Formula One Risks Turning into a (Bigger) Farce, New Safety System Tested

Kimi Raikkonen testing the Halo safety system 1 photo
Photo: Screenshot from YouTube
Do you know what could make Formula One great once again? Have you got any idea? Of course not. You're probably babbling on about larger engines, more power, fewer rules, and so on, but you're wrong. The answer is this "halo" safety system that Kimi Raikkonen is testing out in Barcelona.
Yup, that's a metal bar in the shape of a "Y" that's there to protect the driver from flying debris, loose tires or even other cars, should they end up on top of each other. It's an idea the Formula One has been toying with for some time, and the decision to try it out was accelerated by Jules Bianchi's tragic accident, but there are already plenty who doubt it is the right solution.

For one thing, let's just exclude the possibility of ever having closed cockpit Formula One cars. Not only would they turn into real ovens during the hotter races (drivers already lose a few kilos per race due to dehydration), but they would also make it harder to extract the driver in case of an accident, which sometimes can make the difference between life and death.

So if there has to be a safety system, it must maintain an open cockpit. Several shapes have been proposed, but this one seems to offer the best compromise for protection and visibility. However, having a pretty large bar right in front of your eyes while you're trying to win races could prove problematic. And bear in mind that visibility in an F1 car isn't exactly great to begin with, so this would only add to the misery.

If you watch the clip you can see Kimi point towards the thing and shake his head. He later said it was OK, but you'd have to think that was just Kimi being surprisingly cautious about his statements. After a lifetime of racing with an open cabin, getting something so brilliantly described as a "pair of thongs" strapped in front of you is far from ideal. It's like somebody told you to drive with one eye closed from now on.

We understand the need for safety and seeing fatal accidents like the one involving Bianchi is always tragic, but - and it's not easy saying this - motor racing has always been a dangerous sport. You know the risks when you sign up for it. It may sound cruel and cynical, but this risk is part of the show. Nobody wants to see the drivers get hurt, but it was that looming danger that made Formula One the most entertaining driving championship. We're not saying they should add motor oil pools on the track and lay down spike strips to make things more interesting, we're just saying "FIA, please try not to kill what's left of this sport."

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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