Halo introduction came at “huge” cost to Force India

Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Andrew Green, technical director of the Sahara Force India F1 Team has said that the introduction of the halo safety device has had an unwanted effect on the team’s finances.

The divisive halo was made mandatory on all cars competing in the 2018 Formula 1 championship in a bid to further improve driver safety in the event of flying debris. However, with some key personnel speaking out against the appendage – including Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport executive director Toto Wolff – the long-term future of the halo is unknown.

Force India’s Green explained why the halo had become a financial burden – it meant that the team couldn’t carry their 2017 chassis over to the new VJM11, launched yesterday morning. Green estimated the cost of the new design in the “hundreds of thousands, if not million-dollar mark”. Even with the widespread changes, Green insisted that the “DNA” of the car remains.

“Expense-wise, it’s huge, because we had to do a new chassis,” Green said, speaking to reporters at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the venue of official winter testing.

“We wouldn’t have anticipated doing a new chassis this year, given the amount of changes that we made last year, which was huge for a new regulation change.

“We’d always look to try and get two years out of the chassis if possible.”

Force India have developed a reputation as Formula 1’s most cost efficient team, with their rather modest budget being converted into two successive top four finishes in the Constructors’ Championship in 2016 and 2017. However on top of the additional cost of incorporating the halo, the team learned after securing fourth place in the 2017 championship that every point scored in the Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix would add over $5,000 to their entry fee for 2018.

Courtesy of Sergio Pérez‘s and Esteban Ocon‘s combined total of ten points (split 8-2 in Pérez’s favour) in those two races, Force India felt the effects of a further cost of $51,610.

Green added that the halo had a huge impact on aerodynamic performance and understanding. Additionally, changes to Mercedes‘s engine installation has seen significant changes from last year. And Green says that development and modifications will be ongoing in the run up to the season opening race in Australia.

“From an aerodynamic perspective, the work is still ongoing really,” Green noted. “There’s a significant downstream effect [from the halo], especially around the rear wing area.

“It’s not designed to be an aerodynamic device. It doesn’t do us any favours in that department.

“It requires a lot of work to mitigate the issues that it causes. We’re still actively working on that, and I don’t think we’ll have a solution until Melbourne. I’m confident that we’ll have it under control by then.”