The rocky road to the introduction of frontal cockpit protection to Formula 1 appears to be nearing its end.

For 2018, the 'Halo' is set to be attached to all cars, as announced by the FIA following the latest meeting of the F1 Strategy Group on Wednesday.

The immediate reaction from fans online is one of outcry and surprise. After all, the Halo was thought to be an idea that, despite having extensive testing and gaining traction since it first broke cover ahead of the 2016 season, had been shelved in favour of the more elegant 'Shield', as per the previous Strategy Group meeting in April.

Following the first (and only) public test of the Shield by Sebastian Vettel during practice for the British Grand Prix last week, completing just a single lap before reporting back that he felt "dizzy" using it due to the downwash it produced. One week later, the Strategy Group had canned it completely and gone back to Plan A: the unpopular Halo.

The decision to lock Halo in - pending approval from the World Motor Sport Council - fulfils the FIA's commitment to introduce some kind of frontal protection in the wake of Jules Bianchi's death back in 2015 from head injuries sustained nine months earlier. The passing of Bianchi and IndyCar's Justin Wilson put the push for cockpit protection high on the agenda; the sport's bosses had to be seen to do something.

And that has been the driving force behind Halo's return. Of the three solutions available - Halo, Shield and the short-lived 'Aeroscreen' which Lewis Hamilton likened to a riot shield - it is the most-tested and most reliable. It's also perhaps the most ungainly and unaesthetic.

The look of Halo has been the biggest turn-off for fans. The notion of head protection and the impact it has on racing is something only the drivers can have a real opinion on - after all, fans aren't the ones putting their lives at risk. However, the look of F1 has been an important factor in stirring interest in such a sensory sport. The changes made for 2017 have had a hugely positive impact, the new beefier, meaner look going down a treat with fans.

To now add the three-pronged Halo on top is a bit like putting whipped cream on top of a roast dinner...

From a safety point of view, the drivers have been largely split on their opinion. Some are against any kind of cockpit protection at all, believing it to be their decision to put their lives at risk. Lewis Hamilton previously said he hoped the Halo would be optional, and that he would choose not to use it. Others have also been clear on their anti-protection stance, such as Jolyon Palmer, who said in Austria: "I think still we're all racing with the risk that we have really."

Time has been running out for some kind of cockpit protection to be introduced for 2018 as teams begin to complete their designs and finalise plans for their new chassis. While the FIA's statement said that "certain features of its design will be further enhanced", the Halo has still not been seen since last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

If 'Halo 2' is to be the design that is finally agreed upon and pushed forward for 2018, it needs to be out on-track soon - and even then, it would be subject to much tinkering and debate from F1's powers that be.

But is something better than nothing? Would a functional, albeit imperfect, Halo be a good middle ground for F1 to strike for 2018 before pushing on to install and introduce something more long term the following year? Or should the sport take its time and wait until it has an ideal solution that keeps as many parties as possible happy? That said, weren't we are this stage this time last year too?

Those are the questions that will be thrown back and forth in the coming weeks, meaning that in reality, we're still a way off the finish line for Halo.

And all the while, the clock is ticking...

 

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