Leading drivers supporting the introduction of a cockpit protection device to Formula 1 have welcomed the news that the FIA is to channel its focus towards the so-called 'halo'.
Following its surprise public reveal during pre-season testing in March, the controversial device has split opinion amongst leading motorsport figures and fans – largely for its ungainly appearance -, though it is mostly supported by the F1 drivers themselves who have been campaigning for improvements in this area in the wake of head injury related deaths for Jules Bianchi and Justin Wilson.
Though an alternative device – the more conventional 'Aeroscreen' - was trialled by Red Bull Racing during the Russian Grand Prix and won more favourable views outwardly, it is understood the FIA has decided to pursue the 'halo' as it is more developed towards a targeted introduction for 2017.
With the 'halo' seen on the Ferrari in Barcelona set to be revised aesthetically before it would be introduced, Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso – three of the more vocal advocates in the campaign for better cockpit protection – are pleased to see progress being made and trust the FIA in its decision.
“I think we have to trust the FIA. In terms of safety it's the only area of the car that really needs a good upgrade, as we have seen many times,” said Button. “I trust in the FIA, as long as it doesn't make us go cross-eyed I'm all for it.”
“It's difficult to comment without trying,” added Alonso. “If they chose that one it's because they saw some advantage more than the other solutions so I agree with that and hopefully we can try it soon.”
Rosberg went on to use the example of the loose drain cover that was flicked into the path of Jenson Button during the Monaco Grand Prix as to why such a device will be crucial in the quest for improved safety standards
“The Halo can help in some instances with such a drain, I would expect. So maybe it is another example where it could have been very beneficial. I understand the criticisms, but if you go and read the newspapers from 1968, where Jackie Stewart was advocating change for safety and being lynched in the papers, it's exactly the same today. But I think it's the right way.”
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton, having publically lambasted the notion of such a device, has seemingly relented on his previous claim he wouldn't race with it, saying 'if that's the rule change, that's the rule change… we're all in the same boat'.