Daniel Ricciardo gave Formula One’s latest cockpit protection system his support Friday after testing Red Bull’s ‘areoscreen’ device in opening pratice for this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.
The Australian driver had the protective screen fitted to his car for an installation lap at the start of the session and ran without mishap.
“In all honesty, the vision is fine,” he said. “That seemed OK, so the first impressions were fine. It was definitely driveable.
“Obviously, where we have the structure in place, it is pretty much where the mirrors are so I would not say you are hindered any more than we are now through visibility.
“And it is obviously a bit different having that in front of you, but generally, it was as good as it could have gone today.”
The Red Bull-designed screen has been created as an alternative to Ferrari’s ‘halo’ protective device and most observers said it was more attractive.
Others, including defending three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, believe Formula One should stick to its tradition and remain with ‘open cockpit and open wheel’ racing.
Ricciardo said: “The talk has been about the open cockpit and that is what people know F1 for — and that is fair enough.
“It would be great to keep it that way, but obviously with accidents that have happened, especially more recently, I think that not to explore this route seems a bit disrespectful, I would say.
“If this becomes a norm, I think everyone will get used to it. I don’t think it is as bad as some people are saying. I think it could happen quite easily.”
He added that it felt quite different to drive in the more heavily protected cockpit.
“It was a little bit different not having the wind on you, so the engine and everything sounded different. You don’t have the interference with the wind.”
Red Bull plan to continue testing the screen at other circuits and in different conditions, including racing at night under floodlights.
Hamilton said he did not see it on Friday and remained unconvinced that it should be brought into F1. On Thursday, he said it looked like a riot shield.
But other drivers had divided views on the device, with Briton Jenson Button saying it looked better than most existing F1 cars.
Ricciardo’s team-mate Daniil Kyvat said: “I’m a bit 50-50 about it. Of the options which we saw, generally it’s the best looking for sure, in terms of head protection.
“We’ll have to see if the fans will accept it or not, I think that’s very important nowadays — that we don’t take away too much from the old-fashioned look.
“If people can live with that it’s fine, but we have to do a lot of analysis, which is not up to me.”