MARCH 11, 2016
Halo decision must be made soon says FIA
Time is running short for F1 to introduce better cockpit protection for 2017.
The FIA is pushing to put the controversial 'halo' on the cars next year, with Ferrari signalling that intention by running a mock-up for Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel to try during last week's Barcelona test.
FIA president Jean Todt confirms there is a "very real possibility" a solution will be in place for 2017.
"We are pushing very hard to integrate it as early as possible," confirmed FIA safety chief Laurent Mekies.
"I'm sure it (the testing) 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," he told the FIA's in-house magazine Auto.
"But we're all trying to make that cut."
Basic regulations for the following year should be agreed before March 1, but Mekies said that does not mean time has run out for 'halo' ahead of 2017.
"The real deadline is the teams' timing to modify their cars accordingly and our capability to assess all the connected issues," he said.
"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."
Ferrari's testing of 'halo' last week, however, triggered a strong reaction in the paddock, with Lewis Hamilton slamming it and even supporters Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel admitting it is "extreme" and "ugly".
However, there are alternatives. Red Bull is championing a bullet-proof transparent shield, and the FIA recently tested two alternatives to 'halo' on an airfield in England.
One of them is called 'AFP', or additional frontal protection, featuring a much less intrusive set of monocoque-mounted 'ramps' or fins designed to flick debris away from the driver.
"With this relatively inconspicuous structure we were attempting to impart enough vertical velocity to direct the wheel assembly over the driver's helmet," said FIA technical consultant Andy Mellor.
"With this approach we aim to achieve compatibility with the rim with a design that minimises the reaction loads on the chassis, has the potential to be extremely lightweight and has a low visual impact," he added.