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F1 drivers split on Shield cockpit protection device

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Is the FIA right to pursue 'Shield' protection? (2:41)

Formula One's Strategy Group has decided the future of cockpit protection doesn't lie with the Halo, but is that the right call? (2:41)

Formula One's drivers are split on the Shield cockpit protection device the FIA is hoping to introduce for the 2018 season.

This week the decision-making Strategy Group agreed to ditch its work on the Halo in order to prioritise the testing of a new concept, known as Shield. The new design is a compromise solution not dissimilar to the Aeorscreen tested by Red Bull in 2016 and features a see-through screen which covers the front of the cockpit but leaves most of the driver's head visible.

The push for cockpit protection has gained momentum since Justin Wilson was killed by a flying piece of debris during a 2015 IndyCar race.

The FIA hopes to have some form of cockpit protection on the car from next year and plans to test the Shield throughout this season in preparation for implementation.

One of the major criticisms of the Halo device was the way it looked on a car but Williams' Felipe Massa, who was nearly killed in 2009 when struck by a loose spring during qualifying in Hungary, says safety should be the only concern.

"The Shield looks nice," he said. "For sure the fans would prefer the Shield, I prefer it when I look at the car [compared to Halo]. But we're talking about safety. That for me is the most important thing. If an accident happens and we lose a friend or me or whoever because it was not safe enough, that is not nice.

"I'm not saying I'm not in favour [of Shield], I am in favour of improving the safety. Maybe in one year or two years the Shield can be much closer than the Halo. I don't know. Anyway, I am in favourr of improving safety, not only in Formula One but also in other categories. If you see what happened in Formula 4 [with Billy Monger's accident], Formula One is a good example to improve the safety of other categories. They always look more to Formula One so we need to keep also seeing what's happened to try and improve other categories as well."

Max Verstappen thinks Formula One should remain open cockpit and says it would not eliminate every risk of a driver being injured or killed by a flying piece of debris or tyre.

"Formula One is open cockpit racing. And there are always risks in every sport, it's always part of it. Of course there are some very unlucky accidents that happened in the past but you cannot control it and the shield will not make a difference in that as well.

"You know when the tyre lands [on your head], the Shield will not protect you. I also I don't really like it, it doesn't look very cool, and I remember Formula One like they are now, they were just open. That's why I enjoy driving, and when you look at those proposals it doesn't look very good so I wouldn't enjoy driving it."

Lewis Hamilton was originally an outspoken critic of the Halo -- calling it "the worst modification in Formula One history" when it was unveiled in Spain last year. He later changed his mind on the concept after seeing an FIA presentation on the safety benefits of it.

The three-time world champion thinks the Shield is the best-looking option the FIA has put forward so far.

"The Halo did not look great but it was an improvement but not the best improvement and I quite like the new design, the Shield, I think it is pretty cool. It is definitely better than all the options that have come to light so far. Whether or not they can make it work we shall see."

Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas said: "I don't mind the Shield. I think it looks quite OK and I think it's a good step compared to the Halo. That's my personal opinion on how it looks, so I don't mind that. The safety aspect is always important and it's always important to keep things improving and developing and safety always needs to be improved, so I wouldn't mind trying out the Shield and seeing how the visibility is and if there are any other issues with that. But I think in terms of safety it would be a good step to convert from what we have now."

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, a long-time opponent of cockpit protection, thinks the Shield will create more complications for wet races.

"We've seen some pictures. I'm not for it, I don't think we need something like that. It's going to be difficult, especially in the wet with a screen -- even without a screen in the wet it's difficult to see anything. So I'm sure with that as well it's going to be impossible and more dangerous in wet conditions."

He then added: "I like it how it is [with no cockpit protection]."

Esteban Ocon says his experience in DTM -- German touring cars -- showed there are ways to stop a screen being a safety hazard in wet weather.

"That's the unknown, to be honest. I drove DTM in the rain... If you have a heated screen, like they have in the road cars, a heat resistance inside the screen that you don't see when it's dry, it could be fine. They have this in fighter jets so I don't see why we can't have it."

Ocon's Force India teammate Sergio Perez thinks the current plans for the Shield are good and can be improved further with some testing.

"It looks better, but it's also safe. It's probably not at the level of Halo in terms of safety, but there's a lot of improvement that the FIA thinks can be done. It's a matter of how much process they can and development they can do."