Saturday 1 October 2016

F1 facing driver backlash over safety

Motorsport

Daniel Johnson

Published 29/07/2016 | 02:30

Bernie Ecclestone, chief executive of the sport's governing body, said the 'halo' safety device was unanimously opposed. Photo: PA Wire
Bernie Ecclestone, chief executive of the sport's governing body, said the 'halo' safety device was unanimously opposed. Photo: PA Wire

Formula One's power brokers risked provoking a major row with the drivers last night by rejecting the controversial 'halo' safety device on a day when Sebastian Vettel demanded its introduction because it could save lives.

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After a four-hour meeting in Geneva, Bernie Ecclestone, chief executive of the sport's governing body, and the leading teams astonishingly agreed not to introduce the halo next year.

The head protection has been shelved until 2018 at the earliest, or could be abandoned in place of another design. Jean Todt, the FIA president, could have imposed the halo on safety grounds but the Frenchman is a consensual figure and it is understood he decided not to. The vote leaves the sport's rulers and competitors fundamentally at odds, and risks a major scandal should a driver be injured next year in an accident where the halo could have made a difference.

Ecclestone, who claimed the halo was unanimously opposed at the meeting, said: "No halo. We've got to come up with some head protection. The halo maybe is not the right way to go. We're going to come up with something better than that."

Asked if he feared a backlash from the drivers, F1's chief executive added: "I don't think so. Most of them didn't want it anyway."

That directly contradicts the claim that Vettel made here at Hockenheim earlier in the day. The four-time champion's relationship with Ecclestone had already cooled and will be damaged further by this row.

Vettel said the device had the support of 95 per cent of drivers after Englishman Jolyon Palmer suggested the majority of drivers were against it.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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