The controversial 'halo' cockpit protection device is on course to be introduced to Formula 1 from 2017 as the FIA continues to work on its development following a public airing in pre-season testing.
The much discussed device, which had only been seen in renderings up until March after months of development, broke cover during testing as Ferrari completed a handful of laps with its version of the device.
Though Ferrari stressed it was an early prototype that would undergo many modifications before it was ever used in competition, its surprise reveal was seen as indicative of how far progress had come in recent months.
Indeed, FIA Formula 1 Director Charlie Whiting, in a briefing with media at the Australian Grand Prix, says it has already undergone extensive testing and suggests it is on course for introduction from 2017 as the alternative proposed by Red Bull wouldn't be ready in time.
“I think it is going pretty well,” he said. “We have tested the so called halo and it has been tested extensively now and I think it will offer very good protection for a flying wheel. That is the main thing that has been tested so far.
“We need to do a thorough risk assessment on it, a number of other related things like extrication and talk to medical crews about it but I think it is going quite well. We have a separate working group just to deal with that with that which is headed up by Mercedes and Ferrari and they are doing a really good job with that.”
Asked whether he felt the 'halo' would potentially create other issues, such as deflecting a piece of small debris into the cockpit into a less protected area, Whiting says risks
“This is a job for the professionals and we have professionals doing a proper risk assessment on element analysis,” he continued. “I take the point, I am not qualified to say how one goes about that, but things like the high nose vs. the low nose argument, there was suggestion that the low nose might see cars go underneath another one.
“The assessment we made was that there were far more accidents likely to happen with a high nose to wheel contact resulting in cars launching. That sort of thing is a simple risk assessment and the halo is more complex and there are many more things to assess. We do have professionals doing that and I will trust their judgement.”
Whiting went on to add any device would be mandatory, in reaction to Lewis Hamilton's claim he won't race with it, and says any implementation in F1 would eventually trickle down to other series' over time.