F1 Wants to Force Teams to Use Cockpit Protection in 2018

The attempt is not expected to go over well.

Mark Thompson, Getty Images Sport

Head injuries are an omnipresent concern in Formula One. At the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, Felipe Massa was almost killed by a spring that came loose from Rubens Barrichello's BGP 001 that bounced up off the track and into his helmet, benching him for the remainder of the 2009 season. The same year in a junior series, Henry Surtees, son of Formula One champion John Surtees, was killed when a loose wheel bounced into his head. At the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, Jules Bianchi was critically injured when his Marussia plunged itself underneath a recovery vehicle lifting the stricken Sauber of Adrian Sutil from the track. He later died from his injuries.

This is the biggest safety concern within the last few decades, having been responsible for the last two deaths in the sport's history. As a result, there is a push to find a head protection system capable of sheltering drivers from dangers both small and large, be it a bouncing bolt, a loose wheel, or a JCB. Multiple solutions have been trialled, with Ferrari giving the "halo" concept, a reinforced protective structure above the driver's head, a test in 2016. Complaints included reduced visibility, potential difficulty in extricating an injured driver, and skepticism over whether the structure could withstand a serious impact. The "Shield" concept was tried this past weekend, but was met with similar disdain, along with a new complaint: dizziness.

The FIA said that though it wants the shield idea to be ready for next season, it will force the halo instead if the shield proves difficult to develop further, according to Autosport. The halo itself is divisive among drivers, with Romain Grosjean taking a firm stance against it, citing many of the same complaints as Vettel with the shield, though he says the topic is no longer discussed at Grand Prix Drivers' Association meetings.

Of course, the FIA tried to force the halo through last year, and it needn't be said how effective that attempt was. The FIA may have more leverage this time around, though, so keep an eye on any attempts it makes to strong-arm the teams.