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Shield vs halo: FIA pushed to make quick decision on F1 head protection

The FIA is under pressure from teams to make a swift decision on whether the 'shield' device should be fully pursued for the 2018 Formula 1 season.

Shield vs halo: FIA pushed to make quick decision on F1 head protection

The FIA is under pressure from teams to make a swift decision on whether the 'shield' device should be fully pursued for the 2018 Formula 1 season.

Since the Chinese Grand Prix in April, the shield has been touted as the FIA's new solution to protect drivers' heads from flying debris. The 'halo' device is thought to have been shelved since its 2016 trials, and the introduction of a new head protection device was postponed from 2017 to 2018.

The shield is a polycarbonate screen produced by Italian manufacturer Isoclima, which makes bulletproof and security glass screens as well as other clear screens for use in buildings, cars and trains. It also makes the canopies used in LMP1 and LMP2 cars which compete in endurance racing.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel trialled the shield at the British GP but he was unconvinced, having stopped the test 5.8 kilometres in having complained of poor visibility and dizziness.

"I don't think I need to talk about the pros, we obviously know what it is for,"  he said after the first test of the new screen at Silverstone.

"Cons, obviously I tried it this morning - I got a bit dizzy.

"Forward vision is not very good, yeah, I think because of the curvature, you get you get quite a bit of distortion, plus you get quite a bit of downwash down the straights pushing the helmet forwards.

"So, we had a run planned with it, but I didn't like it so we took it off."

When asked whether the shield hampers efforts to quickly exit the car, Vettel replied: "For sure it doesnt help.

"Getting in doesn't matter but getting out is more about getting used to it - so that's the main thing."

While Vettel was far from optimistic about the early shield's execution, further tests at Monza and Singapore are planned for later this year for more teams as the FIA still maintains protection is to be used from 2018.

Auto Motor und Sport reports that Isoclima have two shields ready for use: the first, which Vettel tested, is for daytime use; the second is for nighttime and foggy conditions and wasn't readied in time for Silverstone.

The daytime version weighs around four kilograms, with the base (which attaches to the front of the car) weighing three further kilos, meaning that the shield weighs a little more than the halo did. However, the nighttime version, designed to reduce glare and reflections with a special coating, weighs six kilos.

With another Strategy Group meeting taking place today, some team bosses are thought to be pushing the FIA into a quick decision as the shield affects the aerodynamic and handling characteristics of their current cars.

"We should have known two years ago what we were building on our cars," said Red Bull Team Principal to AMuS.

"The halo required certain conditions from the chassis. Both solutions strongly affect aerodynamics, including the shield in its new form.

"If we have difficulties as Red Bull, how will other teams fare?"

Whether testing on the shield is successful or not, the FIA has not ruled out use of the halo next year with Race Director Charlie Whiting having said: "[If not the shield], then the halo will come in. There will be some sort of cockpit protection in 2018."

Force India's Technical Director agreed with Horner's view on the pressing dilemma facing the FIA and the F1 teams. He said, "We cannot wait anymore."

"The Halo requires massive structural changes to the chassis and aerodynamics.

"The cockpit must be stiffened at the three anchor points of the halo.

"Due to the long lead-time, at the end of the month the chassis has to be handed over to the factory," said Green.

The Monza test will give teams a clearer view of what daytime running is like, but any glaring nighttime issues with the shield will only be revealed at the Singapore test in September.

As a result of such a late testing schedule for the shield this season, the FIA may well conduct post-season tests to make sure that the device poses no problems in the rain and other adverse conditions.

Will we see a shield or a halo next year? Have your say in the comment section below.
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