All eyes were on Red Bull Racing as their HALO alternative was tried out by Daniel Ricciardo in Free Practice 1. The boating influence was immediately obvious but the uprights being at the wing mirror pillar location rather than central, like Ferrari’s version, offered an unrestricted view and no impairment on the peripheral vision.
Before the Aeroscreen ran in earnest at Sochi it was put through a static test.
A Formula 1 wheel & tyre launched at it at 225 kph. We see the super soft deflect off the shield and glance the helmet, while the soft deflects cleanly. Both scenarios preferable to the alternative. There is much more testing to be done. How will it work in the rain? How will oil impact on visibility? How will night races and lights impact on visibility? It will clearly alter airflow at the airbox. Cue 70’s style XL airbox. Aesthetically though it tops the HALO version.
It does raise the question of driver extraction if the car is inverted. This is an area where when Formula 1 goes ahead with the change it needs to be sure that in removing one risk it doesn’t inflate risks elsewhere. All of that said, we are finally seeing some really innovative developments in the area of driver safety again. We might be arriving at a point where the question we ask is “Is there a stage where risk is assumed and despite everything that is done accept that there will be a compromise?” If that’s not the case, and there should never be an end to driver safety despite the inherent danger of the sport, then at some point this half canopy becomes a full canopy and effectively a driver’s survival cell. I’m fine with that by the way, but Formula 1 needs to start having that discussion.
First Practice Session: Position: 6, Best Time: 1:39.650, Laps: 24
Second Practice Session: Position: 5, Best Time: 1:39.084, Laps: 34
“It was different this morning running with the aeroscreen, not having the wind rolling on me and the engine sound was different as well. The visibility was pretty good, so first impressions were fine, it was driveable. Where we have the structure in place is pretty much where the mirrors are so I wouldn’t say it hindered any more than we are now in terms of visibility. Peripheral vision was fine as well. The talk about open cockpits has been going on for a while and that’s fair enough. It would be great to keep it as it is but obviously with accidents that have happened, especially more recently, I think not exploring this seems a bit disrespectful. The plan is to probably try it again on a different circuit with different scenery, a bit more undulation or something like that or maybe a night circuit. The lights could be interesting how they reflect off the screen so we’ll give it a bit more running.”
First Practice Session: Position: 8, Best Time: 1:40.218, Laps: 26
Second Practice Session: Position: 7, Best Time: 1:39.193, Laps: 32
“I think all in all it was quite successful running today. We did a useful amount of laps, and did short runs and long runs. The tyres will be very challenging here – to understand which one works better for which conditions and so on, so it will be interesting tomorrow to understand the strategy for qualifying. We have plenty of data to analyse tonight, we have to really see what the options are and what the best things to do are for Saturday and Sunday. This track has always been quite interesting in terms of tyre behaviour, so we really have to make that work. It’s quite close between us and Williams at the moment, it’s one of the tracks which should suit them the best this year. If we can take the fight to them and maybe get ahead of them, that’s our goal, that would be good.”