Russian Grand Prix: Red Bull to test head protection design in practice

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Daniel Ricciardo's car fitted with the 'aeroscreen' device
Red Bull's 'aeroscreen' design could be an alternative to the 'halo' device

Red Bull will try out their version of cockpit head protection in Friday's first practice at the Russian Grand Prix.

The device, called the 'aeroscreen', is one of two options that could be introduced into Formula 1 next season to increase safety.

Governing body the FIA has committed to introducing a device that increases driver protection from flying debris.

It has primarily focused so far on an alternative device called the 'halo'.

However, Red Bull's version could be used instead if it proves as effective.

Red Bull have developed their design - in collaboration with the FIA - because they believe it is more aesthetically pleasing than the halo.

The two devices share a similar elliptical shape above the driver's head but differ in the way they are fixed at the front of the cockpit.

The halo has a central strut in front of the driver, which disappears from view during driving because of a human's binocular vision.

A close-up of the 'halo'
A close-up of the 'halo' as tested by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen

The aeroscreen underwent FIA safety testing last week and performed well enough to make it a genuine contender to be used in 2017.

It has two side struts that line up with the wing mirror supports with the aim of not obstructing vision.

The aeroscreen also has an integrated screen, which could provide extra protection.

FIA F1 director Charlie Whiting said last month that the halo was the more likely device to be adopted but revealed at the last race in China that progress on the Red Bull design had accelerated.

Whiting told "Personally I would say the canopy is a more aesthetically pleasing solution. But it's only a matter of taste.

"However, if both solutions perform equally well in testing, I would be surprised if there's an overwhelming desire to keep the halo."

The device was being fitted to Daniel Ricciardo's car in the pits on Thursday afternoon.

BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Tom Clarkson says the Australian will wear special glasses with cameras in them on his installation lap on Friday so officials can judge the impact of the aeroscreen on visibility.

"So far, the impression with it is that it should be OK, visibility-wise," Ricciardo said. "It's pretty open at the front and it doesn't really block the vision."

However, Britain's Lewis Hamilton criticised the aesthetic appeal of the "aeroscreen".

"That screen looks so bad," he said.

"It looks like a riot shield. You've got this cool, elegant, futuristic Formula 1 car and you've got a riot shield sitting on top of it.

"Safety is a constant thing that always needs to be worked on, as long as it doesn't affect the aesthetics, the style and the coolness of Formula 1."

Increased driver head protection has been pursued by the FIA ever since the death of three-time world champion Ayrton Senna in 1994.

The Brazilian legend was killed when a suspension arm pierced his helmet after a wheel was torn off in a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix.

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