New design for a drivers’ protective shield looks to be aimed at form more than function.
As first reported by motorsport outlet Autosport, the new canopy-style design was shown to drivers in a briefing ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.
The outlet’s technical editor Giorgio Piola created an artist’s impression (pictured) of the design, which appears to be more focused on deflecting small debris from in front than large debris from above.
Autosport quotes Felipe Massa as calling the design good-looking, though he would prefer a safety-focused design.
"It's beautiful compared to the halo, but I don't think we need to go for how beautiful it is, but how better it is for the safety,” Massa said. “That's the only answer we gave to them.”
After Massa’s encounter with a spring during the Hungarian GP in 2009, he’d be the first person you’d want to ask about any new cockpit protection.
Last year, Red Bull debuted a similar-but-taller design for a shield protection barrier, which it called an ‘aeroscreen’.
Australia’s own Dan Ricciardo drove a car with the aeroscreen fitted, saying his first fang with the new design was promising.
“It was different, not having the wind rolling on me and the engine sound was different as well,” Ricciardo said after his test last year. “The visibility was pretty good, so first impressions were fine, it was driveable.”
Despite his prise of the new system, ESPN reported rival Lewis Hamilton as having called the screen “like a bloody riot shield”, and calling for a fully-enclosed cabin if design changes were to take place.