What is the halo?
It is a hoop attached to the car, in front of the steering wheel and on either side of the driver’s helmet. It has been visible on all single-seaters since 2018. Previously, Formula 1 cars were “naked” at the front. At the time, this new element had destabilized drivers and followers, some even going so far as to regret that the spirit of Formula 1 was damaged (see below).
A steel prototype was successfully tested in 2015: it withstood the impact of a 20 kg tire sent at 225 km / h by a cannon. At the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix, a Halo n ° 2, in titanium, lighter and more resistant, was tested. Wider, it improves the visibility of pilots. At the end of the 2016 season, all the riders were able to at least take one lap with this system.
Why was the halo made mandatory in 2018?
The halo comes from the need to protect the pilots’ heads, in addition to the traditional helmet. The idea came from a double accident in 2009: that, fatal, ofHenry surtees, killed by a tire in an F2 race; And the one of Felipe Massa in Formula 1, hit in the head by debris during the Hungarian GP. The accident of Justin wilson in Indycar in 2015 – killed by debris – ended up convincing the GPDA (Association of Pilots) to demand a protection system.
The Halo was offered to the stables in 2016. But there was a lot of resistance to its introduction. The test phases lasted two years, during which the manufacturers even proposed an alternative device, as the halo was not unanimous in the paddock. But it turned out to be disastrous, and for lack of anything else, it was the halo that was approved for the 2018 season.
Why has the halo been criticized, even denounced?
“Almost all the teams were against, the fans are against, the drivers mostly said no, and yet he will be there next season.” These are the words of Romain Grosjean – himself – in 2018, as president of the Drivers’ Association, a few weeks after the introduction of the halo in F1. Where does this enmity of the pilots for this device come from?
First, most feared for their visibility. The halo is prominent, and it takes root in the field of vision of pilots. “When I tested it in Brazil last year, I felt uncomfortable, had estimated Romain Grosjean. I was always trying to focus on something in front of me and there was this thing in the middle. ” But practice has generally reassured them on this point. “We just need to learn to drive with it, had estimated the French Esteban Ocon two years ago with Le Monde. This certainly has an impact on your visibility, (…) but the advantages in terms of security are important. I know some fans don’t like it, but I think they’ll get used to it pretty quickly. ”
The main criticism of the players in F1 ultimately comes from a fear of the “essence” of their sport. “The halo destroys the DNA of F1, declared the former champion Niki lauda. The risk for the pilots has become minimal “. The partly closed cockpit is thus experienced as a betrayal of the original spirit of the sport. “If you caré the wheels or if you cover the heads of the pilots, it is not F1 any more”, assures a team manager to the World in 2018.
Why do we think the halo probably saved Romain Grosjean’s life?
The investigation into Romain Grosjean’s accident has not yet taken place, and its results will shed all the light it will need on the circumstances and the elements that allowed the Frenchman to get away with minor injuries . But the first analyzes of images already reveal a number of things. Among other things, that the famous halo cut through the steel of the safety barrier … and thus avoided a potentially fatal shock to Grosjean.
“The extraction time of the car has been increased while a fire will always go at the same speed”, had deplored Romain Grosjean about the introduction of the halo on single-seaters. This Sunday, the extraction time was short enough for him, and the halo, perhaps, allowed him to avoid the drama.
In a video posted on the networks a few hours after the accident, the French pilot gave reassuring news, despite his hands entirely bandaged, and took the opportunity to thank the halo …