Niki Lauda has warned Formula One could risk 'ruining its DNA' if it adopts cockpit protection.
His comments come in the wake of Red Bull Racing trialling its 'aeroscreen' at the Russian Grand Prix last weekend, albeit only in opening practice, with Daniel Ricciardo doing a single lap. Ferrari also ran with its 'halo' design in winter testing, described by the FIA
as its 'preferred option' for 2017.
“Whatever we do in the future we need to make sure we don't ruin the DNA of F1,” Lauda told Sky Sports
. “If we come up with cars where everything is covered, you don't see the drivers and you don't see the helmets, then we have to be careful.
“F1 today is safe.”
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone agrees with the three-time F1 world champion and Mercedes non-executive chairman.
“I don't like the screen and l don't think it is going to save anybody,” Ecclestone remarked.
“As with everything in life, you need to look at the positives and the only thing is we will have a lot of pit-stops for when they come in to clean the screen.”
Opinions among the drivers
, meanwhile, were divided after the 'aeroscreen' made its first public appearance in Russia, and while Lewis Hamilton remains steadfast in his dislike of the concept, others say they prefer the halo, and some, like Jenson Button, just think some form of improved cockpit protection is necessary to avoid further fatalities.
“I haven't looked into it [the problems with the aeroscreen], I only saw it on the [TV] screen [in the garage], but I used to watch F1 powerboats in Bristol Dock about 20, or 30 years ago actually, and they had open cockpits which was the norm – and suddenly they had closed cockpits, and I thought they looked pretty cool. And it's the same sort of thing – you get used to it,” Button pointed out. “You can still see the crash helmet, you can still tell which driver is which and, if it's doing what we hope it is, which is safety, and improving safety to the head, it's definitely the way forward.”