FIA’s Jean Todt defends Halo F1 system

March 14 2018 , 10:19 pm

The president of the FIA, Jean Todt, has issued a robust defence of his organisation’s decision to impose the Halo cockpit protection system this season. Todt dismissed criticism from the Mercedes executive director, Toto Wolff, as “childish” and stressed that the FIA would not shy away from making difficult decisions in the interests of safety.

The Halo device will make its race debut at the opening round in Melbourne but has attracted criticism on aesthetic grounds and because it is in contradiction of the spirit of an open-cockpit series.

Wolff has said he would remove it with a chainsaw if given the opportunity but Todt rejected his stance. “I will not react to whatever has been said. It is simply a childish game,” he said.

“It’s very inappropriate, whoever you are, to publicly deny something which is introduced,” he added. “For me, constructive criticism is always good because it makes you move forwards.”

Drivers have been divided over Halo. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was initially opposed, then later supported its introduction but remained critical of how it will affect the look of cars.

Todt, however, stressed that it had been a driver-led initiative. “In December 2015, I got a letter signed by [the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association directors] Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Alex Wurz, urging us to decide for head protection,” he said.

Opposition remains but Todt was insistent that the FIA would not compromise. “Last year we had 42 fatalities in motor racing. It’s unacceptable,” he said. ‚“It’s a human attitude to be reluctant on change. But once we know that the change, after a lot of testing, is good, we should implement it.”

Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes ends this year but he expects a new deal to be done soon. “I hope it will happen [before Melbourne],” he said.

The British driver was confident his team are in a strong position as they head to Australia. “I go to the factory every week and see what it is happening and there is no coincidence that we are world champions and we are No 1,” he added.


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