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Formula 1 drivers 'very split' over head protection device

Formula 1 drivers remain "very split" on cockpit protection options following the decision to prioritise the 'shield' concept over the halo, according to Renault's Jolyon Palmer

The halo head protection device had been the subject of much debate during the 2016 season, amid expectations it would be introduced in 2018.

However, recent meetings for the Strategy Group and F1 Commission in Paris established the newly-presented shield as the preferred option instead.

Palmer says the decision has been a contentious one, with the grid split between backing either device or preferring no head protection at all.

"There's no group opinion of the drivers," Palmer said. "Some people seem to think there is, but there's not.

"It's very split, some people want nothing, some people think the shield is a good idea, some people still want the halo.

"There's no real consensus from the drivers, even if some people seem to think there is."

A vocal opponent of the halo last year, Palmer said the shield was "less offensive visually" but insisted he preferred the way things are at the moment.

"My views haven't changed, I think F1 is safe enough as it is," he said. "Honestly, I think drivers wouldn't be racing if they were worried for their own safety - everyone's still racing.

"Fernando's going to race in the Indy 500, which is way more dangerous than this - so it shows where he's at with it.

"I think it's unnecessary."

Drivers in favour of head protection have disagreed over whether the shield is better than the halo.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas dubbed the shield "a good step", with team-mate Lewis Hamilton agreeing it was "an improvement" and adding: "It looks better than the other options that have come so far."

Felipe Massa and Marcus Ericsson were proponents of the halo concept and think the shield is a step back.

"If you ask me what I prefer - the Shield looks nicer, it looks beautiful but it's a bit worse for the safety and for me the most important thing is the safety," said Massa.

Ericsson said he "didn't really feel any downside" to the halo when he sampled it on a car.

"As we all know, it gives by far the biggest protection for us drivers so I would still go for that one," he said.

"I know it's very mixed among the drivers and the people in Formula 1, what is the best way forward.

"I think we should go with the halo, because the halo is keeping it open-wheel.

"It's not the prettiest thing, but give it a bit of time and I think it will look all right."

Track testing of the new device is scheduled for later this season.

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