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.


Saudi Arabia women out to use bowling championship debut as springboard to success

Updated 1 min 32 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia women out to use bowling championship debut as springboard to success

  • Bowlers determined to use experience as a positive.
  • “It was an amazing experience" declares Mashael Abdulwahid.

LONDON: The Saudi Arabia women’s team have vowed they will only get better after their first appearance at the Arab Bowling Championship.
The team of four finished in fifth spot in the team event but are hopeful that the experience will prove to be a springboard to future success and greater participation of Saudi women.
The competition was won by the hosts Egypt, with Oman claiming silver and Bahrain the bronze. But even though they ended their first participation in the tournament out of medal contention, the team were happy with how it went and hopeful for the future.
“It was an amazing experience everyone was very supportive,” Mashael Abdulwahid, who has been playing since her childhood, said.
“I was overwhelmed on the first day because of the attendance of many high officials and many professional athletes. it was the first time to be in such an atmosphere but I got over it now.
“I learned a lot and will work on my mistakes to make it better next time.” 
Dana Alfaraj, the youngest team member said they never knew how good the other competitors are.
“We are happy we got this chance and happy the Saudi federation is very supportive. We will work hard to make our country proud, it’s a huge responsibility and we are up to it,” she said.