SAFETY HALO: Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen tested a safety halo device during a pre-season testing lap in Barcelona, Spain. Image: AP / Manu Fernandez
Barcelona, Spain -The introduction of a new cockpit safety device intended to prevent more driver fatalities was met with a mixed reception after the "Halo" concept was tried on track by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen on Thursday.
Demands to increase driver safety have intensified following the deaths of Jules Bianchi and IndyCar driver Justin Wilson in 2015.
Room for improvement
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg hailed the device as a "massive safety improvement".
However, the father of former Formula 1 driver Bianchi, who died after colliding with a recovery vehicle at the Japanese Grand Prix in 2014, claimed the new measures don't go far enough.
"This is a step forward, but it does not solve everything," Philippe Bianchi told Canal Plus. "In the case of Jules it would not have changed since it was the extremely violent deceleration that we know caused the damage to his brain.
"The version of this Halo system I saw this morning did not convince me and still needs to be improved."
Raikkonen used the three-pointed carbon structure on his installation lap on the third day of the second pre-season test in Barcelona before going on to set the fastest time of the winter once it was removed.
Halo for 2017
The Halo won't be used for the upcoming season which starts at the Australian GP on March 20, but a meeting of the F1 Commission last week approved measures aimed at introducing it for the 2017 season.
However, Rosberg was the most demonstrative voice urging for the Halo to be passed into the sport's laws.
"My opinion is that it represents a big step forward in terms of safety," said the German. "Following the fatalities we have experienced in recent years in racing that halo would have saved lives, so we absolutely need it."
However, the Halo's aesthetic appearance as well as its ability to protect drivers was criticised.
"That looks even worse than I feared, in several respects," former F1 driver and pundit Martin Brundle tweeted.
Ferrari, though, insisted the final version of the prototype would be more visually pleasing.
"This is a provisional structure made by Ferrari to test visibility," a Ferrari spokesperson told Sky Sports. "We think the final structure would be part of the car and hopefully will look better. Kimi said it was 'okay' in terms of visibility."