Grand Prix Drivers’ Association chairman Alex Wurz insists any future cockpit protection device in Formula 1 must prioritise saving lives at all costs even if it is considered ugly.
The ‘halo’ was trialled by Ferrari in pre-season testing, and was applauded and derided in equal measure, with the criticism mainly for its looks.
Red Bull is to reveal its alternative screen system at a demonstration later this month. It has been given the thumbs up from drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat.
While Wurz would prefer some form of jet-fighter canopy, he said the main purpose of the halo – which is likely to get the FIA’s green light for 2017 – had to take precedence.
“Ask me ‘Is the halo beautiful?’ No. Ask me ‘Is the function the correct one to implement?’ Yes, and most of the drivers say the same,” Wurz toldAutosport.
“At least when they voted for it, that something has to happen in this direction, it was a 100 per cent vote.
“And again, I’m speaking about the function, not its beauty. It’s debatable as to what is beautiful and what isn’t.
“With the halo or any head protection, if you are the unlucky one and an object is coming at you out of the sky, then we just want that person to have a high chance of survival.
“It will not take away any courage or skill, such as going through Eau Rouge at 320km/h.”
Wurz suggests those looking for something more aesthetically pleasing should not dismiss the halo entirely as its looks are likely to improve over time.
“It’s about function first,” said Wurz.
“It’s very implementable, and now we have the function the designers will make it look more beautiful or come up with a different-looking design.
“I’m sure it won’t be the final one [version]. There will be upgrades.
“In two or three years it may be even better looking, and maybe in four years’ time we will all say ‘Wow! This is a stark improvement’.”
Wurz concedes he has only seen the drawings so far of the Red Bull device, and while unsure of its effectiveness at present, recognises its intent.
“It’s trying to do what the halo is trying to achieve, which is increase safety for the drivers,” he said.
“The Red Bull design is obviously trying to make it look a little better than the halo. Some like it more, some like it less.
“The Red Bull version at least visualises something they had in mind, and does not yet calculate it with the structures, and the function it needs to have.”