The FIA Needs to Drop Their Crusade for Formula One Head Protection

New developments over the FIA’s “Shield” and “Halo” head protection seem to suggest that the FIA will deploy the “Halo” regardless of team opinion.

There is one method of behavior that will unfailingly manage to provoke the ire of those around you–should one desire to use it. The method is seldom used intentionally, but in the FIA’s case, one must wonder if they’ve got a secret backroom full of cackling gremlins who have sworn to sow as much mayhem as possible.

Ever since Felipe Massa was struck in the head by a piece of debris at the Hungarian Grand Prix practice session several years back, the FIA has launched a crusade in the name of safety to introduce some sort of new device that would prevent such accidents from ever happening again. The sort of accident that has been widely regarded as a fluke and one that has a highly improbable chance of occurring again. Despite this, the regulating body of Formula 1 has seized the opportunity to participate in what will likely go down in the annals of the sport’s history as one of the most circle-jerk attempts to introduce an arbitrary “safety measure”.

The Halo received on-track testing during the 2016 season and was promptly blasted by the majority of the drivers that were subjected to going around the track at over 200 kp/h while trying to not stare at the grotesque curved t-bar that was positioned merely inches away from their face. The FIA seemed to have heard their complaints, and moved forward to introduce the “Shield” – a new head protection device that resembled a sleek windshield that would be added to the car.

Although the Shield looked like it was on the right track–as much as it could be–the first field test was blasted by Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, who complained of both downwash and dizziness due to visual distortion that came through the curved glass. Vettel wasted no time in requesting for it to be taken off, and it seemed that the FIA had finally dealt a hand that would force it to go back to the drawing board or accept that their efforts had been in vain.

Alas, no. The FIA’s apparent hard-on for this perceived risk to the drivers has reportedly led them to shelf development of the “Shield” and revert back to pushing for implementation of the “Halo” in 2018. The FIA is claiming that the “Halo” has been “further enhanced” and will be implemented on safety grounds despite opposition of the nine out of ten teams that were consulted over it.

It would appear that the FIA has abandoned any precedent of consulting those that would be affected most by it and instead opted to force the hand of the teams in the name of “safety” – still refusing to admit that the potential problems a forced implementation could cause even more safety issues than the one’s they believe they will prevent. Sadly, this isn’t the first time that the FIA has appeared to be operating with its head in the clouds – but it does the mark of a potential falling out between the teams that drive the sport and the entity that is only meant to oversee it.

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