Incorporating the Halo onto its car was “a big challenge” for Force India after starting its 2018 design early, chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer admits.
The FIA forced through the Halo on safety grounds in late July last year, with the cockpit protection device becoming a mandatory addition for the 2018 season. The Halo has to withstand significant loads as part of a new crash test, and Szafnauer admits it has been the area of main focus for his team during the off-season.
“The biggest thing over the winter for us was trying to incorporate the Halo into the car design because it was introduced so late,” Szafnauer told RACER. “Which for a team of our size makes it even more difficult to redesign and not start afresh but make massive changes to the design that we’d gotten on with already to incorporate the Halo.
“We did [find it a big challenge]. It weighs quite a bit so we had a big challenge in keeping the weight down but also making the Halo robust enough to take all the prescribed loads, which are not insignificant.
“We’ve completed them all [the crash tests]. We’re right on schedule actually and the nice thing is we passed the first time. So had we not then that could have been troublesome.”
With the crash tests out of the way, while Szafnauer is happy with Force India’s development rate he is wary of overestimating how well the team is doing without knowing the progress made by its rivals.
“Car development continues at a rapid pace but that’s a relative proposition. You don’t know how well you’re developing unless you can compare yourselves to the competition. Hopefully we’re still developing at the same rate as everybody else and that will mean that when we do start running the car we’ll be competitive out of the blocks. But that’s really hard to tell, to know what others have done over the winter.”
Force India is expected to launch its new car in Barcelona ahead of the first pre-season test – taking place from February 26 until March 1 – while a new team name could also be unveiled at the same time.