Halo could be most effective method yet devised to reduce F1’s appeal

first_imgAs grand prix drivers go, Tony Brooks was one of the best produced by Britain. He was also among the bravest of the brave, at a time when the sport was at its most dangerous and he could expect to lose friends and rivals almost every week.When his BRM overturned and burst into flames after hitting a bank at full speed at Silverstone in 1956, he was fortunate to be thrown out of the cockpit and escape with nothing worse than a broken jaw. A year later he was lying trapped under his Aston Martin at Le Mans when a glancing blow from a passing Porsche allowed him to wriggle free, at the cost of severe cuts and bruises. Undeterred, he went on to win world championship grands prix at the world’s fastest road circuits – Spa, Monza and Reims – against drivers such as Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss. Formula One Reuse this content Ten years ago, long before anyone had even dreamed of the halo, I asked him about the differences between racing in his era, when the trackside hazards included ditches, trees and telegraph poles, and today. His reply was succinct and striking.“It’s just not the same challenge,” he said. “I’m not against the idea of safety. But in becoming so safe, it’s become a totally different sport. It’s like comparing a tightrope walker in a circus with a safety net with a tightrope walker crossing a ravine, above a great big drop.”Today’s downhill skiers and motorbike racers have airbags inside their suits. Batsmen have helmets and padding. And now, as those on Sunday who tune in to the season-opening Australian Grand Prix will discover, Formula One drivers have a halo to protect their heads. Some fans have shuddered at the sight of what looks like a bit of carbon fibre and titanium scaffolding plonked on top of the cockpit of each car. Others have shrugged. The drivers have been similarly divided, although most of them have been making noises of diplomatic acquiescence to the new reality.Max Verstappen and Nico Hülkenberg are unafraid to say they hate it. Lewis Hamilton doesn’t like the way it looks but claims that by halfway through the season we’ll be so used to it that last year’s cars will look old-fashioned. Maybe he’s right. But the halo asks some bigger questions than that. Questions about danger, about acceptable risk, about the motives for participating in a sport and for watching it.For whom do tightrope walkers and racing drivers perform? Is it for themselves, as a way of testing their courage and skill while receiving a massive adrenaline rush, or for the audience, whose admiration rises in proportion to the degree of risk? And at what point do the participants and the spectators need to be protected from the possible consequences? Facebook Fernando Alonso in the 2018 McLaren. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA Pinterest Read more Share on LinkedIn Topics Max Verstappen: ‘I’ve never doubted myself. I just drive as fast as I can’ Share on Twitter Since you’re here… Formula One 2018 Support The Guardian Twitter Anything that consistently limits a driver’s field of vision and potentially impedes his exit after a crash is surely a bad idea, even when its intention is to guard against an accident such as the one in which a detached wheel took the life of Henry Surtees in a Formula Two race at Brands Hatch almost a decade ago. But most fatal accidents are freakish, to some degree; a halo would not have prevented the head injury that took Jules Bianchi’s life after an accident at Suzuka in 2014, for example.Some sports were devised to be dangerous. Limiting the danger to suit changing attitudes and modern sensibilities is fine as long as the measures taken do not devalue a sport so profoundly that its meaning disappears. At a time when F1 is struggling to hold on to a dwindling audience, the halo could be the most effective method yet devised to reduce its appeal. If racing drivers aren’t doing something dangerous, then what’s the point of them? Share on Facebook Share on Pinterest Read more FIA’s Jean Todt defends Halo F1 system from ‘childish’ Toto Wolff criticism After Lorenzo Bandini suffered fatal burns at Monaco in 1967, straw bales were no longer used as safety barriers in F1. When Ayrton Senna’s helmet was pierced by a snapped suspension arm at Imola in 1994, the mandatory height of cockpit sides was raised. Like the introduction of safety belts and flameproof overalls in the 1960s, these were sensible precautions that did not change the nature of the sport. The halo, however, is different.In the view of Fernando Alonso, the fact that it is a safety device means “there should not be any debate” over what is probably the most controversial single technical change ever made to the sport. Jean Todt, the president of the world governing body, the FIA, sanctioned its introduction, perhaps fearful of lawsuits that might have followed fatal accidents in the future, had the device been rejected.The halo was accepted by F1 even as teams in the US equivalent, the IndyCar series, were testing a transparent wraparound aeroscreen that is potentially more effective at warding off stray flying objects – such as the spring from Rubens Barrichello’s car that fractured Felipe Massa’s skull in 2009 – and aesthetically far more pleasing.“Ugly” was how Kevin Magnussen described the halo during pre-season testing, before going on to express more ominous reservations. “It’s difficult to get into the car, difficult to get out of the car, difficult to get the steering wheel on and off, just awkward and annoying,” the Haas driver said. There was also the question of the central pillar obstructing the driver’s view. “It distracts your eye when you change direction like in a chicane and you have to move your vision across the pillar,” he said, adding that at places such as Spa’s Eau Rouge and Austin’s Turn One, which feature sharp elevation changes, the halo’s rim could block the sight of an incident ahead. Sportblog comment Share on Messenger … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Share via Email Motor sport Share on WhatsApplast_img read more

Israel vs Argentina cancelled after Messi threats

first_imgLionel Messi Israel vs Argentina friendly cancelled following Messi threats Goal Last updated 1 year ago 08:55 6/6/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(7) Lionel Messi, Argentina Getty Lionel Messi World Cup Argentina Israel Friendlies The Albiceleste will not be playing their final World Cup warm-up game after the controversial match with Israel sparked protests Argentina’s controversial friendly against Israel has been suspended after threats towards Lionel Messi and waves of protests. Reports had surfaced in Argentina on Tuesday that the match would be called off, with Palestine’s Football Association celebrating the news. Palestinian FA chief Jibril Rajoub had helped spark the controversy with his claims that fans should burn Messi photos and shirts if the Argentina star faced Israel in Jerusalem. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Sorry, Cristiano! Pjanic is Juventus’ most important player right now And now the Israel embassy has confirmed the news, saying that civilians in the area are no strangers to the “threats and provocations” aimed at Barcelona star Messi.”The Israeli embassy is sad to announce the suspension of the match between the Israel and Argentina national teams scheduled for Saturday June 9, as a warm-up for the Russia World Cup,” the statement reads. “The threats and provocations directed at Lionel Messi, which logically aroused the solidarity of his colleagues and fear of playing the friendly, are no strangers to the daily life of Israel’s civilian population whose sporting stars, to put it simply, have been on numerous occasions the targets of violence and attacks.”The friendship between Argentina and Israel, which will soon celebrate its 70th anniversary, is not about a football match. The democratic country and plural state (composed of Jews, Muslims and Christians), will always eagerly await the chance to receive one of the stars of Argentine sport.”Argentina forward Gonzalo Higuain also backed the news, claiming that the well-being of the players must be the first priority. “I think that in the end the right thing was done,” he told ESPN. “It’s now behind us, obviously our health and common sense comes first. We think the right thing to do was not to go.”Argentina’s next match is now slated to be their World Cup Group D opener against Iceland on June 16, with Messi and his team-mates having only played one warm-up match – a 4-0 win over Haiti on May 30.That has undoubtedly disrupted Jorge Sampaoli’s preparation plans and it seems highly unlikely that a new friendly will be scheduled in time before the Argentina squad heads to Russia.last_img read more