Back in July, the France's International Automobile Foundation announced its plans to mandate the "halo" cockpit protection design in Formula 1 for the 2018 season. As of Thursday, the FIA announced that it has followed through on its plans, and that the halo has been codified into the sport's regulations with "unanimous" approval from attending World Motor Sport Council members.
Autosport reports that the halo's crash test specifications have already been shared with teams. This ends the period of uncertainty surrounding the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile introduction of the halo, which was originally slated for implementation prior to the start of the 2017 season, but was delayed, with reactions from the drivers varying as much as opinions on the halo.
"For sure we all want it to be put on the car as soon as possible," said Nico Rosberg to the BBC in July of 2016, "I am disappointed and we'll look into that." Other drivers, including Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, stood in favor of the halo's implementation. ”We don’t like the looks of it but I don’t think there’s anything that justifies death,” said Vettel to Reuters.
Others fought back against the halo, with some seeing it as unnecessary, with Renault's Jolyon Palmer is among them. "F1 safety is very good at the moment," stated Palmer to the BBC, "We have very big runoffs. I am pretty happy with the safety levels we have at the moment."
Cockpit protection has been a hot topic in open wheel racing in recent years, due to head injuries sustained that some speculate could have been prevented, had the halo been integrated. The deaths of drivers such as Justin Wilson and Henry Surtees, both killed by flying debris, are speculated to have been made preventable by the use of the halo. Others, such as Dan Wheldon and Jules Bianchi, who were involved in accidents on a larger scale, may yet have survived their respective crashes, had there been more head protection in place.
The halo will do no favors for the looks of Formula 1 cars (or Formula 2 cars, for that matter), but if even one fatality is prevented by them in the future, we can't see many considering them anything other than a necessity.