Lewis Hamilton changes stance on halo device after 'great' FIA presentation

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer at the Hungaroring
Red Bull test the new halo design feature designed to protect drivers
The Halo has been tested following calls to make the sport safer. Ferrari and Red Bull have run trials

Lewis Hamilton has abandoned his opposition to the halo head protection device that could be introduced into Formula 1 next year.

The Mercedes driver had previously said it was the "worst-looking modification in F1 history".

But after a presentation by the FIA on the benefits of the halo, Hamilton said he had been convinced.

"I don't think we can ignore it," Hamilton said. "It's a safety thing that we all have to accept."

He added it would be good if "there is any way to make it look a little better".

Governing body the FIA spent more than an hour going through the results of its research into the halo with the drivers.

It showed that in every incident in which a driver had suffered a head injury, or had narrowly avoided one, in the last 20 years, the halo was either a positive safety improvement or had a neutral effect.

The FIA also allayed the drivers' concerns on visibility.

"I paid close attention to the great briefing we were given on it," Hamilton said.

Lewis Hamilton responds in March to new Halo designs
This was Lewis Hamilton's standpoint back in March of this year

"I take safety very, very seriously. The interesting thing is that while the halo system does not look great or in the racing spirit, the chances [in one of the examples given] are 17% better of saving the driver's life.

"But it can still be improved so at some stage we will have canopies and then it will be 100%."

Hamilton admitted that the halo "doesn't look like it belongs on an F1 racing car", but he added: "It looked terrible but if one of us is going to have a 17% better chance of surviving in a serious incident…

"They showed us a GP2 car running along a wall [upside down]. Luckily he didn't get injured but it could have taken his head off."

Opposition still remains

A decision on whether the halo will be adopted in F1 in 2017 is to be taken by the strategy group of leading teams and bosses on Thursday.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is opposed to it, as is Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, both of them on the grounds of aesthetics and because it appears to be against the spirit of F1, which has always been an open-cockpit formula.

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said he was reserving his opinion until he had heard the discussion.

FIA president Jean Todt told the last strategy group meeting that he would not use the governing body's right of veto on safety grounds if the vote went against the halo.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel said: "It is not made for looks, is it? The outcome was positive in all the scenarios the FIA went through. It is now up to the FIA to push it through.

"You can debate about the advantages and disadvantages of the strategy group but overall we need to trust the results of the FIA and their findings and on balance it always looked positive."

McLaren driver Jenson Button added: "The decision has to be taken on safety grounds. It is not for us to decide whether we have it or not. It should be decided by the sport as a whole.

"If the FIA decide it is a safety issue not to have it on the car, we should have it. If they don't think it's an issue us not having it, we shouldn't have it.

"It shouldn't be a question for teams. It is a safety issue. That's the way it should be."

Jules Bianchi is attended to by paramedics following his crash at Suzuka in 2014
Avoiding fatal accidents, such as that of Jules Bianchi at Suzuka in 2014, is goal of the halo design
Ferrari test drive the halo
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel has also driven a car with a halo device installed

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