As the British Grand Prix weekend began with free practice sessions led by Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes back on top, Ferrari tried a new shield device to protect drivers from debris and flying detritus from hitting their heads. The race for head protection is a noble charge to be sure but opinions are mixed about F1 using a windshield or closed cockpit concept.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took to the track with the new shield and his review was not positive:
“I tried it this morning and I got a bit dizzy,” said Vettel.
“The forward vision is not very good.
“I think it’s because of the curvature, you get quite a bit of distortion.
“There was a lot of downwash down the straight, coming off the back of my helmet and pushing my head forward.
“We had a run planned with it, but I didn’t like it, so we took it off.”
I’m not against safety but there is an element to F1 that is core to its format…open cockpit, open wheel. There are divided ranks on closing either of those elements but for me, these moves are fueled by pragmatism and sometimes they can beget problems that didn’t exist before.
I’m not an engineer but I can’t help but think these high degradation tires with sticky rubber will have sticking bits all over the shield and as the cars are only making one pit stop, there isn’t time to continually clean the shield like in NASCAR or WEC. You can’t have a large tear-off on these things wither as those sheets would be in the radiator ducts of all the trailing cars.
While rain mitigation chemicals have come a long way and they are great at whisking moisture off of helmet visors, I would assume they would be used on the shield but the surface is much larger and if the curvature of the shield already is challenging, then adding rain might be very detrimental to vision but again, the Rain-X style chemical they use are really, really good so I could be wrong. In this case, though, you’ll have to surfaces with rain streak…the visor and the shield.
Free Practice 2
The session was led by Mercedes but it wasn’t the properly rested and re-booted Lewis Hamilton at the top, it was his teammate, Valtteri Bottas who has been doing a terrific job of making his mark on Mercedes of late.
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m29.098s||0.602s||32|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m29.586s||1.090s||35|
|10||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m30.383s||1.887s||42|
|11||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m30.555s||2.059s||26|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m30.562s||2.066s||34|
|13||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m30.624s||2.128s||43|
Hat Tip: Autosport