The head of the FIA Jean Todt vented publicly at a media meeting yesterday about double standards over the controversial Halo safety device, specifically comments heard in the media from teams and drivers alike.
The Frenchman accuses his critics of having a poor memory and it was the FIA listening to them that brought about the Halo head protection device to single seaters.
Since the new 2018 cars broke cover for the first time just last month, the Halo device has been widely appraised as being ugly, and not just by the fans. Teams and their drivers have widely joked and mocked the look of the Halo.
Lewis Hamilton said when asked if he wanted to change anything on his car during testing he replied “You mean, apart from the Halo?”. Haas driver Magnussen recently said: “The Halo is ugly and annoying, annoying and embarrassing.”
During the meeting, Todt firmly pinned the blame back on the drivers, in particular the Grand Prix Drivers Association.
“Some drivers seem to have a poor memory After all, it was they who asked us to act in terms of head protection. On 16 December 2015, I received a letter from the GPDA, signed by the Directors Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Alex Wurz. They have urged us in this letter to act in matters of head protection. I responded – we’re there, we’re listening. ”
” We then pushed the development of the Halo, and when we introduced the concept at the end of July, it was the drivers who said to us: Do not give in, respect, what we asked you about security. ”
” I am surprised by the recent statements. I love Formula One, but I hate that part of Formula One. People should stand by their word. For me, this is one of the greatest values in life: loyalty, keeping the word, showing respect. We did that, but some seem to have forgotten that. ”
Fair comments from the Frenchman but he also sidesteps the real reason behind rushing through the halfway solution that has been widely critiqued by experts as at best ‘incomplete’. The Halo isn’t a full canopy with the obvious protection benefits, but an attempt to retain the open cockpit status for reasons that stretch beyond actually trying to keep the driver safe. The FIA need to have been seen to do something in the wake of the recent past where drivers such as Jules Bianchi, Henry Surtees and Justin Wilson all died in open cockpit cars. The fear of litigation is the real driver behind the Halo.
Todt then names team boss Toto Wolff, who joked at the presentation of the new Silver Arrow at Silverstone that he should be given a chainsaw to remove the halo.
“I do not agree with what he said. These are childish games. But I think it is inappropriate to criticise something that has already been introduced in Formula One. I can live with constructive criticism because it brings you forward in life. But public scolding is not good for sports-I do not see any benefit in it. “