According to McLaren’s chief aerodynamicist Peter Prodromou, there could be an aerodynamic advantage with the new Halo cockpit protection device. For the 2018 season, the Halo will be mandatory on all F1 cars. The sole purpose of the device is to offer extra head protection for drivers. Although the titanium structure will be standard on all cars, designers have some provisions to add a carbon fibre fairing.
The purpose of the fairings is to direct airflow to cooling ducts and aero-sensitive parts of the car. Prodromou says that the number 1 priority is to minimise lost performance, and it will open up new avenues of aerodynamic development.
He said, “Aero wise it’s certainly not penalty free. There certainly is a challenge there to either cope with it in the first instance — let’s call it damage limitation — and thereafter look at opportunity and exploitation. It does open up some avenues that are possibly interesting to look at. I’m sure there is going to be quite a variety of different solutions out there. The scope is quite limited, we’ve got this allowance around the basic shape, but there is opportunity there as an aerodynamicist.”
“Everyone is going to be faced with challenges of how it affects the flow [of air] into the engine, how it affects flow into certain cooling ducts that people had in that area, including ourselves, and how it affects the flow to the rear wing. But also on the flip side there are opportunities there and we can maybe try and tap into them where you couldn’t before.”
However, he does not believe that it will be a major factor in terms of performance. Instead, he predicted that most teams will end up with similar designs as the season progresses. Prodromou said, “I’d probably give it half a season and one would imagine everyone would have converged. That would be my rough guess.”
Will Prodromou’s prediction of an aerodynamic advantage with the Halo come good?