Force India sign Havaianas as Halo sponsor

Force India have followed McLaren’s lead by signing a flip-flop brand, Havaianas, to sponsor their Halo.

With many fans pointing out that Halo looks a lot like a flip-flop, Formula 1 teams are seeing this as an opportunity to land additional sponsorship.

McLaren were the first and now Force India have jumped onboard.

“We are delighted to bring Havaianas into Formula One,” said COO Otmar Szafnauer. “Where better than the Halo to carry the famous Havaianas logo?

“It’s a savvy move by this loved Brazilian brand, which will bring a touch of the beach to the paddock throughout the season.

“We have always been an adventurous team with our marketing efforts, and after introducing the pink livery in 2017 we hope this partnership will appeal to all fun-loving Formula One fans in 2018.”

Márcio Utsch, CEO of Alpargatas, the makers of Havaianas, added: “This is huge news for Havaianas. We want to bring our fun and cool vibe to Formula One and the opportunity presented by Force India really grabbed our attention.

“At Havaianas, we pride ourselves on listening to the fans of our brand and over the last few months we have seen more and more people associating our flips-flops with the new halo across social media.

“Together with Force India we have come up with an eye-catching design on the car’s halo, which was the logical place to locate our flip-flop strap. We are looking forward to engaging with Formula One fans at races around the world throughout the year, so stay tuned for some exciting developments.”

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Whiting downplays driver confusion with Halo

Charlie Whiting says fans will definitely know who is behind each Halo, they just need to look at the car numbers, helmets and cameras.

Kevin Magnussen recently raised concerns that fans won’t be able to tell the drivers apart given that Halo is now partially blocking their view.

“When the whole field is going into the first corner you’re not going to have a clue who is who,” said the Haas driver.

However, F1 race director Whiting doesn’t agree with the Dane’s worries as fans can look at the camera colours, the drivers’ helmets and also the more prodominant car numbers.

“I’ve always personally felt it’s much easier to try and look at the colour of the on-board cameras,” he said.

“Max (Verstappen) and Daniel (Ricciardo), for example, don’t look dissimilar [with crash helmets on].

“Last year it was much easier with those two cars because the numbers were very prominent, which they weren’t until last year. That actually worked quite well.

“We’ve made sure that all the numbers on the cars are in exactly the same places and the cameras will be black for the first car and all yellow for the second car.

“I’m fairly convinced that fans won’t need to resort to try and identify drivers helmet colours to know who’s in the car.”

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Magnussen: No clue who is behind the Halo

Halo and its arrival are set in stone, however, that hasn’t stopped Kevin Magnussen from voicing his displeasure over the cockpit protection device.

The Haas driver has been one of the more vocal critics of Halo; against the look of it, the weight of it and even saying “too safe to be exciting.”

Now he’s worried that fans won’t know who is the car.

“There’s definitely a problem in recognising the driver,” he told Autosport.

“I went on track as well, I’ve been watching Formula 1 my whole life, and I couldn’t tell who was driving.

“That’s not great. It’s going to be the same on television.

“When the whole field is going into the first corner you’re not going to have a clue who is who.”

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Todt surprised by ‘short memories’ over Halo

As the criticism over Halo continues, Jean Todt says he's surprised by it all given that the drivers asked the FIA for head protection.

This season Formula 1 will race Halo after the FIA declared it compulsory.

Many of the drivers aren't happy, saying that it is ugly and goes against the DNA of Formula 1.

Todt, however, says they were the ones that wanted it.

"It is short memories… I was trying to remember how it came [about] and it was a completely legitimate request from the drivers," said the FIA president.

"16 December 2015, I got a letter that was signed by [GPDA directors] Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Alex Wurz, urging us to decide for head protection for the drivers. And I said, 'We are there, also to listen.'

"So immediately we asked the technical people as a priority to see what they could come out with. 

"On July 27, 2016 they [the drivers] knew a meeting was going to happen, they said: 'Don't be weak. Please respect what we have asked you on safety.' So we committed to taking their request into consideration because it's a fair request. And here came the Halo.

"I must say I am so surprised, and you know I love F1 but I hate this part of F1. You have people who don't [keep] their word. For me we are talking about the biggest asset in life: it is loyalty and [keeping] a word and having respect of what you have been undertaking.

"So we have respected that and some have forgotten that, but that is where we are."

The Frenchmad added that he expected more support for Halo given that it could save a life.

"For me, the Halo is no problem and I would have hoped we would have had more support from everybody – the fans, the media – for something which is for safety. I mean, I'm amazed to hear some people say, 'OK motor racing has to be dangerous, if [the worst] happens, it happens.'

"If we can avoid that, why should we not protect a life? 

"Because we're not only talking about Formula 1. In Formula E I did not hear one complaint, incidentally. Everybody is happy and saying, 'Look what we're going to do about it.' I didn't hear any complaints in Formula 2, I didn't hear any complaints in Formula 3."

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Vettel: Halo safety outweighs aesthetics

Relishing his high speed career, Sebastian Vettel says he welcomes Halo as safety outweighs aesthetics.

As Formula 1 continues to test with the Halo ahead of the new season, several drivers have spoken of their dislike of the cockpit protection device.

For most it is the look of it that they find extremely unappealing.

However, Vettel reckons if it saves a life, it’s worth it.

“I still love to drive at the limit with the world’s fastest cars. And in a Ferrari,” he said.

“The Halo may not look so good, but the safety aspect weighs more.

“If someone’s life can be saved by Halo, it has already proven itself.”

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‘Ugly Halo could cause problems at Eau Rouge’

Apparently it is not just the asthetic of Halo that has Kevin Magnussen up in arms, he’s also unhappy with getting in and out of the car, chicanes and Eau Rouge.

Last week the Haas driver tested with Halo as Formula 1 prepared for the 2018 season, the first with the cockpit protection device.

“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,” he told Autosport.

Added to that, the Dane reckons Halo will be a slight distraction for some corners, especially chicanes.

“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,” he continued.

“But it distracts your eye obviously when you change direction like chicanes and you have to move your vision across the pillar.

“It’s a little bit distracting but it isn’t any concern as such.”

However, it is Spa’s Eau Rouge where he says it could really cause problems.

“If you’re chasing someone in Eau Rouge you won’t be able to see if he makes a mistake at the top and spins if you’re down the middle part,” he said.

“You won’t know if he’s in the wall or not.

“I guess the same at Austin Turn 1 where there’s big elevation, but we’ll see.”

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Halo made a ‘big mess’ of Gasly’s suit

Pierre Gasly’s opinion of Halo was sorely dented when the cockpit protection device ripped his race-suit during testing.

Climbing in and out of the STR13 during Tuesday’s running at the Circuit de Catalunya, the Toro Rosso was left with a holey suit.

He wasn’t impressed, and blames Halo.

“I don’t like it, it’s a big mess to get in the car and get out,” he said.

“I think my suit is already broken, so we’ll have to ask for many suits from Alpine Stars this year.

“Already, it’s only the first day and I have many holes on the back.

“You need to be a lot backwards, to slide in the car. It’s actually quite weird.

“And with all the winglets you have on the Halo, you cannot really pull to get out and touch it.

“It’s quite weird conditions, but nothing really important. I just prefer the old cars.”

But while getting in is a problem, once in and driving, Gasly says having Halo hardly little difference for the driver.

“To drive with it, it doesn’t make a big difference,” he said.

“In terms of visibility, it’s the same.

“Of course you see something on top of you, which is a bit weird, but when you start to drive you focus, you’re just paying attention to your driving and you don’t really see it.

“But to get in the car and get out is quite a big challenge.”

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