Formula One bosses promised fans the finalised 2018 Halo designs would look better than those tested over the last two years -- the early indications suggest they were correct.
F1's introduction of the Halo, a titanium structure wrapped in carbon fibre which sits above the drivers head, has been hugely controversial. Though intended to protect drivers from flying pieces of debris, the look of the device has been met with varying degrees of criticism in the paddock -- ahead of the 2017 finale in Abu Dhabi, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton said the race would be the last time F1 cars look good.
Motorsport's governing body, the FIA, expects the final designs to look better than the removable prototypes tested throughout 2016 and 2017. Though integrating the Halo onto 2018 designs has been problematic for teams, Toro Rosso technical chief James Key thinks F1 fans will quickly accept the device once racing begins again.
"We'll have to see how it goes," Key told Racer about the Halo. "I think with the aero bits on it then it will look slightly more Formula One, 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 optimising 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."
Halo is designed to reduce the risk of serious head injury and follows years of painstaking research by the FIA following two incidents in 2009 -- one which caused the death of Henry Surtees after being struck by a tyre in a Formula 2 race, the other leaving then-Ferrari driver Felipe Massa with life-threatening injuries after being hit by a loose coil during practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Halo was one of three cockpit protection concepts tested on F1 cars in the last two years, with devices known as the Aeroscreen and Shield also seen in practice sessions. However, when Sebastian Vettel's Shield test was cut short during practice for the British Grand Prix after complaints the device made him feel dizzy, Halo soon became the only viable option.