Australian Daniel Ricciardo tested a new Formula One head protection device on his car at the Russian Grand Prix on Friday, with opinions divided on its success.
The Red Bull driver went around the Sochi circuit with the ‘aeroscreen’ fitted to the cockpit for one lap before pitting to continue regular practice without it.
“The first impression seems OK,” Ricciardo had told reporters before driving with it on track for the first time. “It doesn’t really block any more vision than what we do have already.”
The reaction on social media was generally positive, with even champions Mercedes commenting on their Twitter feed that “it doesn’t look half bad”.
Mercedes’ triple world champion Lewis Hamilton was not a fan, however.
“If they’re going to do this, (then) close the cockpit like a fighter jet. That screen … looks like a shield that the police use, a riot shield,” he had told reporters when shown a picture of the device.
“You’ve got this cool, elegant, futuristic F1 car, and you’ve got a crappy riot shield sitting on top of it.”
“It is a good thing to see that the FIA do take safety seriously, it is a constant thing that always need to be worked on, as long as it doesn’t affect hopefully the aesthetics and style and coolness of F1,” added the Briton.
Hamilton added that danger was part of Formula One’s appeal and that drivers knew the risks that they were taking and were willing to do so.
Improving head protection has become a priority in Formula One, however, after the death last year of Frenchman Jules Bianchi.
Ricciardo said he was a firm believer in the need for a device like the ‘aeroscreen’.
“If it saves even one life over the next 20 years then you’re going to take it,” he said.