19 February 2016
Universal support for ‘halo canopy’ protection – Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo says no driver to his knowledge has spoken out against proposals to introduce a 'halo canopy' for added cockpit protection.
Daniel Ricciardo says no driver to his knowledge has spoken out against proposals to introduce a 'halo canopy' for added cockpit protection, saying such a move would not 'take anything away in terms of driver courage'.
The topic of closed or protected cockpits has been on the agenda for some years, but has gained more prominence in recent years following the deaths of Jules Bianchi and Justin Wilson.
Though it was considered Bianchi, who died nine months after striking a recovery vehicle during the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, would not have been saved by cockpit protection, it is felt Wilson's death - when he was struck by errant debris during an IndyCar race at Pocono - could have been avoided.
Since then, the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) has led the call for the FIA to commit to changes as early as 2017, with the 'halo' concept increasingly referenced as the preferred choice.
Indeed, though opinions amongst fans have been mixed, Ricciardo says there is largely unanimous support for the proposed measures amongst the GPDA members.
“I can't think of anyone against it, I said 'most' because I assume everyone is,” he said. “I honestly don't think anyone is against it, no one in the meeting said 'that's going to be crap'. Sure, some people probably didn't have an opinion, but most people spoke up about it and said it's what we want.
“There's been quite a lot of dialogue in the GPDA with a lot of emails going back and forth in the last month or so. I think most of us are for it, however it's styled or designed, but it's just to have that extra little bit [of protection]. Our head is the only really vulnerable thing at the moment and last year there was two pretty tragic ones, so if we can avoid it at the cost of nothing then it's a good thing.
Reflecting on those that suggest it will diminish the risk involved in F1 and be visually unappealing, Ricciardo maintains it is a small price to pay if it prevents injury.
“It's not taking away anything from the driver in terms of courage or anything like that, it's a simple little benefit that we can all gain from and no one wants to see another fatality, so if we can minimise risk then why not?
“With Jules and then Justin it just seems like a bit of tradition for what in the end? I think we'll do it and F1 has seen a lot of changes over the years. In 2009 the cars looked pretty ugly at first, but everyone got used to it and now they look normal. If this is just a little halo, with a race or two people will think it looks normal.”
In terms of practicalities, Ricciardo says he doesn't expect to experience issues with vision, though he believes it will take several attempts to reach a final product.
“Some static visibility is a bit impaired with some designs, but when you are moving – like if they've done simulations – because you are moving on the track you look straight ahead but you also look a lot to the tyres and into the corners.
“You are looking ahead, so even if something is right there in front of you, you are looking past it. What may look like a problem statically is not a problem when you are moving. These are just early designs, so we'll improve these things but we could probably race with it as it is.”
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