Formula One: Massa hits out at 'shield' cockpit plan

Veteran Formula One star Felipe Massa on Thursday hit out at plans to build a protective shield into cockpits saying it's the worst choice for safety.

F1 chiefs are weighing up the merits of installing a "shield" or "halo" on the front of cars for next year.

Many believe that the halo has superior safety qualities, but is less aesthetic than the shield.

Williams driver Massa, who suffered a serious head injury when he crashed in his Ferrari at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, says the shield choice would be the wrong decision.

"If you ask me what I prefer, the shield looks nicer," said Massa, speaking to reporters in Sochi ahead of this weekend's Russian Grand Prix.

"It looks beautiful, but it's a bit worse for the safety. And for me the most important thing is the safety."

The debate was sparked following a recent meeting of the F1 Strategy Group and the F1 Commission, which chose the shield as the best option to pursue and develop.

His former team-mate and now Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas said he felt the shield was "a good step" ahead of the halo while three-time champion Lewis Hamilton agreed and said it was "better than the other options that have come so far."

Marcus Ericsson of Sauber supported the halo and said: "I still believe the halo is the best solution because I feel, when I tried it, I didn't really feel any downside to having it.

"As we all know, it gives by far the biggest protection for us drivers so I would still go for that one -- but I know it's very mixed among the drivers and the people in Formula One.

"I think we should go with the halo because the halo is keeping it open-wheel. It's not the prettiest thing, but give it a bit of time and I think it will look all right."