Between safety and style, it’s pretty obvious which takes a higher slot on the importance list—unless, of course, you’re three-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton. In that case, forget the safety aspect of it all. It’s better that your 200-plus mph racing vehicle looks good, while going 200-plus mph.
Hamilton voiced that sentiment toward a newly proposed safety feature for F1, a “halo” device designed for cockpit protection. The introduction of the device comes after the recent deaths of several open-wheel racers, including Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi. F1 drivers called for closed cockpits by 2017 just last month, and the halo concept made its public debut with Scuderia Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen at an F1 test session in Barcelona, Spain.
The halo device is a wishbone-shaped protective bar that partially obscures driver vision, and The Independent quotes Raikkonen as saying that his first impression of visibility with the halo is positive. Hamilton let us all know how his view looked from outside of the car, though, describing the halo as the “worst looking mod” in F1 history on Instagram:
The post is no longer on his Instagram page, but the BBC reports that Hamilton wants F1 drivers to be able to choose whether or not to use the halo if the series does implement it. Hamilton added that he understands the issue of safety, but the halo “is not the one” to fix the problem. From the BBC:
Hamilton said F1 cars had lost “the cool look they used to have in the 1980s and 1990s”, adding: “It is not F1 for me.”
Not all drivers think the looks of the halo concept warrant a toss of the idea, as Vettel said it can be as “ugly as possible” so long as the device can save lives. Vettel told the BBC that drivers like Wilson and Henry Surtees—a Formula Two racer who died in 2009—would still be around had there been a halo system.
There is still no official rule on the halo system, which would likely roll out in 2017 if implemented.
The above image has been edited. Lewis Hamilton did not stand in front of an F1 car while it made laps on the track. That we know of.
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