F1 drivers still split on ‘halo’ introduction


Several of the biggest drivers in the sport have weighed in on the decision to introduce the cockpit head-protection system next season.

Speaking ahead of this week's Hungarian GP, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel said the "vast majority" of the drivers supported the introduction of the controversial halo device.

Vettel, who also serves as the director of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), said it would be "ignorant and stupid" not to use it.

"Overall, you need to understand it is a decision that helps us in the car in case something goes very wrong," said the German.

"I can understand if people say it doesn't belong on an F1 car, but times are changing."

Fellow world champions Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton also voiced their support.

Alonso said the device could have helped save many lives over the past 15 years.

"If we could go back in time and save some of our colleagues' lives, we would be all happy. That is the first and only thing we should talk about," said the Spaniard.

"The aesthetics, I don't care too much. F1 has changed so much even from my first year in 2001. The cars are so different – the height of the front nose, the height of the cockpit area. Forty to 50 years ago they did not have seat belts.

"For me there is no question – I'm happy to implement any extra head protections. If the FIA studies and develops the halo, if this is the most effective way to protect the head of the drivers, it is more than welcome."

Hamilton admitted the halo did not look good, but made it clear he was not arguing against it.

"We are moving towards a closed cockpit. That would look better. There are some great concepts online with closed cockpits," he said.

"When you think about the things that have happened with drivers being hit on the head, it is kind of crazy the head is almost the most precious part of the body and it is exposed."

Not all drivers were as supportive, however. Some questioned it's necessity, like Renault's Nico Hulkenberg.

"There is that element of aesthetics, the looks," he said.

"It will protect against a freak accident – one out of a million that happens. The (wheel) tethers that keep the tyres (attached to the car) get better every year, giving even less chance of a tyre flying around.

"I'm not sure this additional protection is necessary because the other areas keep improving and it compromises the looks a lot."

Red Bull's Max Verstappen said: "I don't really understand why we need it."

Others to voice their opposition include Jolyon Palmer and Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.

The Grand Prix Drivers' Association has long backed the introduction of the halo. In a letter written by the organisation a year ago and sent to the FIA, it states that all drivers and reserve drivers bar two were present at a vote where they "anonymously agreed in favour of additional head protection/halo".