Felipe Massa thinks the Halo cockpit protection system is “a better solution” than the Aeroscreen concept trialled by Red Bull in Friday practice for the Russian Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo completed an installation lap around Sochi Autodrom with the latter device, which features a curved windscreen supported by two lateral struts. This makes Red Bull’s half-canopy design quite different to the Halo layout that Ferrari debuted in pre-season testing (see picture).
Massa is all too aware of the hazards faced by open-wheel drivers, having nearly succumbed to head injuries when he was stuck by a spring coming off another car at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Asked about his opinion on the latest attempt to enhance driver head protection, the Brazilian replied: “The Red Bull solution was not so nice, to be honest, I think the Ferrari solution was better. But I’m in favour of driver safety, so it’s important to find the best solution.”
Red Bull has been on Massa’s mind for other reasons this year, with Williams slipping behind the Milton Keynes-based outfit in the 2016 pecking order. Looking to turn the tide in Sochi, the F1 veteran was off to a challenging start when he suffered a lenghty clutch issue in FP1.
But Massa was able to shake off the initial delay to clock the fifth fastest time in the opening session before racking up 38 laps in a productive afternoon running.
“We sorted the problem I had in the morning, changed what had to be changed and the car worked perfectly in the afternoon. I think was a good day for us. The car feels competitive in the short and long runs, compared to red Bull.
“We need to analyse how we compare with Ferrari and Mercedes, which are not easy to be sure about, but I feel confident. The car feels OK, so maybe this can be a better track for us, compared to other tracks.”