SOCHI, Russia: Veteran Formula One star Felipe Massa on Thursday hit out at plans to build a protective shield into cockpits saying it’s the worst choice for safety.
F1 chiefs are weighing up the merits of installing a “shield” or “halo” on the front of cars for next year.
Many believe that the halo has superior safety qualities, but is less aesthetic than the shield.
Williams driver Massa, who suffered a serious head injury when he crashed in his Ferrari at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, says the shield choice would be the wrong decision.
“If you ask me what I prefer, the shield looks nicer,” said Massa, speaking to reporters in Sochi ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.
“It looks beautiful, but it’s a bit worse for the safety. And for me the most important thing is the safety.”
The debate was sparked following a recent meeting of the F1 Strategy Group and the F1 Commission, which chose the shield as the best option to pursue and develop.
His former teammate and now Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas said he felt the shield was “a good step” ahead of the halo while three-time champion Lewis Hamilton agreed and said it was “better than the other options that have come so far.”
Marcus Ericsson of Sauber supported the halo and said: “I still believe the halo is the best solution because I feel, when I tried it, I didn’t really feel any downside to having it.
“As we all know, it gives by far the biggest protection for us drivers so I would still go for that one — but I know it’s very mixed among the drivers and the people in Formula One.
“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.”