Saturday 25 November 2017

I will refuse to race with halo safety system - Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton

Philip Duncan

World champion Lewis Hamilton has reiterated his opposition towards the Halo safety device after threatening not to use it should it become mandatory in Formula One.

The controversial concept, which was pioneered by Hamilton's Mercedes team and is designed to improve driver head protection, has been trialled by Ferrari at this week's final pre-season test in Barcelona.

But after describing the safety device as the "worst modification in Formula One history", Hamilton went one step further by saying he would even contest using it.

The FIA, Formula One's governing body, announced last week that it intends to improve cockpit protection for the 2017 campaign with the Halo their preferred option.

"If it is going to come in I hope we have an option to use it or not because I will not be using it on my car," Hamilton told reporters on Friday.

"I hope that's not what they're bringing, I really do. Ultimately it's the driver's protection so we should have a choice individually.

"I like it the way it is now and when I get in the car I know there is a certain risk.

"Safety is a very, very important issue for sure, but there are risks that we take and you have to decide how much of a risk you are going to take. For me I would rather drive without it and risk it."

The FIA 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 summer of that year after he was hit on the crash helmet by an errant tyre while competing in a Formula Two race at Brands Hatch.

Briton Justin Wilson died last August after he was struck on the crash helmet by a piece of flying debris in an IndyCar race.

Sebastian Vettel, who followed Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in testing the concept on Friday, believes the Halo would have saved both the lives of Surtees and Wilson.

''In principle I agree it doesn't look very nice, but equally it helps increase the safety, it helps saving lives," said Vettel, the four-time champion.

''There would be at least two drivers in the last four years that I remember that would still be around - Henry Surtees and Justin Wilson - if we had this type of system. I think it can be very ugly, but nothing justifies not having these two guys around.''

Meanwhile, Hamilton completed 69 laps at the Circuit de Catalunya on Friday to take his tally over the eight days of testing to 638, the equivalent of nearly 10 race distances.

The Briton stopped on track with a technical issue shortly before lunch, incredibly the first such gremlins for Mercedes this winter.

"It has been an incredible two weeks for the team," Hamilton added. "I am glad that I broke it at the end. It is better to have broken it now then find something in Melbourne.

"They will go and rectify that and improve it for the next time we go out"

Hamilton will be bidding to win his fourth championship when the new season gets under way in Australia on March 20.

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