Toro Rosso technical director James Key believes his team’s Halo looks “slightly more Formula 1” compared to previously tested versions thanks to aerodynamic fairings.
The FIA forced through the introduction of the cockpit protection device on safety grounds for the 2018 season, with final confirmation only coming in the middle of last year. While the Halo has been criticized from an aesthetic standpoint, Key says the freedom to add some small fairings and winglets to minimize the aerodynamic impact has helped improve the look to some degree.
“We’ll have to see how it goes,” Key told RACER about the visual impact of the Halo. “I think with the aero bits on it then it will look slightly more Formula 1, let’s say, than the frames we saw before. They will be a little bit more refined visually, because teams have had time to work a bit on optimizing the aerodynamics around them.
“But my gut feeling is it’s something we’ll just get used to. There will be talk and all sorts of opinions I’m sure – all of them no doubt valid – but I think ultimately it’s just something we’ll get used to, and we’ll get back to worrying about the racing pretty quickly.”
With Toro Rosso having passed all of its mandatory crash tests last week – meaning its car is homologated for pre-season testing – Key admits the addition of the Halo made the tests a bigger challenge this year.
“I think it was harder for two reasons, really,” he said. “One is that it is a new test and so there’s always some unknowns, there’s no historic reference you can take with something as new and very different as the Halo tests compared to before. And also because they’re quite tough tests, as well. Clearly this has to be a very robust frame around the driver, and that requires some quote heavy loading and tricky conditions applied to it to make sure it complies.
“It was certainly quite a new test and new set of requirements to take on board for chassis design, and obviously everyone’s a little nervous the first time you try it, but I’m glad to say it worked as planned.”