Formula 1

Sebastian Vettel performs first test of the “Shield” at Silverstone

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Sebastian Vettel tests the shield during FP1 - British GP 2017. Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel got the honour of being the first driver to test the new cockpit protection “Shield” during first practice for the British Grand Prix on Friday morning.

The German ran the device, which was deemed inoffensive compared to previous prototypes trialled, for a handful of laps early in the session before it was removed to allow him to focus on preparation work.

Though many agreed it looked great, and was barely visible at times through the faster corners of the Silverstone Circuit, Vettel reported that the shield was blurry and made him feel dizzy.

During preliminary FIA investigations of the standalone screen, it was concluded that the thickness required could create a kind of fishbowl effect, and so there looks to be plenty of work still to do in fully refining this particular concept.

The shield, being developed by Italian company Isoclima, is a see-through screen that extends along the nose in front of the driver, and has been designed to provide significant protection from debris, while ensuring unrestricted forward vision for the driver.

It has also been produced with the thought of making it more aesthetically pleasing in mind, a common complaint of the Aeroscreen and in particular the Halo.

Monza was originally tabled to be the first race weekend where the shield would be run, but progress on its development has progressed more rapidly than originally anticipated, allowing the first test to take place this weekend instead.

The FIA are hoping the shield can be produced in time for the 2018 season, but early evidence suggests this could be overly optimistic. Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner has warned the governing body not to rush such a crucial operation, in order to meet that deadline however, believing 2019 would be a more realistic goal.

Despite positive comments regarding the look of the newest cockpit safety device, the subject of whether F1 should need such a device, is still very much up for debate.

What are your thoughts on the different cockpit safety devices we have seen tested so far? Are you in favour of any of them? Which concept do you prefer? Let us know in the comments section below…

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