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Nico Hulkenberg: Halo risks making F1 too sterile

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Nico Hulkenberg is among a small group of Formula One drivers who are against adopting the Halo cockpit protection system in 2017.

Halo made its public debut on Thursday at winter testing, with Kimi Raikkonen completing an installation lap with an early prototype fitted to his Ferrari. Many of the drivers support the push for more head protection, but Hulkenberg is against Halo or any form of closed cockpit in Formula One.

"Don't do it, I think it sends the wrong message," he said. "I think F1 is very safe at the moment as we are, and for me it looks horrible and I don't like it. It's just one of these personal things. I wouldn't like to see it.

"I think you can't sterilize the sport and there needs to be an element of danger as well. I think that's sexy and attractive and I think that's what Formula One needs.

"Back in the day it was a lot more so and in the last 20 years we have done a hell of a lot for safety. If you see the accidents that we have been having and you just walk away without even a scratch, I think that's pretty impressive. I think that there is a balance, but I feel pretty safe and we wouldn't have to do it."

Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat agrees that further safety measures will take some of the appeal away from F1.

"There are many controversial opinions about it. F1 was open cockpit racing," the Red Bull driver added. "It is more dangerous like this, but F1 is dangerous. Open cockpit racing is open cockpit racing; it would not be open cockpit racing any more. Racing is dangerous and I am able to accept that. That is my opinion."

The drive for more cockpit protection follows two high-profile deaths in motor sport last year as a result of head injuries. Jules Bianchi passed away as a result of injuries sustained at the Japanese Grand Prix and Justin Wilson died in an accident at Pocono Raceway in IndyCar.

Lotus rookie Jolyon Palmer believes the Halo design is better suited to IndyCar and F1 should think again before going ahead with it next year.

"The idea has obviously come from the Justin Wilson accident and I think that is more IndyCar specific because you have really high speeds, you are going around ovals and there is no run off," he said. "It's the same in Monaco, but in IndyCar you are doing much higher speeds and if you hit the wall all the debris comes back onto the track where the cars are doing much higher speeds than we achieve in Monaco.

"For IndyCar I've no doubt it's a good idea but maybe for F1 we should see how it works. We've got big run offs and that sort of incident is a lot less frequent anyway. Overall I think it can be positive, but I think we need to give it time to see how it works. Let's just see what happens, we need to give it more time and everybody needs to get a bit more used to the idea."

He added: "In Formula One I'm a bit of a traditionalist and I like an open cockpit. I think it's important for the fans because it's not like other sports where you can see the people, so at least you can see the helmet and see the driver working. I remember when I was young and sat in the crowd and you could see the guy's helmet and you thing 'Wow! There he is.' You are hiding the driver quite a lot and it's putting it more towards a sports car. The safety will be better definitely, but it's not going to stop a spring hitting the visor from what I could see. I'm sure in time it will look a lot more elegant, because it was an early adaptation."