The FIA has confirmed it is aiming to introduce a new, more “aesthetically pleasing” iteration of Formula 1’s ‘Halo’ cockpit protection device for the 2021 season.
The Halo became mandatory for all F1 cars starting in 2018 as part of the sport’s push to improve safety standards following a lengthy research and development phase.
Charles Leclerc was the first driver to be involved in an incident where the Halo was struck by another car at last Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, with Fernando Alonso’s wheel making contact with the Halo after his own car went airborne.
Several cockpit protection options were considered for 2018 before the Halo was settled on, but research and development is continuing ahead of the introduction of a revised device for the 2021 season.
“There is further research going on for a new iteration, probably 2021, for a possibly more aesthetically pleasing to some,” Whiting said.
“But that’s not the predominant reason for doing it. I have to say the Halo project was the most thoroughly researched project we’ve ever done, by a long way.
“We put an awful lot of work into trying to look at all the incidents where it may have helped, you’ve probably seen the presentations, we tried to assess what would have happened with or without it.
“It was a massively complex piece of research, it would have to be similarly thorough if we want to do another version of it.”
The incident involving Leclerc reignited much of the debate regarding the Halo, which had faced a great deal of criticism in the lead-up to its introduction, including from some active drivers.
FIA president Jean Todt said he felt the incident involving Leclerc, as well as a crash in Formula 2 in Spain earlier this year that also saw the Halo get struck, proved it was the correct call to implement the device.
“I don’t have any problem with the look of it, and I still have a passion for racing and Formula 1. I was a bit surprised about all those comments about how bad it was for Formula 1,” Todt said.
“But clearly we were convinced that it was the right decision. We’ve been talking a lot about this Leclerc crash in Spa, but it was a Formula 2 driver who was very happy to have the result of the halo.
“We were always convinced that it was the right decision. When you see what happened in Spa and maybe what happened yesterday with [Marcus] Ericsson which was a terrific crash we are more comfortable to have it.”