Formula One drivers are still at a contentious split regarding the newly-introduced “Shield” safety concept put forward by the FIA.
Try as they might, the FIA just can’t seem to thread the needle that is getting Formula One drivers to accept additional safety countermeasures on their cars. First the ill-fated “Halo” concept bit the dust, and now the arguably more conservative “Shield” concept looks to be set to face an equal amount of contention from the folks that will have to spend the most time dealing with its potential ramifications.
The “Shield” certainly sports a more conservative approach to head protection for F1 drivers, whereas the “Halo” saw a highly obtrusive bar placed right in front of the driver’s field of vision. Despite this, it appears that driver feedback and impressions are scattered all across the board, with no clear group consensus having emerged yet.
Renault’s Jolyon Palmer recently commented on the state of driver impressions across the various garages, saying that while some might believe that there is a group consensus regarding the product, there isn’t:
“There’s no group opinion of the drivers. Some people seem to think there is, but there’s not. It’s very split, some people want nothing, some people think the Shield is a good idea, some people still want the Halo. There’s no real consensus from the drivers, even if some people seem to think there is.” – Jolyon Palmer
Palmer, who was a vocal opponent of the “Halo” concept, says that his opinion on additional head protection in Formula One hasn’t changed one bit:
“My views haven’t changed, I think F1 is safe enough as it is. Honestly, I think drivers wouldn’t be racing if they were worried for their own safety – everyone’s still racing.
Fernando [Alonso]’s going to race in the Indy 500, which is way more dangerous than this – so it shows where he’s at with it… I think it’s unnecessary.” – Jolyon Palmer
Palmer’s sentiment is one that is certainly echoed across other drivers. It only begs the question just how much dissent will the FIA have to endure before they concede that perhaps there are other areas in which Formula One could be made safer, and obtrusive head protection is not one of them.