By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Let’s face it, we all have mixed opinions about the Halo in Formula 1.
Some understand it’s for the sake of safety, and the drivers wanted something to be done for head protection after notable incidents that’s ended seasons, and even a driver’s life. Others utterly despise the new look, and wish there was a different approach of protecting a driver, like the canopy NHRA Top Fuel drivers use.
After opening day of free practice for the Rolex Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne, I saw a visual problem that came into fruition. Not much about the driver’s saying how the Halo has caused a challenge on how to start a race or avoiding slow cars as seen by Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen in FP2. My problem is the Halos have ruined a once beautiful visual that was in-car cameras in F1.
Pending on the shot, it’s either semi-bearable like Hamilton’s left-side camera where you can see his full helmet just fine because its a wide shot. However, the Halo has denied viewers of the pageantry that was overtaking.
Even worse when it’s a closeup, like Max Verstappen’s and Fernando Alonso’s camera shot, it looked atrocious. At least we can see some decent overtakes from those angles, but it’s going to be an eye sore long-term.
Another shot that’s been hindered was the traditional top camera F1 has used on a regular basis since 1995. Unlike the driver-side camera, you had a decent visual of the action. At the same time, we’re being robbed from watching the driver’s up close and personal.
All we see is a big ring in front of our eyes, and we have to put up with this issue.
As if people have already complained about the Halo being the worst thing to have happened in the sport, those shots didn’t just give viewers another reason to despise the new look. It validated my feelings about certain shots and angles have to be plotted out in advanced. Not just in F1, but any motorsports telecast.
As a journalist with a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media, the Halo has created a new challenge that has to be in Liberty Media’s – and at the slightest – FIA’s priority. Even the Sky Sports’ commentary team have taken some shots on the onboards, like Martin Brundle focusing on the negatives like I alluded to.
Everyone has an opinion about the Halo, and already people want change. Speaking of change, why didn’t they do something in the off-season with the cameras to accommodate the Halo?
An argument will be made that onboard cameras are only permitted in certain areas of the car to prevent any competitive advantage. That’s why you may have noticed that all cars have designated pods, to prevent such a thing from happening.
It’s going to be difficult, but sooner than later, they’ll have to plot new angles to make onboards aesthetically pleasing.
The old school onboards, when driver-side cameras was the dominant shot, which Ayrton Senna made famous, those shots were predominately tight, but you can still see what lies ahead. The saving grace is the camera pod being lower instead of being risen where a Halo can block the full action. On the contrary, the shot may block the head movement, but at least we can see the a nice visual.
Around the same time period, Michael Schumacher and Jean Alesi’s camera shots come to mind. The shot was wide and how it’s positioned, the Halo wouldn’t be as distracting. Sure, you had an antenna because TV technology was still evolving and had to deal with static shots when they blast through tunnels, but viewers had a bright idea what they’re seeing.
Those popular shots that made F1’s presentation panache, I hate to say may become a thing of the past, and it’s probably time to figure out a solution to appease the television audience.
Remember when they used to have a rear-view camera mounted on the side, such as Alesi’s in the 1994 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka?
If you recall, the race was plagued by wet conditions all day, but witnessed an incredible battle between he and Nigel Mansell. There’s a shot from Alesi, where you’ll see Mansell making his move at the backstretch. An underrated shot that’s hardly been used. Now if the sport incorporated that onboard, fans can have an alternative shot where fans can still relish proper overtaking without throwing a fit.
For now, the best shots for overtaking may be the wing-cam and once we see it utilized, the 360-degree camera on top of the chassis. The current shots we got now, overtaking as we know it in front our screens is a thing of the past.
While we can’t do anything about the Halo, at least we can have say on the presentation that’s being taken away from us.
Wishful thinking, but I’d like to see them try new things where competitive advantage isn’t a concern.
What makes F1 unique compared to other sports is technology. Television presentation is part of that spectrum, and what made me a fan of the sport when I was young.
Right now, the presentation from an onboard perspective, looks awful and come race day, the negatives will continue to grow on social media.
Video: ESPN via gamblour