Before I get ranting on the topic – did you like what I did with the pun in the title? No, oh well; I bet my pun is more popular than the thing, the abomination, that it refers to – The Flip Flop or The Halo as the FIA like to call it; trying to use a name that sanctifies something that it is said 9 out of the 10 F1 teams voted against the introduction of.
By the way, did you know that the Australian name for a Flip Flop is a Thong? When I first went to Australia, I was taken aback and slightly disturbed when my cousins asked me if I wanted to wear thongs on the beach…….
We must be clear here – safety is the name of the game and The Halo has come in on a mandate to increase cockpit safety. A few terrible accidents, Jules Bianchi, Justin Wilson and Felipe Massa, lit the fire, but would any of those events have been negated by The Halo? Jules, I think not and Justin or Felipe, possibly, but the spring blade that hit Felipe could still have gone between the structure. As one wag so cleverly put it down the pub during the race, “If safety is really the name of the game then take the bloody drivers out and have the cars go round steered from the pits” When I told him the Roborace series was a goer he spluttered, frothed his Strawberry Daiquiri and mumbled some expletives through his now pinky red moustache.
Our own Lewis Hamilton has questioned whether there is any point having any helmet designs any more as the fans cannot see, cannot connect, with the drivers. A comment that is severely at odds with Liberty media, the F1 owners, having told anyone that will listen that it is their intention to get more eyeballs watching F1 than ever before (and it doesn’t do their bank balance any harm either, Ed). So why, why, oh why did no-one look at the mandatory positions for the in-car cameras before the first race? The drivers say they can see but the armchair drivers can’t, as another comedian has nicely put it in the picture I got sent on Monday.
This whole episode shames F1, turns sponsors, except Gandys(!) off, gets spectators to move to other forms of motorsport or perhaps even away from motorsport to other sports themselves (are there any of these? Ed). It seems so badly thought out and badly executed – a little like the qualifying debacle a few years ago that ended up with no-one running in Q3…………..maybe this will go after a couple of races as well?
Or maybe we can revisit the Aeroscreen, which seemed to be binned without ceremony and precious little explanation to the outside world.
My opinion – well, you know how much of a dinosaur I am; at every opportunity I keep telling you how good Group C sportscars were. As fast, if not faster, than F1, with lovely noises (don’t start on engine noise!!Ed) and, importantly, closed cockpits.
So, there you have it – spend a little longer thinking about it and working on solutions but closing the cockpit in a full clear screen so the drivers can still be seen is the way I would go.
Changing the subject totally; I want to offer my and the whole of the National Motorsport Academy team’s best wishes and good luck to Billy Monger on his return to racing in 2018. Bad things happen to innocent people everywhere, every day and it is how you deal with them and forge a way forward after the event that shows your mettle. This young man, with all of the support of his family, team, friends and fans will succeed this year – of that I am sure.
Roger Grimshaw- NMA Tutor