ABU DHABI -- Lewis Hamilton believes this season's final race represents the end of an era for Formula One before the look of its cars goes "downhill" with the introduction of the Halo and cockpit protection.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be the last F1 race to feature an exposed cockpit for the foreseeable future, with the FIA agreeing to implement the controversial Halo device on next year's cars. Halo has massively divided opinion of fans and drivers, with its most vocal critics unhappy with how the prototypes tested so far have looked on the cars.
Though the FIA has said the final designs are likely to look different, with teams given leeway to design the fairings of their own device, newly-crowned world champion Hamilton is not expecting a massive change.
"It's the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It's the last race where the cars will look good," Hamilton said when asked about Halo ahead of this weekend's race. "I think next year, it's all downhill from there in terms of how they look. But safety will go up at least and may be it could be successful in some way."
Though originally a firm opponent of the idea of introducing Halo, Hamilton's opinion changed when the FIA showed drivers a presentation highlighting how the device would lower the risk of fatality caused by flying pieces of debris.
The implementation of the device is the next step in the FIA's push for cockpit protection. Since the introduced of Halo during 2016's pre-season, motorsport's governing body has tested various cockpit protection devices -- which have included canopy-style devices known as Aeroscreen and Shield. The FIA remained unconvinced by the latter two designs, prompting it to turn to the Halo for the 2018 season. The device will also be on the cars of F1's main feeder series, Formula 2, next year.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, one of the biggest advocates of improving safety levels in F1, believes fans will get used to looking at cars with Halos over time.
"They are probably right as the cars will look different next year, everything I've seen so far looks different but on the other hand it is something we all get used to but no doubt the cars look better now but we'll get used to it and we'll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal."