“What’s the halo in F1?” That’s a question when many fans, new and old, see that modern Formula 1 cars look very different from their predecessors.
Essentially, the halo is a crash protection system that can take enormous weight and take the form of curved bars that sit on the front and top of the driver’s helmet.
Below we tell you why, how and when it happened!
What Is the Halo in F1?
The Formula 1 halo is the latest and most important advancement in driver safety in the history of the sport, as it protects many drivers from everything from loose debris entering the cockpit to vehicle rollovers and horrific crashes.
Made of grade 5 titanium, this wishbone-shaped protector is the strongest part of the car and can hold the weight of a bus despite weighing just 9kg.
When Was the Halo Introduced in F1?
Incited by F1’s latest (and hopefully last) fatal accident – Jules Bianchi’s fatal crash at Suzuka in 2014 – the governing body has decided to act to protect drivers from serious head trauma The cause of death of Bianchi and other drivers.
The halo was first tried in 2016 (a year after Jules died of injuries), and it successfully protected the driver in three situations, greatly reducing the risk of injury: collision between vehicles, contact with debris, and and environmental impact.
Following a follow-up round of testing in July 2017, the FIA considered the halo to be ready for full-time use from the 2018 season, when it was mandatory on every car in its formula division, including F1, F2 , F3, F4 and Formula E.
Note: The halo is made by three FIA-approved manufacturers and costs around £12,000, a fraction of the total cost of an F1 car of around £15m.
Does the F1 Halo Obstruct Vision?
Since the halo is made of titanium, manufacturers are able to design thinner strips.
Additionally, the top horizontal bar is out of the driver’s peripheral vision, while the front vertical bar is unobtrusive when looking forward.
In addition to providing an unobstructed view, the halo is the only protection system of all the proposed solutions that can successfully deflect a wheel fired at 250 km/h.
Why Was the Halo Controversial?
While F1 continues to innovate in cutting-edge vehicle technology to improve the world’s fastest cars, driver safety remains the sport’s main focus.
Because of this, the FIA keeps revising its safety procedures, much to the chagrin of fans, drivers and teams, and the F1 halo device is no exception.
The main argument against implementing the halo is its appearance, as opponents say it undermines the visual appeal of a single-seater.
More informed criticisms include potential vision and movement impairments, as the driver must see clearly and be able to get out of the cockpit quickly if needed.
However, both arguments have been met with controversy and silence since drivers got used to F1’s halo, which has proven to be a key measure in multiple crashes.
Ultimately, any new safety features will lead to better races, as riders will gain the confidence they need to push their 1,000-horsepower machine beast to the limit.
Additionally, the introduction of seat belts and the F1 safety car met with similar opposition – two essential add-ons that forever changed the sport and made it safer.
How Many Lives Has the Halo Saved in F1?
With drivers being the most important investment of any F1 team, fans, manufacturers and officials can always breathe a sigh of relief when they emerge from a horrific crash unscathed.
The last accident that resulted in a loss of life was at the 2022 Silverstone Grand Prix, where Zhou Guanyu’s car ended up hitting a guardrail after flipping several times at high speed.
In Zhou’s words: “I’m fine, everything is clear. Halo saved me today. Thank you all for the good news!”, without the Halo system, the crash would have been fatal.
However, when Alonso’s car landed on Leclerc’s roof at the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix, Formula 1’s halo turned many of its harshest critics into believers, and if it weren’t for the halo, it would have Crush Leclerc’s head.
Events in the years that followed cemented the halo’s status as a necessary addition to the car’s chassis, notably Grosjean’s 2020 Bahrain crash, when he hit a guardrail and would have been decapitated without the halo.
All told, Halo has protected more than a dozen drivers from serious injury (or even death). So far—an investment that has proven its worth many times over.
Since the halo implemented in F1, early criticism of its visual appeal has subsided when its contribution to overall driver safety became apparent.
Plus, fans can now enjoy faster and more fun racing as drivers feel comfortable pushing to limit knowing. They are well protected by F1’s halo setup.
Who invented the F1 halo?
The original version of the modern halo system proposed by Mercedes. When several F1 teams asked to design a head restraint after a Bianchi crash.
Do F1 teams have to use the halo?
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