HANS device debate rumbles on

The FIA, the sport's governing body, has stood firm on its decision to force drivers to wear the controversial HANS (head and neck safety) device despite two high profile retirements in the first two grands prix of the season which were directly related to the neck collar

HANS device debate rumbles on

British driver Justin Wilson was forced to pull out of the Malaysian Grand Prix after 41 laps and was admitted to hospital overnight after suffering temporary paralysis in his hands when the device came loose. Rubens Barrichello crashed out of the Australian Grand Prix claiming the pain the device caused made him lose concentration.

"The evidence for a HANS device significantly improving driver safety is overwhelming," said an FIA spokesman. "Such devices have been used in racing for over 10 years, approximately 3,000 devices are in use and in the past two years accidents of all types in American racing have validated its performance.

"Formula 1 teams have known since April 2001 that it was to be introduced and this should have allowed teams more than enough time for adequate testing of the system."

Some drivers, like David Coulthard, have designed adapted systems to aid them in comfort, but others such as Jacques Villeneuve, Nick Heidfeld and Barrichello have been outspoken in their criticism of the device claiming that it is uncomfortable and could cause a lapse of concentration.

Barrichello was given special dispensation not to wear the HANS during the Malaysian GP, but the FIA says this was a one-off and is adamant that the system must continue to be used.

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