Formula One’s latest attempt at protecting the cockpit seemed promising. It looked good, it’s a step in the right direction and it wasn’t nearly as dumb-looking to the car as the halo was. But Sebastian Vettel practiced with it on Friday, and it made him so dizzy he took it off before the session ended.
Vettel was the first to test the new device, called the “shield” by the FIA and a “windshield” by most of the rest of us because that’s what it is, and his first reviews weren’t great. He didn’t complain about the positioning of it or the process of getting in and out of the car with less room, but did say that he had to pull in from practice earlier than planned to take it off. From Racer:
“I don’t think I need to talk about the pros,” Vettel said when asked for his thoughts on it. “Obviously we know what it is for. But I tried it this morning [and] I got a little bit dizzy!
“Forward vision is not very good. I think it’s because of the curvature – it’s got quite a bit of distortion, plus you get quite a bit of downwash down the straight pushing the helmet forward, so... We had a run planned with it but I didn’t like it, so we took it off.”
The shield’s first test came almost immediately after it was announced, since F1 and the FIA are already more than a year behind schedule on giving drivers the head protection most of them asked for. The earlier attempt at a “halo” device for cockpit protection didn’t go well thanks to visibility issues, so the shield is already heading in the wrong direction.
Meanwhile, the Red Bull F1 team is pretty mad that F1 didn’t give them the slightest hat tip for coming up with the windshield idea in the first place. (It’s not like there are any other cars or race cars in the world with windshields, and this is definitely, totally a new and exciting concept.)
But, after Vettel’s review, maybe Red Bull doesn’t want the credit anymore.