Despite overwhelming support from drivers, an FIA investigation showing a 17% improvement in safety and comments from Grand Prix Drivers Association Director Sebastian Vettel that “nothing justifies death” today, the Formula One Strategy Group has voted not to introduce the ‘halo’ head protection device for the 2017 season.
The Strategy Group is made up of FIA President Jean Todt, F1 head honcho Bernie Ecclestone as well as six teams – Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Williams and Force India. Todt & Ecclestone each hold 6 votes & the teams have one each, votes need a over a two thirds majority to pass.
The decision comes after today’s drivers press conference where Vettel revealed that in a vote “92-95%” of the drivers were for halo following a detailed briefing from the FIA last weekend in Budapest.
It is known that Bernie Ecclestone is against halo, while Vettel’s former team boss Christian Horner called it “an inelegant solution to the problem it is trying to deal with”.
Arguments have been made against halo on the grounds of its unaesthetic look and more seriously that it goes against the ethos of Formula One, which has always been an open seat formula and that element of danger has separated it from other classes of racing.
The move has surprised many considering the recent spate of driver deaths through blows to the head from debris across motorsport and the recent passing of Jules Bianchi from his crash at Suzuka in 2014.
If next year there is an incident whereby a driver is seriously harmed in an incident that halo could have prevented then those who voted against it today – as well as the sport itself – could face serious legal action and the kind of concern about the sports future that hasn’t been seen since Imola 1994 when two drivers, including the legendary Aryton Senna, were killed in consecutive days.