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Formula One driver Pierre Gasly expects to be ripping through race-suits this season after complaining that the sport’s new halo head-protection device had torn holes in his overalls as he got in-and-out of the car.
The 22-year-old Frenchman, starting his first full season with Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso, expressed his frustration after completing 82 laps of a cold Circuit de Catalunya on the second day of pre-season testing.
“I don’t like it (the halo). It’s just a big mess to get in the car and get out,” he said. “I think my suit is already broken. We’ll have to ask for many suits from supplier Alpine Stars this season.
“It’s only the first day in the car and I have many holes on the back. You need to be a lot backward to slide into the car. It’s actually quite weird.
“With all the winglets you have on the halo you cannot really pull, to get out you cannot really touch it.”
The halo, which extends up from a central pillar to circle the driver’s head, is designed to protect against flying objects and is making its debut this season as a mandatory safety addition.
Getting in and out, particularly for taller drivers, is more awkward than when cockpits were completely open. There are also concerns that in the rare cases of a car flipping over or being set on fire, that drivers may find it impossible to pull themselves out without external help.
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen also spoke of his reservations about the new device. He said: “It’s very annoying. Ugly. Difficult to get into the car, difficult to get out of the car, difficult to get the steering wheel on and off, just awkward and annoying.”
Though he ruled out any problem seeing start lights, Magnussen suggested there were some types of corner where the device could prove a distraction, such as high elevation turns like Eau Rouge at Spa, Belgium and Turn 1 in US track in Texas.
“Once you get into the corner it’s fine because you look to the sides and left and right of the pillar in the middle so it’s not a problem visually to see the corner, but it distracts your eye obviously when you change direction like chicanes and you have to move your vision across the pillar,” he explained.