Kimi Raikkonen becomes first F1 driver to run with Halo closed cockpit system

03 Mar 2016 11:23

Kimi Raikkonen has become the first Formula One driver to run with the Halo closed cockpit system.

Raikkonen tested the cockpit protection device during Thursday morning's testing in Spain - the first time the system has been seen on an F1 car during a public session.

The Halo, which features a single column down the centre, is designed to shield drivers from flying debris.

Raikkonen tested the Halo for two laps at the Circuit de Catalunya before his team removed the installation.

"The halo is currently the preferred solution among a number being considered by Formula One racing's governing body, the FIA, for potential introduction in 2017, in order to offer better protection for the driver's head," reported www.formula1.com after Raikkonen's test run.

The FIA believes the Halo - a concept originally developed by Mercedes - could stop certain types of debris from reaching the driver in incidents such as that which led to the death of Indy Car star Justin Wilson last August.

The governing body has explored a number of designs aimed at protecting drivers from flying debris after Felipe Massa was struck by a spring from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn during qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Henry Surtees, the son of 1964 world champion John Surtees, was killed in the same summer after he was hit on the crash helmet by an errant tyre while competing in a Formula Two race at Brands Hatch.

Jules Bianchi also succumbed last July to the devastating injuries he sustained at the Japanese Grand in October 2014, although it is not believed improved head protection would have saved the Frenchman.

F1 race director Charlie Whiting told teams earlier this year that the FIA was making sure the Halo was in place for next season.

The FIA says the proximity of the single, central strut to the driver is such that it should have minimal effect on visibility.

But while most drivers are for pushing for improved head protection, there are some concerns in the paddock over the halo-shaped loop.

Briton Jolyon Palmer, who will make his grand prix debut for Renault at the season-opener in Australia on March 20, said earlier this week that the introduction of driver head protection goes against the traditional values of Formula One.

"I think we need to be careful not to go away from what Formula One has always been, which is an open cockpit," Palmer said.

"It is important to being able to identify the driver, and I think that is a nice touch from the sporting side.

"Rather than just seeing a car go round you can at least see the driver in it, so we have to be careful on that. I am not unhappy with how it is at the moment."