Halo raises hackles as Mercedes present their new 'diva'
SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) - Formula One champions Mercedes launched their 2018 car on Thursday with team boss Toto Wolff hoping it proved less temperamental than the last one and admitting he would like to attack it with a chainsaw.
The Austrian, whose team have won the last four championships and are favorites for a fifth with Lewis Hamilton, is no fan of the mandatory new 'halo' head protection device.
"I'm not impressed with the whole (halo) thing," Wolff told reporters at a chilly Silverstone circuit after Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas had given the silver W09 its track debut.
"And if you give me a chainsaw, I would take it off."
Wolff, whose team were early supporters of the halo concept, said driver safety was always a key consideration but there needed to be a better solution than what was currently available.
"What we have implemented is aesthetically not appealing and we need to really tackle that and come up with a solution that simply looks better," he added.
"It’s a massive weight on top of the car, you screw up the center of gravity massively with that thing."
Four-times world champion Hamilton was less fussed, telling reporters he expected everyone to get used to it after a few races.
"Honestly, I think the team have done a great job to integrate it and make it look as nice as it can look," said the Briton.
"This is in the world right now and I’m sure it’s only the first step in the evolution of this safety level. But it is heavy. The cars are getting heavier. It’s a big car but streamlined as much as it can be."
He hoped also that Mercedes had "ironed out some of the creases" from last year with a narrower and more tightly packaged car, whose official F1 W09 EQ Power+ name is already quite a mouthful.
Last year's car won 12 of the 20 races, with Ferrari triumphant five times and Red Bull three, but was swiftly declared to be a 'diva' because of its nature.
"We hope that we keep the good character traits of the diva, we all like divas," said Wolff.
"But sometimes she was a bit difficult to understand and this is the area where we worked the most, trying to understand and preserve what we have in terms of speed in the car and equally find more driveability.
"We have tried like in the past years to stay true to our design philosophy, continue to develop what was already a solid base."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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