Will Power's IndyCar Accident At Gateway Is Why Cockpit Protection Is Needed Now
Writing off accidents as "close calls" or "a matter of inches" is not good enough anymore.
There has been much talk about the Halo cockpit protection device that is coming to Formula One in 2018. The same or a similar device will also start to be introduced in other open cockpit racing series like IndyCar and Formula 2. The backlash against the Halo has been fierce. Some fans and drivers are opposed for purely aesthetic reasons. Others think that open cockpit racing is supposed to be dangerous and that things should just stay as they are.
None of that matters. If, after seeing Will Power's accident on Saturday night at Gateway you still don't think the Halo or something similar is needed, then we might as well go back to racing without seatbelts. Yes, Power was unhurt in the crash. This was a case where a matter of inches (or less) was the difference between walking away or not. The "matter of inches" needs to be taken out of the equation.
Power's accident was the first of its kind since the FIA mandated the Halo in Formula One for 2018. IndyCar has said they are looking at something similar but have not set a hard time frame for its introduction. If IndyCar or any other series needed an example of why the Halo is needed now, just look at these pictures of the accident.
The only thing that kept Ed Carpenter's from landing on Power's head is the fact that Carpenter's car was hung-up on the wall. When something like happens again, and it will happen again, the drivers shouldn't have to hope that the wall is there to keep another car from dropping on them. If this had happened a little further down the track away from the wall, we would be writing a very different article right now.
Aesthetics be damned. Traditions be damned. The technology is here and it's not complicated. Put the Halo or something like it on these cars for 2018. There is no need to wait for a solution that makes everyone happy. Get something on open cockpit cars now. Work on finding a better-looking solution later.
Yes, racing is dangerous. That is part of the attraction. Men and women risking their lives for glory is why we love it. With the Halo, open cockpit cars will still be just as dangerous, they'll just be safer.