula 1 car, as Kimi Raikkoenen emerged from the pits with...
Ferrari has become the first team to try the “Halo” cockpit protection system on a Formula 1 car, as Kimi Raikkoenen emerged from the pits with the device fitted to his car at start of the third day of the second pre-season test.
The FIA has developed the Halo system in conjunction with Mercedes and recently evaluated a range of cockpit safety measures in a test at an airfield in the South East of England.
Those experiments involved firing an F1-spec wheel from a cannon to test the strength and viability of three devices, which included the Halo concept.
Speaking to AUTO magazine, the official journal of the governing body, FIA safety director Laurent Mekies explained that the research into cockpit protection had been pushed forward to try and implement a system for the 2017 season.
He said: “We have tried to accelerate this project in the last 12 months with an aim to have something that we can practically apply on the F1 cars for 2017.
“This latest test was set up with that in mind - trying to come out from there with something that we could actually say, ‘that’s going to be a significant step forward.’”
The Halo device was evaluated alongside a Centre-Line Roll Hoop of three metal bars that extend from the air box to the front of the cockpit, and an Additional Frontal Protection structure (AFP) that would be placed towards the front of the chassis to lift a tyre or other debris over a driver’s helmet.
The Global Institute for Motor Sport Safety, the research partner of the FIA Institute, conducted the tests and Andy Mellor, the project’s lead researcher, explained that the Halo protection device had performed well in the test.
He said: “It’s very impressive that although the structure is positioned close to the driver’s helmet to provide protection from all angles, it is still able to prevent the wheel from contacting the helmet.
“In the very short distance available, a huge amount of energy is absorbed and the wheel is successfully redirected.”
Raikkonen’s single-lap run with the Halo structure, which occurred as the Finn performed his initial installation running at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this morning, was the first time the device had been run on an actually F1 car.
Mekies described how the co-operation between the FIA and the teams had helped to push the cockpit protection research forward and that the tests had been a success.
He said: “The good news is that the three structures we tested performed as expected or even better than expected.
“On top of that we have received great guidance from Charlie [Whiting] from the beginning of the project, and a lot of support from the teams who provided us with all their calculations and design power, which has made this step forward possible.”
After the device, which was Ferrari's own temporary structure and not did not have a hinge that would allow for simpler extrication, had been removed from Raikkonen's car, the 2007 world champion went on to record the fastest time of the morning session, a 1m22.785s, which he set on the ultrasoft tyre. The Finn also reported that visibility during his one lap using the Halo device was "ok."
Cockpit protection "a reality" for 2017
The FIA recently announced that it was working to make cockpit protection “a reality” for 2017, but there has still been no official word to establish if this will occur for next season.
But Mekies explained that while the FIA’s test would generate further research into the concept, the governing body was striving to implement cockpit protection has soon as possible.
He said: “We are pushing very hard to integrate it as early as possible. I’m sure it will trigger a few connected research topics, to assess visibility, extrication and some of the other aspects, so I’m expecting some validation testing to be done in the course of the next six months. But we’re all trying to make that cut.”
“The real deadline is the teams’ timing to modify their cars accordingly and our capability to assess all the connected issues.
“Design is done very much in advance in F1, therefore if we want to make 2017 it needs to be decided in the next few months. Nobody wants to rush these things but we are all trying to go as fast as possible.”
Although the new rules normally need to be set March 1 if they are to be adopted for the following season, this year the FIA has granted an extension to April 30 so the sport’s stakeholders can finalise plans for the new bodywork regulations that are expected to be brought in for 2017.What do you make of the Halo device? Will it influence your feelings towards F1 or should driver protection be prioritised? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more debate.
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