Christian Horner insists that the F1 Strategy Group has done the right thing by postponing the introduction of the Halo to allow for more research and development.
He says that the sport had to get it right first time, especially as any solution will also be used in other categories.
“We’ve agreed for a system to come in in ‘18, but the system needs to be fully researched, fully developed, fully tested,” said Horner. “And at the moment other than a couple of install laps from a couple of drivers, there’s been no mileage put on this. We’re testing tyres for miles and miles before they’re introduced next year. The same has to go with a safety component in order to ensure that we haven’t introduced a risk that wasn’t previously there as well. I think the right things being done.
“The analysis, the research the development of the system is going to be really ramped up over the next 12 months to ensure that when it is introduced, it’s introduced properly, and not just for F1, across the different categories. Because this has a knock-on effect all the way down to entry level at F4 or Formula Renault. It’s important we get this right.”
Horner doesn’t expect a ‘revolt’ from the drivers over the Halo issue.
“I’d be surprised. A couple of drivers who have driven with the system haven’t been entirely happy with it either, and they’ve only done an installation lap. So it’s not been tested, it’s not been fully proven at variants of different circuits. Of course the objective is to improve the safety for the drivers, but to do it in way that doesn’t introduce any unforeseen aspects that could interfere with that. So I think the logical and sensible thing is being done – further testing, further development to get it on all the drivers’ cars.”
He also made it clear that timing had become a problem in terms of teams being a long way down the line with car development.
“The big issue for next year is that many teams – not ourselves but many of the smaller teams – have to freeze their chassis designs at the end of this month. We’re already late for them with a big regulation change. For this to be delayed for another month or another six weeks, will serious compromise them for next year’s championship.”
Asked about the implications of a serious accident in 2017 where the Halo could have helped he said: “It’s very difficult. There are always, ‘what ifs’? What if it was introduced and it created an accident, or a driver couldn’t get out of the car, or a piece of material was deflected into the driver? There are so many what ifs.
“This system is an interesting one, and it just needs further development to ensure that when it is introduced it provides the safety that the drivers are looking for, and of course all the teams are looking for their drivers.”