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Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

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.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

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.

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m28.496s 31
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m28.543s 0.047s 35
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m28.828s 0.332s 36
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m28.956s 0.460s 36
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m29.098s 0.602s 32
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m29.586s 1.090s 35
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m29.936s 1.440s 37
8 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m30.006s 1.510s 36
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m30.238s 1.742s 28
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
14 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m30.661s 2.165s 33
15 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m30.695s 2.199s 37
16 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Honda 1m30.782s 2.286s 31
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m30.835s 2.339s 33
18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m30.879s 2.383s 25
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m31.616s 3.120s 27
20 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber/Ferrari 1m31.929s 3.433s 30

Hat Tip: Autosport

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • charlie white

    Hey NC, how did you watch FP2 on NBCSN? The cable channel was running Tour De France at the advertising time slot for FP2 with the only programming note telling viewers the Dan Patrick Show would follow afterwards. Nothing about FP2 in the lower thirds graphics crawl! I, eventually, went to the network’s web portal to watch it. This situation only increases my deep-seeded hatred for NBCSN(and NBC Sports overall) and I can only hope Liberty Media gives the broadcast rights to one of its own properties like E!.

  • Junipero Mariano

    For sure, the visual distortion is an issue, and it’d be interesting to see if and how they fix it.

    Hasn’t there been much less tire degradation this season? Hasn’t there been much less tire debris on track as a result? I haven’t seen the black fields of tire particles this year compared to 2014 or ’15.

    Wouldn’t the mechanics be pulling the tear offs during a pit stop? They would be much more able to control where the discarded plastic would go.

  • jakobusvdl

    To me this iteration of a screen /shield looks better than the toilet seat (halo), and Red Bulls screen. So the thinking is progressing towards a more aesthetic solution, and can hopefully meet the safety objectives.
    The visual distortion would make this current screen unacceptable, given the margins these guys position their cars to, but I’d think keeping the screen clear of crud and water would be achievable – how about something like the motorised strip that they have on the in car camera’s?.

  • jakobusvdl

    Fair enough, its only FP2, and as young Seb says “FP who gives a s☆~t”, but those FP2 times have familiar spread.
    Mercedes, +0.3sec Ferrari, +0.3sec Red Bull, +1.2 to 2.2sec everyone else except Sauber who are another 1.0sec behind.
    So……… let’s drop Mercedes, Ferrari and RBR and have some proper close racing!
    There’s an exception to the spread, with Hulkenberg off the front of the pack by 0.4sec. Which is something he’s achieved on other weekends.
    Is Hulkenberg out driving the Renault, or is the Renault the fourth fastest car and both drivers are massively under performing in races?
    Also I’m chuffed to see McLaren are in that pack, not back wrangling with Sauber, or on props in the pits.