The recent test by Ferrari of the halo head protection system has been welcomed by four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, with the New Zealander happy that progress has been made in the development of head protection in single seater racing.
Following the sad loss of Justin Wilson in an incident at Pocono when the popular Briton has struck on the head by debris, Dixon has revealed he is happy that action is now being taken to progress safety on open-wheel, open-cockpit cars, even though some drivers are not behind the development.
“It’s great to see someone’s invested time and money and actually created the thing to where it can be tested,” said Dixon to Motorsport.com. “How often have we heard this kinda thing and its just talk or it’s just a drawing? This is a massive step in the right direction.
“Are there better ways to do it? Possibly. But every breakthrough needs a starting point and this looks like a good starting point.
“To me, the important thing is that seeing the Halo in reality, not just a concept, has at least got people talking about it more. Lewis [Hamilton] hates the look, [Nico] Hulkenberg hates the concept, [Kimi] Raikkonen said he didn’t really notice it.
“I’m not biased either way between halos or canopies – whichever works best. But the Halo shows something’s actually moving forward at last and that will trigger others into being proactive, hopefully. They’ll start refining the idea – like, ‘Why don’t you do this or this modification?’ and we’ll gradually get to where we want it to be.”
Despite being happy with it being tested, Dixon does not believe the design seen on the Ferrari would be suitable for IndyCar, particularly on the banked ovals due to needing complete visibility, but hopes a different version appears that will be able accommodate those ovals.
“The problem for us in IndyCar is that as it stands now, the hoop of the halo would probably be right in our line of sight when we’re on banked ovals,” said Dixon. “In the turns, we’re kind of looking up and around, trying to see as far ahead as we possibly can.
“But that’s fine, we could have a different version of the same idea. And the other great thing is that it looks like it would be a standard component that can be added to an existing chassis. That means we wouldn’t have to delay it until the next-generation IndyCar.”
Dixon knows that motorsport will remain dangerous, and points out the accident that almost cost James Hinchcliffe his life during practice for last years’ Indy 500, but insists safety features should always be developed to provide the best opportunity of survival.
“Motor racing is dangerous, there’s always going to be situations that can take someone’s life,” said Dixon. “Look how many safety features we’ve added over the years, whether it’s HANS devices, improved wraparound seats, anti-intrusion panels… but then look at what happened to [James] Hinchcliffe at Indy last year.
“There’s always the possibility for things failing or not working in some situations. But why would you try to halt progress? Why would you not try to at least give the competitors the best chance of surviving in the event of a failure?”