The introduction of the Halo for 2018 just a couple of months after the FIA said it was dropping the idea came as a surprise to many.
Some of the smaller teams have been concerned about it’s rushed introduction, saying that it could mean significant delays if their design fails the mandatory structural tests.
Now teams are getting even more annoyed because the FIA hasn’t indicated exactly what the tests will be. No, really.
The problem is that teams can’t use the actual Halo to test the impact on the chassis because of the way it’s designed, and the FIA has yet to come up with an alternative.
Therefore if the teams can’t build a chassis strong enough to cope with the forces imparted on it by the Halo, they’ll have to do a complete redesign of the monocoque.
That’s not too bad for some of the larger teams with huge amounts of resources. But for smaller teams, having to redesign such an important part of the car could mean enormous delays.
Force India technical director Andy Green explained the problem:
“The actual Halo that we’re going to run has been defined, but the actual chassis that it bolts to hasn’t. To try to get a chassis to cope with the sign-off loads that the FIA have imposed is a challenge.
“The Halo that we’re going to race can’t withstand those loads, so there’s no point in using it to do the load tests on the chassis, because the Halo will fail first. So you have to do it with something else, and that’s what we’re trying to define at the moment.
“Depending on what that something else is will change how you design the chassis, and how strong you need to make the chassis, because it delivers the load in a different way, depending on the geometry. At the moment we’re missing the details on that device, and it’s quite fundamental to the design of the chassis. If you fail the test, you can’t run.”
Teams have been working with the FIA to find a solution as quick as possible but time is tight.
One idea put forward by the FIA is to simulate the loads through computer models rather than physical testing for this year only, with an improved process being put in place for 2019.
So basically they’re planning to rush through safety testing of a device intended to improve the safety of the sport. You couldn’t make this stuff up.