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Drivers have given a lukewarm reception to the FIA's latest interpretation of its cockpit protection device after it was revealed privately for the first time ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.

The FIA spent much of 2016 gathering data on the divisive 'Halo' with trials on different cars during practice sessions up to the end of the season, but it hasn't been seen again in 2017.

Now it seems the 'Halo' development is on indefinite hiatus after it emerged this weekend that FIA has been secretly trialling a new device based loosely on the Aeroscreen concept designed by Red Bull and given a public airing during last year's Russian Grand Prix.

Though unsuccessful safety evaluations carried out by the FIA led to the Aeroscreen device itself to be dropped, the governing body has instead proposed a solution which - according to drivers - bears hallmarks of the latest concept, dubbed the 'Shield'.

"It's a different version [to the aeroscreen], it's still just a drawing at the moment," says Force India's Esteban Ocon. "They know how they can produce it, but at the moment there will be a lot of improvements coming. It's still in the design process, what they've shown is that it comes from further in the front nose to a lower bit, it's not going straight away up to 90 degrees, basically it comes gently. It's almost like a closed cockpit car but it doesn't close."

"There was some talks which is good because safety is a priority on everything. I was quite in favour of this aeroscreen before, and if we can work it out and make it work as good as the halo I would appreciate this much more than the halo."

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Regardless, the debate over the use of any cockpit protection device remains, with some wary of the FIA's approach to compromise both sides of the argument without managing to appease either party.

"For my personal opinion, it's more like either we don't do it or we do it fully" Marcus Ericsson told Crash.net.

"To do something in between I'm not sure about that, maybe it's better not to do it or do it all the way, let's see what they come up with. This was a very first sketch in this project so maybe if they give it a bit more time they will come up with some more facts around it, because obviously they're not sure how much protection this will add."

"[Opinion amongst drivers is] 50/50 more or less. Everyone's fighting a side and no-one really has a clear answer," revealed Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat.

Staunch opposition remains though, with a number of drivers rejecting the new device in favour of retaining the open-cockpit formula, particularly given the positive aesthetic feedback with the latest generation car.

"I'm against Shield, Aeroscreen or Halo," Romain Grosjean said."I think Formula 1 is back to where it should be, back to really cool cars, aggressive cars and I don't want to put any stuff on that could destroy what we've just built."

"My opinion is I wouldn't mind not having anything," Haas team-mate Kevin Magnussen agreed. "I'm happy as it is now, but yeah, I think visibility is going to be a big issue, at least in the wet. In Brazil last year, we couldn't see anything without any protection, so with the screen I'm sure there's going to be no visibility in a situation like that.

"Maybe it will be OK, but with mist on the screen, it could be tricky. Let's see what they come up with."

"The shield as they call it, It definitely looks better than the halo I think there's no doubt about it" added Nico Hulkenberg.

"For me we don't necessarily need more head protection, that's my point of view. I think the cars should stay open as a single seater always was. It's a halfway house because the shield doesn't protect from the heavy items such as tyres and stuff. It's smaller and light items, I think we need to question it and see if that's what the drivers or the FIA wants."

It is understood the proposal was shown to gauge reaction from drivers and teams ahead of a formal decision on whether to pursue development at the end of the month.

It was decided in July 2016 that a form of cockpit protection was to be developed with a view to a 2018 introduction, though this still has to undergo formal ratification.

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