Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

Hulkenberg, Hamilton and Rosberg divided over Halo

2016 F1 season

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Nico Hulkenberg has come out against the driver head protection system dubbed Halo which Ferrari ran in testing today.

Speaking to NBC after today’s test Hulkenberg said Formula One needs to retain an element of danger.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016
Raikkonen gave Halo its first real-world test
“Personally I’m not a big fan of it,” he said. “I think safety and security in F1 and the standards are pretty high and very good. I would be happy to accept those risks and keep running as we are.”

Hulkenberg added he had reservations about the aesthetics of the design which used on Kimi Raikkonen’s car.

“Personally I don’t like the optics of it,” he added, “I don’t like how it looks.”

“And for me it feels a bit like trying to eliminate every little bit of risk is I think moving a bit in the wrong direction, making the sport a bit unattractive. It’s also one element I think which has attracted people and fans to the sport as well and that’s why I don’t think we should do it.”

Hulkenberg raced a closed-cockpit Porsche 919 Hybrid in two rounds of the World Endurance Championship last year but said the difference was “not a big change, not a big deal”.

“Obviously here the halo thing is not a closed environment. But it didn’t really change the world, to be honest.”

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016
Rosberg strongly supports increased cockpit protection
Other drivers have backed the proposal. Nico Rosberg posted on Twitter that Halo promised to be a “massive safety improvement”.

“It will look OK too eventually,” he added. “I’m all for it”.

Former F1 driver Max Chilton, who had a near-miss with debris in a crash involving Raikkonen at Silverstone two years ago, said he “couldn’t agree more” with Rosberg.

“I am sure full helmets looked strange after wearing goggles,” Chilton added. “Things change, that’s life.”

However Lewis Hamilton sided with Hulkenberg, taking to Instagram to criticise Halo.

“Please no,” he posted. “This is the worst looking mod in Formula One history.”

“I appreciate the quest for safety but this is Formula One and the way it is now is perfectly fine.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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75 comments on “Hulkenberg, Hamilton and Rosberg divided over Halo”

  1. I do agree that something must be done regarding the drivers’ head protection, yet I cannot become friends with a halo on a formula 1 car. Maybe it is just utter nonsense as I am not an engineer, but anyways: Why not extend the airbox to a point that is vertically just shortly ahead of the driver’s helmet and let it act as some kind of deflector for bigger debris such as tires?
    As the halo concept’s idea is to deflect only bigger debis such as tires and maybe medium-sized parts of the bodywork, this solution should be sufficient insofar as that it still matches the aesthetics of an open wheeler with an open cockpit and additionally doesn’t hinder the driver’s view towards the fron. If done right the area ahead of the driver’s head should be a little smaller than the surface of a tire and therefore in case of a frontal accident a tire should hit the airbox first and already lose a ton of energy before hitting anything else. Maybe the cockpit sides should in that case be extended to that given line to furthermore help the driver’s safety.
    Due to its increased length the airbox should furthermore be supported by mandatory pylons with a given minimum area that should protect the driver in cases of side impacts. If designed correctly drivers should – although more tricky admittedly – still be able to exit their cockpits in less than 5 seconds.

    However, coming from another profession and therefore having no skills at all in CFD or similar I just painted a solution in good old MS paint this evening that I had on my mind for some time now. Just a thought with some draws. Nonsense or worth thinking about? Spread the word, show it to Bernie, Charlie Whiting, Jo Bauer, anyone! :D

    Version a:
    http://www2.pic-upload.de/img/29921844/Williams2016a.jpg

    Version b:
    http://www2.pic-upload.de/img/29921846/Williams2016b.jpg

    Original Williams FW38:
    http://www2.pic-upload.de/img/29921845/Williams2016.jpg

    1. For paint that’s a pretty good job!

      I’m thinking they should just bite the bullet and close the cockpit.

      The trouble with the halo is that it’s a compromise, increase head protection but don’t enclose the head . The problem with a compromise is that it tends to accomplish neither objective very well.

      Better to just be a knight and do it right.

      (Sorry been stuck watching mike the knight with the kids)

      1. But you have read the many problems involved in enclosing the cockpit, no? It’s very complicated and personally I think not even doable without a complete and very very expensive and risky redesign of what we have become accustomed to F1 being. Otherwise they would just do that instead of a far far easier to implement halo.

        1. They are redesigning the cars for 2017 tremendously, so why not go my proposal or a cockpit instead of a so-so solution like the halo?! Do it right or leave it be.

    2. Really it needs to be a barrier in front of the head though, @phil1984.

      1. I disagree, since everything it needs is some sort of deflection device ahead of the driver’s helmet (airbox) and an area again ahead of the driver that is smaller than a tire, so that is not the helmet that is the first thing a tire touches while impacting. Conceptually the halo design doesn’t do anything more or less than deflecting tires or any mid-to-big-sized debris, just like my drawing. Both demands are given at my “solution”. No?

        1. It’s true it creates a slot, I suppose, @phil1984.

        2. Me too, an windscreen is enough to deflect debri and maybe a tire. This halo look me more for accidents like Alsonso and Raikonnen and maybe Jules but smaller things like debri isn’t deflected.

    3. How is a driver supposed to get in or out of that? Also the drivers head is even more exposed then the halo design.

      1. I guess it is still possible to slide left and right of the airbox, yet this is something that needs carefully designed with the mandatory pylons in mind. But I agree, that’s a weakness. It’s just a sketch, remember! ;)

        1. I think you are seriously overestimating the maneuverability of a driver when they are sitting in the driving seat. Literally all they can do is go upwards. This extended airbox idea is a non-starter.

    4. @phil1984, the FIA’s medical team and the drivers would hate such a solution, because it now creates a considerable obstacle around the drivers head.

      As Martin notes, that would make it extremely difficult for a driver to easily and quickly exit the car in the event of an accident, if not almost impossible with the current generation of cars.

      The medical teams would also raise objections due to the fact that, asides from making it more difficult for them to access the driver, your solution also means that they would have to bend the drivers neck and spine in order to manoeuvre them around the airbox. Due to the risk of aggravating potential neck or spinal injuries in the event of a crash, that solution would be completely unacceptable to them.

      1. Fair enough. Was worth discussing it though.

  2. I was thinking halo without the front mount? Maybe 2 mounts, 1 either side not obstructing views to the mirror, ensuring any failure of structure would be down, not inwards? Would have the advantage of not blocking the drivers view.

    1. @9chris9 the central mount was on purpose. The drivers spent 80 % of their time looking left or right, either looking for brake marks, apexes or the occasional car. that’s the reason the teams put all their antennas and stuff in the middle of the ‘leg/feet area’. plus if you put two mounting points you block twice as much of the driver’s view

      1. RaceProUK (@)
        4th March 2016, 9:39

        It depends how thick the mounting points are. Also, the antennae are so thin they don’t obstruct visibility at all. But I agree, a single pillar in the middle is a better idea than two; the design can be refined to make the pillar slimmer.

    2. I agree with the 2 side mounts. You could still have a bar across to shield the drivers head and the whole thing could attach with the funky existing foam bits they have around the drivers shoulders/helmet now. That thing is not so easy to take off but we have seen a motivated driver pop it off quickly.

      I imagine the 2 side mounts could be lexan/polycarb, whatever you want to call it, and then there is no side or front obstruction. The carbon fiber/painted bits could then make a ‘halo’ around the driver. It is not all about the drivers view, it is also important to allow the spectators to see a lot of the drivers helmet.

  3. I totally agree with the HULK. F1 needs danger, otherwise you’ll just go flat-out and be late-braking and stuff not bothered by the risk of getting hurt. Will be much more careless driving

    1. Personally I doubt that because drivers will still be trying to maximize their tires etc. ‘To finish first you must first finish’….you know…that kind of thinking. Just because the drivers would feel safer, which I think they already feel pretty safe anyway, doesn’t mean they’d be willing to throw a race away. If they were literally suddenly careless, well there’s penalties and sanctions for that.

      I do agree F1 needs to retain some bit of danger to make it enthralling to watch, and a halo isn’t going to change the danger for a driver of making a mistake and going off and/or hitting another car and ending his day. We don’t need to see drivers hurt to be enthralled by F1, but if we know they’re on the edge, which in this day and age they’re only conserving everything and not on the edge, then that should be enough.

      1. I do agree, however, that a halo is not really the solution to the problem of the exposed head.

    2. I am sorry to say this- but that kind of attitude towards safety has no business in serious, professional motor racing. The kinds of dangers that have to be eliminated are the kinds of careless dangers that can be prevented. In this business- when drivers are contracted to do (in this case, 2016), 21 races in a season- the exposed head is simply not acceptable anymore, and there has to be some kind of canopy that envelops the driver’s head entirely that stops deaths like Justin Wilson’s at the Pocono IndyCar race (a race that went to, and I saw Wilson’s death with my own eyes) or Ayrton Senna’s in 1994- and hopefully even Bianchi’s at Suzuka in 2014.

      Gone are the amateur days of races like, say the Carrera Panamericana, where you had guys racing there in Mexico who sometimes proclaimed that they would win, or die trying- which happened in 1951. The Isle of Man TT is a race that is entirely voluntary- riders are not forced to do it out of countractual obligations due to the race being a part of the championship- which it isn’t. That is the kind of status the IOM TT should have- no rider should ever be forced to do a race that dangerous.

      I think that F1 circuits nowadays are fantastically safe- but they are far too conservative and flawed in their layout design- there aren’t enough fast circuits or general variation between circuits anymore. An F1 circuit should be mentally challenging and they should be difficult in different ways- which is not the case anymore. The ideal version of F1, IMO, is to have a circuit that is damned challenging, and if you go off- you could have a big accident- in a car where the odds of dying or getting hurt are as mimized as possible.

  4. It doesn’t look right

  5. Dear drivers: if you want an element of risk, why aren’t you complaining about the abundance of paved runoff at the circuits now? Those are more unsightly and hurt the racing far more. I’d rather have the halos than more parking lot tracks.

    1. I think some drivers have complained about that.

      1. One argument for the paved runoffs is that fans don’t have to see their fave driver’s day ended by making a small mistake, or worse, by getting nudged off by another car and there they sit in the kitty litter having done nothing wrong. I do fully appreciate though the risk and therefore tension caused by an unforgiving runoff being there, and how it dumbs down a track to pave runoffs.

        1. I want to see drivers punished by making mistakes. I would be happy to have spike strips at the track edge to make one or more tire replacements needed for exceeding track limits. Its better than being beached in a gravel trap……

  6. I have to agree with Hulkenberg this time…

  7. Why not make this a driver choice? If he feels he needs it as he feels safer then put it on. Its a minor thing but having it on really makes the viewing audience feel really disconnected with the car and driver and whats going on in the cockpit. you wouldn’t know who was in there let alone steering, where he’s looking, if he’s giving someone the thumbs up. Its just not a good look and i feel the essence of F1 is rapidly disappearing. Yes arguments are mostly due to aesthetics but i feel F1 has come so far in terms of safety that this is 1 step in the wrong direction

    1. @johns23 it cannot be on a driver by driver basis because the car has to be designed either with it or not. If such a measure were to be implemented (with which i personally do not agree) it would have to be on a team by team basis

  8. Anyone thinking it’s odd that despite this being an early prototype, Ferrari still went ahead with putting sponsors on the Halo. I’m guessing someone at FOM had a quick word and told them to show some appeal for sponsors since it doesn’t really look right at the moment.

  9. At this stage I say no to all of these proposals. Bianchi death was down to a tractor there are procedure changes that can be made to prevent that. Massa accident…halo would not have helped and helmets have changed so same injuries would not happen now. This is a reaction to things in other formula and F1 has much higher safety standards than them. Of more concern to me is tractors on track, a proper virtual safety car procedure using the pit lane speed limit and investigating how to prevent cars going under barriers like in Russia 2015.

    1. I disagree, in the event of an object coming from the front towards the driver, I think the front arm would have a significant chance of deflecting it. F1 may have higher standards than other formulas, but not in head protection. So that’s rather irrelevant.

      1. In the case of Massa, it was a spring traveling nearly parallel to the chassis, so there wouldn’t be any protection from the halo. In the case of Bianchi, the impact sheared off a roll hoop that’s supposed to be able to take the entire weight of the car in a roll-over situation, and as Bianchi’s father points out, what did in Jules was the massive deceleration to his cranium.

        It might have helped Surtees, although that was some serious mass + velocity.

        The concept probably would have saved Justin Wilson, over in Indycar (but not Dan Wheldon a couple years earlier).

        The halo is good against medium to large, lightweight pieces of debris. That’s it.

        What concerns me more is that in the case of Spa 2012, when Alonso had his near miss, is that the halo (as shown on the Ferrari this week) could have actually acted as a guide to pull lower elements off of Grosjean’s car into Alonso’s cockpit.

    2. RaceProUK (@)
      4th March 2016, 9:42

      You keep pushing this idea that just because a safety device wouldn’t have helped some people, it’s not worth pursuing. So it wouldn’t have helped Bianchi, and probably wouldn’t have helped Massa. But a similar device would have helped Wilson, and it would have saved Henry Surtees. So yes, it’s worth pursuing.

      1. I am not discounting more head protection, F1 is so safe because they push the safety aspect so much and is one of the areas they are above other formula and this is another example of them really looking into improving safety again. Surtees and Wilson died in other formula it was not an F1 problem and why are Indy Car not looking at this, there have been a number of deaths and serious injuries in Indy Car over the past 20 years.

        What I am saying is by eliminating hypothetical safety issue with current F1 they are also introducing new hypothetical safety issues, so change one thing to create another issue and overall safety may not necessarily improve. This is however in a very early stage and with more research and thought I am sure a better solution will be found I doubt however by 2017. I also feel there are other current aspects of F1 which need to be looked at in terms of safety that have caused a death or a very close call.

  10. I think a windshield added to this to prevent small debris would look a bit better, have the glass material flush with the outside of the structure to prevent the clarity of the abhorrent g-string shape. Keep the top open to prevent the canopy escape potential issues, but after seeing this prototype I don’t see why there shouldn’t be a windshield compromise added to this solution at least.

    1. https://i.imgur.com/ObAQiM7.jpg https://imgur.com/lEHmACa just a couple quick photoshops to illustrate how this structure could look with a windscreen attached. Much more palatable imo.

      1. That actually looks better imo. Good job.

    2. I think a windshield or fairing makes a lot of sense because in a collision there are a lot of small debris flying around, and it would reduce the risk to the driver.

  11. Agree with Nico.

  12. Avoiding a potential death is more important than an opinion about how a car should or should not look. Regardless of any nostalgia or personal sentiment. Hell, look at the 70s, F1 cars were changing massively year on year compared to what we have now, which has essentially been the same shape for 15 or so years. They’re simply trying out solutions and I say why not.

    1. I think this is right. We should draw comparisons with other safety improvements that people also didn’t like. Helmets weren’t popular, the HANS device drew quite a lot of criticism, with Mark Martin saying “”I would not wear one for anything. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed and take my chances” and that was within a week of Earndhart’s death from a crash where the HANS device may well have saved him. You can go back further to the famous dislike for full face helmets. Seat belts where unpopular for a long time as well.

  13. The person I feel is most entitled to give his opinion is Felipe Massa, IMO. He’s the lucky one that escaped alive from an accident which the Halo device is supposed to (partially) solve.

    I think his interpretation would put some value into the discussion. Everyone can say it’s horrible (and it is), but the safety aspect isn’t something to just dismiss. Drivers also went against Stewart when he called for more safety, calling him a coward and “that’s racing”, but that started the trend and look where we are now. And even now, there’s room for improvement.

  14. “This is the worst looking mod in Formula One history.”

    …. Are you sure this is the Lewis that’s been following F1 since he’s a kid?

  15. I have seen this happening in other sports as well like doctors telling to ban tackles in Rugby and people asking to ban bouncers in Cricket after Phil Hughes death. Well guess what freak accidents happen. Why not make better helmets out of different materials. Fear has no place in F1.

  16. It’s good the way it is.

  17. The problem here is it isn’t people that have had a close shave, where the driver was inches from being killed, that are saying “We don’t have a problem”. Go and ask a driver like Mark Webber, who had a car go right over the top of him, and see what he says.
    As I said a few days ago, one other thing that should be done is to increase the space proportionally between the rows of cars on the start grid so as to reduce the risk of collision at the start of the race.

    1. As far as I’m aware. Mark was and still is against closed cockpits in F1. Not surprising since he is a real man. Leve them the way they are.

      1. RaceProUK (@)
        4th March 2016, 9:44

        Not surprising since he is a real man.

        Not wanting to die means you’re not a real man? Wow, that’s a disgusting attitude.

        1. No … Having a “pair” makes you a real man. Accepting the fact that there is a degree of risk but doing something anyway. Having some balls. Going above and beyond the norms of everyday life. That’s what makes a man. This Halo is ridiculous. It’s the equivalent of making a law that you have to wear a helmet when you go jogging, because you might just trip and bang your head.

          The DISGUSTING thing is the attitude of forcing safety on people, even when they are happy to continue with things the way they are!!! There are plenty of people willing to come to Formula1 WITH THE CURRENT LEVEL OF SAFETY!!! Go start your own “Wimpula1” championship with your “fairies” cars. Leave Formula 1 alone.

          1. RaceProUK (@)
            4th March 2016, 11:22

            I honestly thought you couldn’t be any more disgusting, yet somehow you managed it. I’m glad you care so little for people’s well-being that you’re happy for them to risk avoidable injury and death, just to make you happy. Hey, if it’s danger you want, then why not remove all those safety measures that have been added over the last 40 years? We could go back to the days when six drivers died every year. Would that make you even happier?

          2. I think I can see the point you are trying to make but then was Jackie Iyxx a real man and Jackie Stewart a wimp as they had arguments over safety?

            I thought Max Chilton had a good point when saying moving from Goggles to Helmets was met with contention, same with safety belts. I think improved head protection for drivers is a valid line of investigation and should be applauded I do however think it should not be rushed in without looking into it for longer.

          3. F1 has taken safety very seriously, more than any other sport and that is a good step, but freaking out after every accident seems to be a norm these days. Its not about being man or women, its being brave, love for speed and nerves of steel. If you think F1 is not safe then sir/mam you are free to watch or participate in something else. Micheal Schumacher was injured while skiing, yet to recover. Sports can be dangerous.

          4. “It’s the equivalent of making a law that you have to wear a helmet when you go jogging, because you might just trip and bang your head.”

            Its blatantly not though. It is more the equivalent of enforcing hard hat usage on building sites because people are at risk of sustaining serious head injuries, which no sane person would argue against.

            Maybe your backwards 1950s viewpoint has rendered your mental faculties critically impaired though? It certainly sounds like it what with your offensive and borderline homophobic ranting.

          5. +1

            At least there is still MotoGP and WSBK etc….

          6. RaceProUK (@)
            4th March 2016, 19:42

            If you think F1 is not safe then sir/mam you are free to watch or participate in something else.

            So @illusive, are you saying that it’s OK for people to die unnecessarily, just so you can get your fix? If so, that’s sickening.

          7. I stand by my views. Whether you find them digusting is of no concern to me. I would gladly drive an F1… even one as far back as the 1990s. The danger for me (even as a driver) is part of the appeal. Have you raced open wheelers? Probably not. Once again I would like to state that there are people that are wanting to drive in formula1 in their current state. They don’t want this. This halo is a step way too far and F1 is already SAFE ENOUGH!!! As I have said before … what’s next? Remote control F1 cars. People like you are what’s wring with the world. You must really hate people that participate in dangerous sports. You must think they’re so irresponsible!!! You must consider MotoGP madness. That’s pathetic.

          8. RaceProUK (@)
            5th March 2016, 2:02

            People like you are what’s wring with the world.

            People who value life and don’t want to see needless and avoidable death are what’s wrong with the world? You make me physically sick.

          9. @raceprouk No i did not say that, if i reject close cockpit doesn’t mean i want people to die. I want F1 to remain open wheel racing, and just like me there are racers that want it to remain open wheels, that doesn’t mean we don’t want safety. Looking for other alternatives like making better helmets and suits should safer and better.

          10. RaceProUK (@)
            5th March 2016, 9:16

            @illusive: Thanks for the clarification :)

  18. Why not use Kevlar for helmets, why not use ballistic proof materials used in military for helmets.

    1. Kevlar is one of the materials used.

  19. Morningview66
    4th March 2016, 8:08

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/70/Vacarella,_Nino_-_Ferrari_512_S_-_1970-05-31.jpg

    Could something like this work, you will have to use a bit of imagination. A screen around the front of the driver, with an open top for access.
    Or half a halo with a small screen in front?

    1. RaceProUK (@)
      4th March 2016, 11:24

      Could something like this work, you will have to use a bit of imagination. A screen around the front of the driver, with an open top for access.

      I have to be honest, this is probably the best suggestion anyone here has come up with; the only complaint I have is I didn’t think of it first :P

  20. Would it have prevented Massa’s incident, Alonso Grosjean Spa, and Bianchi? No. As for Surtees, well tyres should not be flying around in the first place so stronger tethers should be looked at.

    I think it has to be all or nothing. Close the cockpit or leave it as is, I believe that’s the decision to be made here, not this middle ground approach.

  21. I agree with Hamilton, it doesn’t look great. You can’t wrap drivers in cotton wool. Yes it may stop tyres hitting drivers but it won’t stop what happened to Massa, if anything this could of made Massa’s injury worse by funnelling the debris into his visor. Not for this at all.

    1. RaceProUK (@)
      4th March 2016, 9:43

      if anything this could of made Massa’s injury worse by funnelling the debris into his visor

      How?

  22. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, a halo with support struts either side of the helmet and a windshield between it and the cockpit is the way forward, a mix of this design and the red bull version

    1. Yeah I really think there should be a windshield regardless of the actual structure design. It just doesn’t make sense not to have one because it wont stop debris which is half the potential problem :S

  23. I think Hulk is a hero for expressing an opinion that is unpopular with the GPDA and fellow drivers, but I’m not sure he’s right.

  24. Rather than using a compromised design, they should tear up the rule book and start from scratch. In that way they can try to address all of the “issues” at once, more mechanical grip, closed cockpit, covered tires, more challenging to drive etc. With any design there comes a point when you can no longer tack things on and you have to address things via a redesign and this seems as good a time as any.

  25. I find it amazing that they can just add this halo weighing 5 kg but the drivers still have to starve because of weight restrictions.

  26. I’m all for it. They’ll be able to make it slightly sleeker (maybe) and get some different colors on it… Driver safety is critical. It doesn’t look all that bad.

  27. Re: aesthetics – I’ll take the halo over the fiddly, fragile snowplow that currently rests at the front of the F1 car.

  28. I see that ‘boys’ and ‘fathers’ are divided. I believe that when ‘boys’ become ‘fathers’, their view of the Halo will change. Just my opinion based on personal experience.

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