Jolyon Palmer has questioned whether Formula 1 should be the first series to adopt the much discussed halo cockpit canopy protection device, suggesting it would have more relevance for the IndyCar Series.
Following months of tests and evaluations by teams and the FIA, Ferrari gave its version a surprise public airing during pre-season testing, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen getting two laps each to sample visibility.
Though the canopy is an early prototype and is expected to require several modifications before any sort of introduction, the device has split opinion in the F1 paddock, with Nico Rosberg and Vettel pledging their support, while Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg are staunch critics.
For F1 rookie Palmer, he admits the device has its safety benefits, but feels it is the IndyCar Series, with its higher speeds, enclosed spaces and generally closer racing, that should be leading the way with introducing the device, particularly after the death of Justin Wilson at the Pocono Raceway last August, which prompted the acceleration of cockpit protection research.
“Overall it is important in F1,” he said. “I like the open cockpits, the tradition of it. It is nice that the fans can see the drivers working, and the halo covers it up a lot more. It is much more like a sports car race, which is not good.
“When watch football and see the players, we have a helmet on but at least you can see the driver and their identity. So that (the halo) is not good. The safety improvement is obviously there, but in IndyCar it is more relevant because you have really high speeds and no run off, so all the debris has nowhere to go apart from into the crowd or onto the track, so of course there is a higher chance of something happening, which is where the halo will be effective.
“The tracks we have at the moment, the runoff is absolutely huge, so the debris does not really come back into the way of the cars, or Monaco where the speed is much lower and the debris does not really fly off to far anyway.”
Palmer will make his F1 race debut with Renault at the Australian Grand Prix on the 20th March.