Halo (safety device)
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The halo is a driver crash protection system used in open-wheel racing series which consists of a curved bar placed to protect the driver's head.
The system was introduced in 2015 and became mandatory according to FIA homologation and regulation from 2018. The first tests with the prototypes equipped with the system were carried out in 2016 and in July 2017. Since the 2018 season the FIA has made the halo mandatory on every vehicle in Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula 3 as a new safety measure.
The system consists of a bracket that surrounds the driver's head and is connected at three points to the vehicle frame. The component is made of titanium and weighed around 7 kilograms in the version presented in 2016. The weight rose to 9 kilograms in 2017.
The system is not developed by the teams, but is manufactured by three approved external manufacturers chosen by the FIA and is the same specification for all vehicles.
In a simulation performed by the FIA, using the data of 40 real incidents, the use of the system led to a 17% theoretical increase in the survival rate of the driver.
History and development
The FIA for development examined three fundamental scenarios — collision between two vehicles, contact between a vehicle and the surrounding environment (such as barriers) and collisions with vehicles and debris. Tests have shown that the halo system can significantly reduce the risk of injury to the driver. Moreover, in many cases the system was able to prevent the helmet from coming into contact with a barrier when checked against a series of accidents that had occurred in the past. During the study of the last case it was found that the halo is able to deflect large objects and provide greater protection against smaller debris.
The system is used in Formula 1, as well as in all of the FIA formula classes. However, as vehicles will have to be redesigned to introduce this system, for many classes the halo will only be introduced in the new generation of single-seaters.
In August 2017 the Dallara F2 2018, a new Formula 2 car, was presented and was the first to install the halo system. The SRT05e Formula E car presented in January 2018 had a halo. In November 2018, the 2019 FIA Formula 3 car, which was unveiled in Abu Dhabi, installed the halo too.
As an alternative to the halo system, Red Bull Racing developed the "aeroscreen". The design, which was similar to a small fairing, did not receive much interest from the FIA. After the drivers had expressed their opposition to the introduction of the halo system, the FIA developed the "shield", a polyvinyl chloride windscreen based on the airbrush concept.
Sebastian Vettel was the first and only driver to try the shield. During the free practice for the 2017 British Grand Prix, he completed a lap with the new system before ending the test early. He complained of distorted and blurred vision that prevented him from driving. Its introduction was subsequently excluded, partly because the teams did not have enough time to test and study the shield.
The system has aroused some criticism, including that of Niki Lauda who claimed that this system distorts the "essence of racing cars". The system has also proved unpopular with fans, who have said that it is ugly, against the concept of open-cockpit racing, and obstructs the driver's vision. For instance, an unofficial online poll among users on the Autosport Web site showed that around three-quarters of the voters were against the halo. Other former drivers, including Jackie Stewart, welcomed the system and compared it to the introduction of seat belts, which had been similarly criticised, but then became the norm also on road cars.
Despite initial criticism, the halo was praised by the community following two incidents where the halo was struck by another car — one in the Formula Two race at Catalunya where Tadasuke Makino's halo was landed on by fellow countryman Nirei Fukuzumi's car and one in the Belgian Grand Prix where Charles Leclerc's halo was struck by Fernando Alonso's airborne McLaren, with both of their haloes showing visible damage from the impact. Both Makino and Leclerc credited the halo for possibly saving their lives, and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, who had criticised the halo earlier in the season, admitted that it had proved itself following Leclerc's incident.
The halo was credited with saving the life of Alexander Peroni after the driver walked away from an airborne crash in which his vehicle landed on top of the driver's cockpit during a Formula 3 event at Monza on Sep 7, 2019.
- "The FIA approves Formula 1's first supplier to the Halo". F1i.com. 16 January 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- Author, Unknown (3 March 2018). "How to Make an F1 Halo". FIA. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
- "F1 | FIA working on Halo alternative 'Shield' - FP English". FormulaPassion.it (in Italian). 8 April 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- "Vettel says Shield made him "dizzy" in test run". Motorsport.com. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- Noble, Jonathan. "Niki Lauda: Halo destroys efforts to boost Formula 1's popularity". Autosport.com. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
- Kalinauckas, Alex. "Jackie Stewart: F1 halo critics are like 1960s safety backlash". Autosport.com. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- Benyon, Jack. "Makino believes halo saved his life in F2 crash". Motorsport.com. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
- Richards, Giles. "Charles Leclerc pays tribute to halo after walking away from Belgian GP crash". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
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