Mercedes chief would ‘take a chainsaw’ to Formula 1’s new halo

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff (C) said he would chop off Formula One’s new halo head-protection device with a chainsaw if he had his wish. (AFP)
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After years of research and development, the FIA settled on the halo to protect drivers from flying debris and crashes following fatal accidents. (AFP)
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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff (C) said he would chop off Formula One’s new halo head-protection device with a chainsaw if he had his wish. (AFP)
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After years of research and development, the FIA settled on the halo to protect drivers from flying debris and crashes following fatal accidents. (AFP)
Updated 22 February 2018
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Mercedes chief would ‘take a chainsaw’ to Formula 1’s new halo

SILVERSTONE, UK: Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said he would chop off Formula One’s new halo head-protection device with a chainsaw if he had his wish as the double world champions unveiled their new F1 car for the 2018 season.
After years of research and development, the FIA settled on the halo to protect drivers from flying debris and crashes following the fatal accidents of Jules Bianchi at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix and Justin Wilson in a 2015 IndyCar race.
“I’m not impressed with the whole thing and if you give me a chainsaw I would take it off,” said Wolff on Thursday, who complained about the weight of the new device.
“I think we need to look after the driver’s safety, but what we have implemented is aesthetically not appealing and we need to come up with a solution that simply looks better.”
Four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was less stinging in his criticism of the halo’s new look, but warned the extra weight of the device, designed to be able to resist the weight of a double-decker bus, could lead to less exciting racing.
“Honestly I think the team have done a great job to integrate it and make it look as nice as it can look,” said Hamilton.
“I hope they don’t get much heavier, but I think next year the seat and driver can be 80 kilos. I can be a bodybuilder next year and get the beach body I want.
“There are parts of the lighter, more nimble cars I miss. It was easier to overtake. The heavier they are they will always continue to get slower.”
Hamilton cruised to the title with two races to spare last season.
However, the final three races of the year were split between Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen in the Red Bull and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.
And Hamilton is expecting a closer run on his quest to match Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio as the second most successful Formula One driver of all-time.
“I think coming to the end of the year, the end of the season, Ferrari, Red Bull and us are very, very close,” he added.
“I anticipate this year will be probably quite similar in that sense. So I think we’ll see a tougher battle this year.”
Mercedes have won four drivers’ and constructors’ championships in a row, including the title Nico Rosberg won in 2016before retiring.
Wolff admitted that it might be better for overall interest in the sport for Mercedes not to match Ferrari’s record of five straight driver’s titles.
“If you look from the outside, does a long-term dominance of the team damage the spectacle? Yes it does,” said Wolff.
“A very competitive environment where multiple teams are able to win and where the championship goes down to the wire, these are clearly the ingredients (Formula One) needs.
“But that is not our objective. We try to optimize and we can’t from where we sit have an holistic approach to the global spectacle.”
In ominous news for the competition, Hamilton, 33, also looks set to extend his six-year stay at Mercedes with both driver and team hopeful of extending his current contract, which expires at the end of the year, before the season’s opening race in Australia on March 25.
“Toto knows that I know there is nowhere else, no one better, so he’s not going to be looking anywhere else, and he knows that I know there’s no one else better so I’m not looking anywhere else,” said Hamilton.
“The next couple of weeks would be a realistic target,” added Wolff.


Beach football tournament, key attraction during weekend of sport at NEOM

Updated 28 min 39 sec ago
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Beach football tournament, key attraction during weekend of sport at NEOM

  • The FIFA-approved football tournament will see international teams grapple for glory at the NEOM Beach Soccer Cup
  • The Wakeboard World Cup will also take place at NEOM during the weekend

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s mega city NEOM is hosting an international beach soccer tournament from July 17 to 20 on the lush white beaches of the Red Sea coast.

Running alongside the tournament will also be the 50th Wakeboard World Cup, rugby and tennis in the Gayal region in NEOM.

The FIFA-approved football tournament will see international teams grapple for glory at the NEOM Beach Soccer Cup.

Countries including China and England will compete against Arab teams from Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt in a purpose-built venue, according to a tweet on the official NEOM Twitter page.

This will be the second time a sports event has been held, the first being an extreme adventure sports tournament in April.

The official logo

“The reason we chose extreme adventure sports at the first event in NEOM was because it’s a beautiful environment,” said Jason Harborow, head of NEOM’s future of sport sector.

“Sport is right at the center of what we want to achieve at NEOM, and that means sport for all: male, female, children and athletes with disabilities. NEOM will be for everybody.”

NEOM is being marketed as a tourist destination designed to attract dreamers and elite minds from around the world.

The aim of the mega project is to attract new business and work as an incubator of future technologies, while also acting as a major economic power and a leading center for global investment.

”The team looks forward to the day when NEOM will host a wide range of bold sports to become a world center for sport enthusiasts, thrill seekers and an international sports center that embraces the world’s most important championships in all areas,” said Jason Harborow, head of future sports at NEOM.

The tournament is part of the ongoing effort to promote the sport sector in NEOM and business that comes with it, including encouraging major sporting events to the region.