How much safer will F1 drivers be with Halo?

2017 F1 season

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The FIA will introduce the Halo to Formula One next year to improve driver safety. But how big a step forward does the controversial design offer?

The obvious difference between Halo and the competing Shield design has prompted questions over just how much safer it will make drivers. While the rejected Shield design placed a screen in front of the drivers to deflect all types of debris, Halo is designed specifically to protection against cockpit intrusion by heavy pieces of debris and other objects.

“The Halo is there principally to look into the way drivers have been hit by wheels,” explained FIA safety delegate Charlie Whiting last year, “but also where we’ve seen cars in contact with the environment, so to speak: walls, for example. [Marco] Campos in Magny-Cours, Greg Moore in Fontana. Those sorts of things as well.”

Halo is twice as strong as the current roll structure and has passed real-world tests using a 20kg wheel assembly fired at 225 kph. “It’s a very, very strong thing,” Whiting commented.

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But there are limits to its strength. The FIA said in its report into Jules Bianchi’s fatal 2014 crash that “it is not feasible to mitigate the injuries Bianchi suffered by… enclosing the driver’s cockpit.” And it’s not hard to understand why: Bianchi’s 690kg (dry weight) car hit a crane while travelling at 126kph, generating massively higher forces than a tyre striking a driver.

“It will stop a wheel,” said Whiting. “It will stop large objects and it will protect the driver against incursion from another car, walls, interaction with tyre barriers, all those things.”

Formula One has had several near-misses along these lines in recent years: Max Chilton was nearly hit by a wheel in 2014 (see video below), Romain Grosjean landed on Fernando Alonso’s cockpit in 2012 and Alonso landed on Kimi Raikkonen’s cockpit two years ago.

However as Halo does not involve putting a screen in front of the driver small pieces of debris will still be able to pass through.

“When you look at the small objects coming towards it, we’ve done a paper study to theoretically throw over a million angles and different scenarios,” explained Whiting. “We conclude that 17 per cent of the time it will deflect something from the driver – as opposed to none without the Halo.”

The question then becomes how great a danger to the drivers are these smaller pieces of debris. Felipe Massa, for instance, was hit by a spring which fell from Rubens Barrichello’s car during qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix. Massa suffered head injuries but survived, and crash helmets were later strengthened to offer further protection against this kind of accident.

Visibility with Halo will be ‘no worse than in WEC’
Does Halo introduce new problems for the drivers such as impaired visibility and restricted cockpit egress? Although drivers who are used to open cockpits will undoubtedly notice a difference when the Halo is added, Whiting reckons “if you compare it with an LMP1 car it is extremely good visibility”.

Drivers have given different opinions on how much of an obstacle Halo presents to getting out of the car. The worst-case scenario for this is where a car is inverted and on fire, and the driver needs to escape in a hurry. Whether drivers are at greater risk from this or cockpit intrusion is one of the judgements the FIA has had to make when introducing Halo.

“If a car turned over and was on fire, if it has been in an accident big enough to cause a fire then the driver probably can’t get out by himself anyway,” Whiting explained. “Then the first course of action will be for marshals to get there and turn the car over and this is the sort of thing you see quite regularly.”

“So I have always felt that a car being upside down is always a worry, but the marshals are normally there very quickly and they would turn it back over. That’s the way we’ve always felt about that particular scenario.”

Safety improvements in motor racing were simpler matters 50 years ago. Replacing trees and walls with barriers and run-off areas obviously made F1 safer.

The FIA clearly believes the Halo offers a sufficient improvement to safety to be worth introducing, irrespective of concerns over its appearance. “I know that some people have said they don’t like the look of it,” Whiting added, “but it’s never come across as being the reason for not having Halo.”

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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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116 comments on “How much safer will F1 drivers be with Halo?”

  1. That Chilton near miss is pretty frightening, I don’t remember that. I take it the tether failed?

    1. Shaun Robinson (@)
      21st July 2017, 14:57

      Most likely to be how the tether is fixed to the chassis/wheel-upright that failed as opposed to the tether itself.

      1. And this is where all this research time should have been spent, and still should be.

      2. @robinsonf1, it is hard to tell exactly, but it looks like it was part of the tyre carcass that had been torn from the wheel hub – so although the tethers may have worked, there is only so much force that the rest of the tyre itself can take.

        @john-h, since you bring it up, they have been updating the design of the tethers over time – bear in mind that they now have two tethers on each wheel, and each tether is designed to withstand a tensile force of at least 70kN (i.e. each individual tether is capable of holding a static weight of 7000 kg).

    2. Yes it is. We can’t argue with incidents as such as the Campos incident, that said most tracks can be adapted to avoid that scenario. Wheels could be fixated in much better way. 17 percent protection against flying debris is I going to take a guess that that number is a simple calculation of the surface area covered by the Halo around the driver. Visibility and it’s importance has been ignored. Finally the Halo’s effect on it’s surroundings, I wonder if the FIA studied the aero dynamic effect of the Halo on debris and more importantly the likelihood of any debris of getting redirected as an effect of the Halo.

      1. @peartree

        going to take a guess that that number is a simple calculation of the surface area covered by the Halo around the driver

        No need to guess, the article already tells you how they came up with it an unsurprisingly for F1 it wasn’t just a simple calculation of the surface area: “We’ve done a paper study to theoretically throw over a million angles and different scenarios”

        Visibility also hasn’t been ignored, again as covered in the article: “if you compare it with an LMP1 car it is extremely good visibility” and also by the fact that they tested extensively last year.

        If your comment is “I don’t like the look of it and for me that’s more important than the driver safety issue” is one thing but to make out that it isn’t safer because you don’t like it seems to be the order of the day.

        Do I like the look of it? – not particularly but I’m not too bothered (when you think about it all formula one cars fundamentally are a very odd shape, it’s just that we’re used to it). Do I think driver safety is more important – absolutely. If it’s the best compromise solution available for 2018 then I see no reason not to introduce it.

  2. I’ve never really been one to say, “I’ll never watch F1 again.” I mean, I dislike the V6 Turbos with the MGU system, I hate the modern look of the cars, I hate the noses, I hate the T-Wings, I hate all the penalty rules… I hate half the new tracks out there today, and I love old school F1 (personally 97-07 era) but I like to look into the future, I don’t dwell on the past. I always follow the sport, racing, not engines or tracks. I can live with ugly, boring looking cars, because I simply love racing, and am passionate about F1.

    But the Halo. No thanks, this destroys the sport for me, personally. Others may feel different, but the halo is one too many steps beyond the line.

    I appreciate the goal and agree with the idea to improve safety, but there’s just way too many issues with the halo to list to consider it ending up on the most elite motorsport on earth.

    1. You’re going to feel how you’re going to feel, and I likely can’t change that, but I don’t get ‘too many issues with the halo to list’ and it is not going to change the excitement level of a close battle on track such as we have been seeing this year.

      I’d prefer they not add this device, but it certainly isn’t a deal breaker for me. But hey, we each have our own fingerprint right? Thank goodness.

      1. I’m aware of at least 5 separate strands of objection (aesthetics, slippery slope to LMP1, extrication, deflection efficacy and risk philosophy) within the F1 community, which have varying degrees of validity. There may well be more. Some of these have several objection variants.

        This is how some people have too many objections to Halo to list. (Of course, some people have no objections at all, and the majority of people I’ve seen only really object to Halo on 1-2 grounds).

        1. I do like the look of the future F1 concepts such as the MP4-X concept car, but it is a skinny LMP1. That said the recent Renault f1 concept was garbage.

          1. Andries van Overbeeke’s concepts are probably the best I’ve seen for a closed cockpit f1 car, though I have no idea about the technical aspects of their design.

        2. @alianora-la-canta I’d say the majority object on 1 of those grounds and then try to build other arguments on the other strand in the knowledge that making a decision based on looks over safety isn’t going to wash.

          1. Aesthetic-based reasons have only been mentioned – in any level of the argument by a minority of the people I’ve seen (though it is the defence that Halo advocates seem most commonly interested in fending against).

      2. exactly, it is just a minor detail, and if it is to improve safety, I’m not even bother to make it affect the way I see the sport.

        whenever we have good races no one complains about the sound, tyres, looks, wings, halo, etc, those are all just details that at the end of the day don’t matter

    2. 97-07 old school? I feel so old that still seems like the modern era to me.

      Will they be able to lower the sides of the cockpit soon so we can see drivers turning the wheel? Extending this halo structure to not fully enclose the sides? If not fully enclosing the frontal area is best why not the sides as well? Maybe an Arial Atom type cockpit.

    3. pastaman (@)
      21st July 2017, 14:07


  3. If I could choose I’d have opted for the RB’s windschield (based on aesthetics). Fortunately for F1 I’m no engineer nor do FIA ask me to choose.
    I’m sure I will eventually get accustomed – if the race is good it’s all that matters to me, even flaccid noses were ugly but I couldn’t care less if race was thrilling.

    Realistically, the FIA had to make a move. It’s not the move expected but if it had to listen to everybody there simply would be no halo/windschield/windscreen.

    I’ll get over it the same way I don’t regret scorching ears engine sounds.

  4. The tethers are designed to fail after 50n of force (someone will correct me if im off on the limit) is applied. The point of a tether is that in a crash that is strong enough to break both suspension arms there is a means to retain the wheel on the car and not have it bouncing around.

    The reason for the failure limit is that while it is possible to make unbreakable tether this would mean that instead of ripping the wheel away from the chassis the chassis would be ripped off the tether, this would fracture the drivers safety cell exposing the driver to further injury should an impact with a car or barrier happen afterwards (see Panis breaking his legs in Canada after a double strike to a concrete retaining wall).

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      21st July 2017, 12:18

      Interesting – I didn’t know the tethers are breakable by design – it makes sense.

      I wonder if the tethers were actually a part of a subframe inside the monocoque (not part of the outside), would they be able to withstand more forces but then who knows what dangers that would pose and you’d need subframes front and back.

      Do rear tyres come off as often as front tyres in F1? I just have the impression that front tyres come off more often. Is there data to suggest that the front tyres are more likely to come off than the rear ones?

      Are the front and rear suspensions the same?

    2. 3.1.1 of Test Procedure 03/07.
      Each tether must have its own separate attachments at both ends which :
      – Are able to withstand a tensile force of 70kN in any direction within a cone of 45°
      (included angle) measured from the load line of the relevant suspension member.
      – On the survival cell or gearbox are separated by at least 100mm measured between the centres of the two attachment points.
      – On each wheel/upright assembly are separated by at least 90° radially with respect to the axis of the wheel and 100mm measured between the centres of the two attachment points.
      – Are able to accommodate tether end fittings with a minimum inside diameter of 15mm. Furthermore, no suspension member may contain more than one tether.
      Each tether must exceed 450mm in length and must utilise end fittings which result in a tether bend radius greater than 7.5mm.

      50n, which I assume you are referring to 50N as in Newtons, would be way too low. As seen above is actually 70kN

      1. Shaun Robinson (@)
        21st July 2017, 15:58

        Funnily enough, the same is described for Formula E. However it is worth noting that while they are supposed to take 70kN, the safety factor required is 1. Meaning that if the engineering calcs aren’t conservative then they can fail below that 70kN – usually by tearing the aluminium insert out of the structure by shearing through the carbon around the insert’s perimeter.

        1. @robinsonf1 in a perfect world with a safety factor of 1, you are ensuring that it actually fails always at 70kN, but since we aren’t it is a bit odd (as you say it might fail below, but above is also a possibility, I assume they converge the data for realiability) that they don’t have a slightly higher number, doesn’t aerospace use 1.2? Since the tech used in both has its similarities that would be a good number. In my line of work for example we have 1.5, which gives quite the margin

          1. Shaun Robinson (@)
            23rd July 2017, 12:48

            I agree it is a bit odd, but the FIA have accepted the stress reports I’ve submitted to them using RF=1, albeit with conservative assumptions listed. You can be sure though that if they chose to test your tether and it fails – they will come down on you hard! I tend to use 1.2 – 2 based upon the reliability of the manufacture process (I work with hand produced composite components) and whether its a service or abuse load case.

          2. Maybe in part this is also about the sheer amount of crash testing they have already been able to do with the tether/chassis designs enabling them to keep closer to the sort of minimal 1, compared to most other fields, where the environment is less controlled than use on a race track, production has a bit more variance (as these cars are more or less made to spec and in a very controlled manufacturing proces), has longer lifetimes and allows far less scope for regular testing/inspection of individual parts @robinsonf1, @johnmilk?

    3. 50N is 1/12 of what a driver weighs.

    4. 50N is about 5 kilos/10 pounds, actual tether rating is 70,000N, about 7 tons.

      1. Thank you for the correction i couldn’t remember off the top of my head what force there were designed to deal with before breaking. With F1 accidents reaching 80G of force measured in the cockpit the failure of parts at designated forces all contributes to the disapation of the energy when a crash happens. I wouldn’t want to be in any vehicle that is made strong enough to withstand those forces and is pinged around like a pinball between the barriers.

        1. That is where the cushioning around the cockpit, the HANS, Helmet as well as all the crash structures come into play, I guess Ed, to reduce the impacts on the drivers inside.

  5. About that Austria 2015 Alonso/Raikkonen crash, the McLaren comes from the side clear from Raikkonen’s head but in the direction of where the Halo would be. Now, I wonder, if the Halo was there, wouldn’t the bargeboard of the McLaren be cut by the Halo, throwing some debris (maybe some sharp pieces) inside Kimi’s cockpit? Maybe because it was at relatively low speed so it doesn’t matter, but

    Also, regarding the simulated small object test: 17% of the objects were deflected away from the driver, but how many were deflected towards the driver? It seems possible to me that with the Halo in place, the spring that hit Massa’s helmet could have been deflected downwards his neck or chest. I would like to know how probable it is.

    1. The FIA claimed 0%, probably because only actual hits and very-near-misses were tested (rather than situations that would have been hits or very-near-misses but for the absence of Halo). This is physically impossible.

    2. @paulk you have to take a lot of factors into account to know that probability.

      First you would have to check how probable it is for the spring to be detached and in the direction of an upcoming car, since we saw it happen only once I think it is fair to say it is very low. Than you will have to multiple that already very low probability with the chances of hitting the area where the driver is exposed, than multiply that again with the chances of hitting the halo, not only that, the chances of hitting the halo in a spot that could actually deflect the object into the cockpit.

      1. @johnmilk, as per the article, the FIA already simulated 1 million small debris scenarios to come up with the probability of a small object being deflected away from the driver. Using the same simulations they could have, very easily, come up with the probability of a small object being reflected towards the driver.

        1. @paulk They could, which was why I was so baffled that no mention of that was made in the research (when actual accident modelling was).

    3. @paulk

      It seems possible to me that with the Halo in place, the spring that hit Massa’s helmet could have been deflected downwards his neck or chest.

      The spring which hit Massa deflected off the cockpit padding, which the FIA had enlarged the size of at the beginning of 2009. Had they not done that, the spring might not have hit him. Yet I don’t recall anyone saying that meant the FIA was wrong to increase the cockpit protection, and it hasn’t subsequently been taken off the cars.

      Which surely proves the point that you can’t legislate for every eventuality but that in itself is no reason not to introduce something which should be an improvement in the majority of circumstances.

      1. If anyone were introducing something that should be an improvement in the majority of circumstances, I think the Halo would have a lot more support. It just looks like it’s solving an Indycar problem, for one thing – they don’t have the runoff areas F1 almost always has, so the debris from a crash flies into the following drivers’ field – and a very rare problem for another thing in that people need to dig back dozens of years to find a handful of situations in which someone ALMOST got hurt, but with the exception of Masa, didn’t. And in Masa’s case the Halo wouldn’t have helped, probably. So in a handful of examples in which nobody got hurt, the Halo might have helped them be more not hurt.

        Further, nobody has shown the fans at least, the testing that’s been done on deformed, cut, or broken Halo units. What happens to a Halo when another car slams into it at 120 kmph? Does it become a projectile? A spear?

        So it seems like an ugly, hastily-conceived-and-implemented solution to a problem that may not really exist in F1 and that wouldn’t have saved Jules Bianchi, wouldn’t have helped Maria de Villota, and probably wouldn’t have made a difference for Massa.

        I don’t want anyone to die or get hurt, I just don’t see that the Halo solves any problems, and it’s frustrating to see so many manifest problems with the sport go unsolved while this device, which wouldn’t have helped in any of the ACTUAL serious injuries in recent F1, is mandated.

        1. Completely agree

      2. @keithcollantine, very true. There is always a trade-off, I never said anything to the contrary. A safety improvement comes when the upsides are greater than the downsides. Now, since the FIA went through the trouble of testing 1 million small object scenarios and publish the upsides, I’d like them to publish the downsides, if any, as well.

  6. Marshals don’t tend turn cars? Think of the Alonso roll… they just watched as he crawled out! I think even with a driver stuck in wreckage they’d not turn the car for fear of worsening any injury until the medical car arrives.

    I’m also concerned about object deflection. The study quoted says 17% deflected away from the driver and 0 without. What about debris being deflected towards the driver because of the halo? That’s bound to increase due to the surface area – debris that may have been travelling with a trajectory from track to air box could now impact the halo and be deflected to the head or chest.

    This halo is a knee jerk reaction to a legal problem, not a driver safety solution.

    1. situation is different when a car is on fire and there is immediate danger. No fire, leave the driver in place until the medical guys arrive to get him out without risking further injury. With a fire, you have to take that risk, because he’s dead if you don’t. Same is true if you’re on the scene of an accident on the street.

      I know it’s possible, but i can’t remember the last time an F1 crash resulted in a fire.

      Just like a seat belt could trap you in a fire, it’s far more likely that it would save your life in the hundred other situations that are more likely to happen, so you wear one when you drive.

      1. In the fire situation, the seatbelt is released with a single press, which usually means even the fire isn’t a problem for it. That’s not really the case with Halo – though I also think the entrapment threat is overplayed. As long as someone comes up with a solution for extricating a driver with suspected spinal cord injuries (the current extrication seat will need to be modified for a Halo situation), extrication should work just fine.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      21st July 2017, 13:34

      “This halo is a knee jerk reaction to a legal problem, not a driver safety solution.”

      Very good point there.

      1. Hardly knee jerk as it has been studied and tested by actual experts, scientists, and engineers as have other options. Hardly not a driver safety issue, as it will certainly prevent large debris from hitting a driver.

        In my opinion this only looks knee jerk because people from their armchairs are convinced there must be something better, yet this is what the experts have come up with that doesn’t require F1 spending literally billions to redesign their cars from the ground up and completely changing the face of F1 at huge cost and risk of losing the audience. The alternative to looking knee jerk is to risk F1 as an entity for the sake of deflecting small debris that has never been the concern.

  7. Halo doesn’t look as bad when painted to blend in, like in the Williams pic above.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      21st July 2017, 13:01

      Exactly. To me it looks by far the best on the Williams. I personally would even say it will be easy to get used to seeing it. They will work on it to make it match the other cars better then I think it will look at leased reasonable. At the moment it looks quite out of place on all cars but the Williams. Once the cars have had these on for a year, we possibly won’t mind them. I already think they are better than several of the 2014 car noses! Torro Roso and Caterham looked truly terrible to me.

  8. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    21st July 2017, 12:08

    They will be able to dive a lot slower when no one is watching

  9. By the law of statistics anything greater than zero is an improvement. 17% isn’t a glowing statistic on small items being deflected away but again it is greater than zero. The fact of the matter is that the Halo devise might not save a drivers life in as much as it might not even be ‘used’ during the first few seasons. The Halo may even cause some complications, e.g a car being rolled over, but random occurrences should not negate, or lessen, the grand scheme of things. We’ve seen a few cars roll over and some (but very few) of which have stopped upside down but we have seen far more cars being buried into a tyre barriers and more bits of carbon fibre nearly hitting a driver. The Halo isn’t just to stop wheels hitting a driver. It includes this but anything coming at a driver head on does not have much resistance over than perhaps hitting the heightened side areas (remember the uproar around them in the mid 1990’s). Having the Halo on the cars might seem a safety first approach, an approach that may seem rushed, an approach which goes against the DNA of the Sport (which, by the way, has mutated so often to draw a link to the original ancestor to modern day would be difficult), but it is an approach that may save lives. Can we all seriously sit at home or in a grandstand and watch drivers hurtling around at great speeds and want them to risk their lives purely because we want to cheer? This isn’t a Roman Amphitheatre. Risk often does not outweigh rewards. Will the drivers be slower with the device? No. Will drivers think twice about overtaking somebody? No. Will the drivers jump at the chance for increased head protection, if not publicly then privately? Yes. The Halo device is ugly and it does nothing to add to the looks of the cars but it will save a life at some point. The life may be a Father, a Mother, a Son, a Daughter or any other familial term but it is still somebodies life. I for one welcome the Halo device. Long may we never stop trying to improve the sport.

  10. Alex McFarlane
    21st July 2017, 12:25

    So they tested it in theory, it works, they tested it practice and there were doubts, but they’re going to implement it anyway. Seems about right for F1 these days.

    1. The main doubts seem to be about the aesthetics. I think it is mainly armchair posters who have their ways of deciding this isn’t safe enough because it doesn’t prevent every little thing hitting a driver, which was never the intention. Drivers have been able to be hit with every little thing for decades, yet have their been any fatalities? But there have indeed been fatalities in open wheel/cockpit formats even in recent years from larger objects hitting drivers head on and from above. If the halo prevents 17% of small items hitting the driver that’s a bonus. If a small item gets deflected by the halo toward the driver that’s going to be quite rare and that item will have lost some energy due to the contact with the halo, and again, the small items have not been the main concern. If it was, they indeed would have perfected a working screen and not worried about large objects coming down on drivers.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        21st July 2017, 13:12

        @Robbie – It’s not just aesthetics – Charlie has stated above that for items smaller than a wheel, it has only worked in less than 1 in 5 tests. I find it hard to believe that the aeroscreen or shield wouldn’t have drastically better results for smaller items?

        They obviously have their own problems (visual distortion, cleaning etc) but surely those issues could be solved? I don’t see how you can solve the issue of the halo not being effective for smaller objects because it’s design involves a big hole for objects to pass through.

        1. @petebaldwin As I say, I don’t think small debris has ever been the concern. To say the halo design involves a big hole is misleading, almost like they have made a funnel for small debris. Not so. The halo is meant for the far more dangerous large objects, and if it stops 17% of small objects that’s a bonus. A shield has more issues, including changing the aero of the cars. Name a series that races in the wet and has some sort of wind screen that doesn’t have a wiper blade?

          1. petebaldwin (@)
            21st July 2017, 13:50

            @Robbie – So who in recent years would have been saved by the halo? Not Bianchi. Not Massa…. Arguably Alonso’s crash at Spa where he had a car drive over where the halo will now be could have been worse. What would the halo have done – break and litter the cockpit with debris or launch the other car further into the air?

            Why aren’t they trying to stop smaller debris? Do they not consider that as an issue that needs immediate attention as opposed to stopping wheels which they have decided needs to be done next year?

            People can make stats say whatever they want – saying the halo deflected 17% of items thrown at it (for example) sounds OK but in which direction did these items deflect and at what velocity? Did they go far enough to fly into the stands? Would they go straight into the path of another car? What about the remaining 83% of items that weren’t deflected away? What percentage of these items were re-directed towards the driver that would have otherwise missed them?

          2. As Whiting suggests…Campos and Moore and I’ll add Surtees and Wilson.

            They obviously don’t think small debris is a big issue or in fact they would be prepared to spend the billions and risk changing the face of F1 that a working windscreen on such a narrow cockpit would entail. In fact they cannot do it on such a narrow cockpit. Can’t even add a wiper blade I would think. People can make stats say whatever they want, and you are trying to come up with extreme circumstances that just don’t apply, such as that small debris is the concern. Gotta go right now…will join back in the conversation as soon as I can.

          3. petebaldwin (@)
            21st July 2017, 14:32

            Sure but you’ve listed 4 drivers who died in series that won’t have additional head protection next year….

            Who in F1 has been hurt in an accident where the consequences would have been reduced by running with the halo? As I said above, I can think of situations (Alonso’s) where the halo may have made things worse but I can’t think of an incident in F1 where the halo would have helped. There must be some…..?

            For me, it looks like the problem appears to affect other series more than it does F1 so how can those series be allowed to run next year without a similar Safety Thong Device (or STD for short). Is it OK to lose drivers providing they aren’t competing in the top series?

          4. Ok so if you find it strange that F1 is reacting to incidents that have occurred in other series, then I’m not sure why you are so adamant that they somehow deal with small debris in F1 which I think is much less necessary and much more challenging?

  11. A screen with a central pilon as with the Halo has not been considered? I know the opposition to the Shield is the curvature making it hard to see, but the Aeroscreen did not have such problems as far as I remember, while it was considered too weak. Has a mix between the two solutions been evaluated?

    1. Aeroscreen has not been tested since mid-2016, where it was decided a previous version was less capable than Halo.

      1. There’s keeping the aeroscreen clean, there’s distortion of view, and there’s the fact that it does nothing for the main culprit being large objects coming down on drivers. There’s also the change in the aerodynamics of the car with a windscreen that would mean redesigning cars vs a far less expensive option to be able to relatively bolt something on.

    2. The aero screen did not clear the impact tests initially, and they increased the thickness of it to cope, but that already showed some of the same distortion issues that stopped the Shield solution most recently @fixy.

      Fact is, that to avoid the impacts of what nearly killed Massa, they added the reinforced strip to make sure no object would get between the helmet and the visor, the helmet is the protection against small objects. The Halo protects primarily against large objects (a complete wheel) and offers some protection against smaller objects too, so it still improves the situation in 1/6th of cases even there. Not too shabby IMO.

      A screen has issues with distortion and with solving rain, fogging up and buildup of dirt, debris, chunks of tyre etc. None of those were solved yet (for a car on a track)

      1. Oh, and as someone already mentioned earlier, one of the reasons to stop the development of the Aeroscreen was that it blocked airflow towards the engine inlet too, meaning it would probably mean quite a bit of redesign to the screen or to the whole car.

  12. They tested the halo so much and gave it every chance. The 2 screen options had a few quick tests and seem to be discounted straight away depite potentially being even safer and as an aside better looking. Why did they not attempt to develop the screens a bit rather than a quick initial test. They wanted the halo straight away and gave half hearted attempts with the screens just to make it look like a considered choice.

  13. Michael Brown (@)
    21st July 2017, 13:02

    Visibility with LMP1 cars is awful. The wheel arches block your view.

    1. Distortion, massive A-posts, and indeed the wheel arches yeah.

  14. Look on the bright side, it would look ugly, which might force broadcaster to approach how they film the cars differently, and stop with this angles that make the cars look slow. Steady cameras will be back, because most of the fans don’t want to see the halo for extensive periods of time

    1. The view from a camera mounted in the “modesty panel” part of the thong would be interesting.

  15. petebaldwin (@)
    21st July 2017, 13:05

    “We conclude that 17 per cent of the time it will deflect something from the driver – as opposed to none without the Halo.”

    So more than 4 times out of 5, it failed? That’s not… ummm… great really is it?

    So a few years into the process and we have a horrifically ugly design that makes the cars look cheap and only works less than a fifth of the time. Well done F1….. :S

    1. @petebaldwin Remember that 17% figure refers to small objects only, not the big stuff.

      1. And I reiterate, I don’t think small debris has ever been the concern. I think the halo is the most acceptable because it is open and therefore doesn’t harm vision to any detriment, it doesn’t affect the cars significantly aerodynamically (although it still will cause some redesign I’m sure) and it will work to solve the real issue of large objects hitting drivers head on and/or from above.

  16. so it will catch 17% of small debris?

    Let’s turn that statistic around, it will let 83% of small debris through to hit the drivers head.


    1. someone approaches you and tells you, we are going to shoot at you thousands of nails, you have two options. You either stand in front of them with 100% chances of getting hit, or you can have safety thong on your face and the chances of getting hit reduce to 83%, which one would you take?

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        21st July 2017, 14:03

        @johnmilk – Fair point. Let me flip it around though….

        No-one approaches you and tells you anything. You live your life like everyone else does fully aware that gun crime does exist and that it is possible that whilst walking through a town, someone could jump out in front of you with a gun. It probably won’t happen you never know…. What do you do? Wear a safety thong at all times just in case?

        1. @petebaldwin if you want to compare it with a real life scenario, at least pick one that makes sense. On my normal day-to-day routine I wouldn’t, but maybe if I was a policeman I would, or if I lived in a dangerous place, I would wear it too.

          What you are saying is to use a helmet while driving, doesn’t make sense, but if I’m driving a go-kart I would put on one.

          Should I also stop wearing a seat belt since I never had a car crash as well?

          The halo is effective for big objects, and while being so it also improves safety (while on a relatively small scale) for impacts with small debris, so I don’t really see what is the problem here.

      2. If somebody said – we are going to shoot at you with a thousand nails, wear this nail proof vest and only 83% of them will get through, I would choose not to bother wearing the heavy, cumbersome nail proof vest.

        83% of deadly is still deadly.

        1. if you ready carefully, I said that the chances of getting it are 83%, not that 83% will hit you. Still that is a mental image that I will have trouble forgetting

    2. Right…17% less small debris that has not been the concern anyway. But probably 100% of the tires and big body pieces will be kept away from the drivers’ heads. And those are the dangerous bits. Aside from Massa having an injury, name fatalities of drivers hit with small debris…now name drivers who have died from large debris hitting them, even in recent years. Small debris is not the problem.

      1. Robbie, this is why the wheels are now tethered. That issue has been brought to acceptable risk already. The halo is not needed to mitigate that risk.

        1. @matt Hey I’m fine with that. I’d prefer they not use the halo. But obviously the experts don’t think tethers are enough. And obviously they still want the halo for large objects because tires do still come untethered, and other big body pieces could hit them too as they could also hit walls as Whiting points out. And obviously they don’t feel an overwhelming need to add a screen that deals with small debris.

          I’m sure I sound like I like and want the halo, and that is not the case, but I do find much of the criticism surprising in that I don’t believe this is knee jerk, and I don’t accept that the scientists and engineers are incompetent like a lot of posters seem to think.

          Is this the best they can do? Yes I think it is without them drastically changing the face of F1 as we know it at great financial and potentially viewership cost if F1 cars as we know them start to look more like WEC cars as that is the only way to accommodate a functioning screen or enclosed cockpit.

          As to the conversation above, probably more people will be killed this year by guns in any one major city in the US than have ever been killed in the history of F1. More will die downhill skiing…crossing the street…certainly driving domestic cars etc etc. So I think F1 is extremely safe relatively and if the halo can easily and affordable add some more safety without affecting the face of F1 nor close racing, then so be it. It’s their bat and their ball. I can’t imagine some of the great duels we’ve seen so far his year being any less exciting with halos on the cars.

  17. They will be 100% safe from my gaze.

  18. The awkwardness and limited effect of the device may hasten the day that people view open cockpits and open wheels as simply anachronistic.

  19. It does nothing to protect a driver from the most common threat of smaller parts & crash debris. The odds of a wheel or large chunk coming at the driver are very low possibility. Plus, the driver has to stare at that stupid vertical bar directly in front.

    IndyCar will test their windshield soon. It has been in development for a year and a half. It will look good, (more like a Top Fuel dragster windshield) and not have the distortion problems of the F1 Shield which is too narrow in front and too severely raked.

    There is your solution.

    1. The most common threat? Small debris? Whose been injured or killed from small debris? More have been from wheels and large body parts than from small debris. Indycars cockpits are no wider than F1’s so it will certainly be interesting to see their solution. But as you say after a year and a half they are only about to start testing so it will be interesting to hear their findings. How they’ll deal with keeping it clean, distortion of view etc etc.

    2. The point about Indycar is very important. All the reports* coming out of the sport indicate they’ve found solutions to the problems with the shield concept and their solution has been designed with the overall aesthetics of the 2018 aero-kit in mind. It would be a huge embarrasment for F1 if they violate the open-cockpit nature of Grand Prix racing with a montrously ugly safety thong whilst a so-called lesser series manages to find a solution which is more elegant, more effective and still in keeping with the traditions of the sport. It’s now likely that Indycar will be the world’s leading open-cockpit racing formula next season.

      *For those who haven’t already seen them the comments from IndyCar competition president Jay Frye after the Halo announcement are worth reading.

      1. @ads21 Thanks for that link. Sounds good on paper but sounds like lots of testing to do yet too. One advantage they have is that the series is a fraction of the cost of F1, so integrating their concept to a new look for 2018 is much much more doable/affordable. Most people, I think, aren’t all that thrilled with the looks of the cars as they are, so change is probably a good thing for them. They had changed to something much worse when Tony George broke the series apart. Like large rental go-karts.

        To say that F1 may be embarrassed by whatever Indycar does, or that Indycar will become the top open cockpit series is quite silly. F1 is on a completely different level and it is far far more complex for F1 than for Indycar to implement this. That said, I’m sure F1 insiders will be paying close attention to what Indycar comes up with, but since F1 has no intentions of becoming a cheap spec series I doubt they’ll be threatened about being surpassed in global audience etc etc. Many (most) people don’t want to see any device added for extra protection in F1 so I don’t know why they’d be so thrilled with whatever Indycar does that they will think it is now a better series than F1.

        1. I’m not suggesting Indycar could compete in terms of audience or standard of driving or anything like that, just that if F1 is no longer open-cockpit (I don’t think the halo is consistent with that) and Indycar remains open-cockpit then it becomes the leading open cockpit series in the world by default. Maybe being open-cockpit doesn’t matter, but I tend to think it’s more important to the appeal fo the sport than people a lot of people realise.

          1. @ads21 Fair comment. I do think a halo’ed car is still an open cockpit car though. No windshield, no roof, no side windows…sounds pretty open to me.

      2. To that statement actually just shows that the IndyCar series understands why the FIA felt it needed to do this now, and want to stress that they are working on their own solution – with the target to incorporate it into their redesign for 2018.

        But since they have not track tested anything yet – remember the Halo, Aeroscreen AND shield had also been tested, simulated etc before getting onto track – I seriously doubt they will be ready in time, or being as effective. They have been working on ideas for far more than a year and a half, since serious head injuries and deaths from debris has been even more of an issue in the series than they have been in F1. It just shows that a good solution is not easy to find.

    3. has to stare at that stupid vertical bar directly in front.

      Nothing about your actual main point in your comment but…..Actually no

  20. If the FIA can justify the Halo for F1, why has it not been pushed down to the lesser formula.?
    Are we going to see all open wheel cars, GP2 etc. running around with a Halo or equivalent.? Pretty tough to justify not adding it to the rules if it is “necessary” for F1.
    Sprint cars and some sports racers have effectively full roll cages. This is really not much different.

    1. Good question. Perhaps it has to do with the higher speeds of F1 making them more urgent for those cars? Maybe F1 will be the proving ground and we will indeed see them adapted to other open wheel series’ under FIA? Not sure.

      1. F1 is a constructors championship, meaning the onus and cost of building the cars to fit the spec is on the teams.

        Pretty much every other open wheel championship is a spec-series, meaning the costs have to go to whoever pays to design those chassis – my guess is the promoters & owners baulked when told ‘you have to redesign all your cars’.

        1. Yeah, not to mention cars in lower tier series often only get an overhaul every few years @optimaximal, @robbie. For most of these series a couple of thousand extra for a car is a huge issue, not to mention having to get the whole field refurbished.

          I think that once F1 gets the Halo ironed out and up and running (and maybe, maybe the IndyCar 2018 car shows their great solution? wouldn’t bet on that one yet), we can see some work (using F1 level resources) going into developing a standard, relatively cheap, device/design that can/might/will be introduced to lower tier series over the next few years, once those series introduce new iterations of their cars.

          Oh, and it is not true that the FIA “can’t justify the Halo for F1” Ian P.

  21. While I agree that the Halo is ugly (at least in its current state, hopefully it will be latter properly incorporated into the car design), I see no problem with it. I have been following F1 for more than twenty years and changes like this are just a normal part of the sport. Plus maybe with the abysmal helmet design of the past ten years we have already lost part of the sport – apart from a few helmets like Hamilton’s it is pretty hard to recognize the drivers. Sure, I’d like to see the drivers actually working at the wheel, but looking any footage pre-1995 makes me cringe due to the drivers being so exposed.

    And while the Shield might have been dropped after just a single on-track test, do people actually believe that this was the only time it has been tested in some form or another? I find it hard to believe that a sport so technical as F1 and an organisation so big as the FIA would just bolt something random on a car for one lap and decided that it’s no good. Head protection has been researched actively for 23 years, and I definitely trust the clever engineers more than random commenters on the internet. Then again, we did have that horrible qualifying format last year even though everyone was against it and said that it would fail, and they still went forward with it…

    1. People will get used to the halo so quick in the same way they got used to lmp1 cars being closed cockpit, especially since the device is a positive and not a negative. If this device was used in the last 10 years in major open wheel series, several lives would have been saved, and the racing would have been ecactly same. Racing fans that say this is too far and wont watch f1 anymore- good riddence to them, dont come back, the sport will be safer and will get new fans anyway.

    2. I expect that somebody somewhere tested the shield, most probably the person who designed it.

      The thing is, with the teams being subject to so little testing that drivers cannot even practice outside of a race weekend, who knows what the test involved, it was not published or publicized

  22. The halo WILL NOT diminsh racing but WILL improve safety… As for cosmetics… f1 cars have always been substance over style.

  23. The white Williams halo looks OK.

  24. I am against halo. Let see the advantages and disadvantages of halo.
    Advantages: 1, It can protect the driver’s head against big objects till 20kg and 225kph.
    2, Halo is 17% safer than nothing against small objects. (in head protection)

    Disadvantages: The halo can cause newer risks and there are lot of questions.
    1, What about if the halo break? 2, Will it take more time for drivers to get out of cars (in case of fire)? 3, How does halo affect visibility? 4, What’s the weight of the halo? 5, Is it allowed teams to change/develop halo or not? (which would be the good one?) (6. It looks bad.)

    1. Well, otherwise worded, no driver should ever be fatally injured from large objects hitting him. The halo will be at least as strong as the roll bars are. Driver extraction is not a problem. Visibility is not a problem. The halo will have some weight to it that will heighten the centre of gravity of the cars. Not sure if the teams can develop their own halo but methinks it will be standard and not for aerodynamic gain. The looks? Yeah does anybody like it, let alone love it? No, but we don’t like or love seeing tragic incidents either, especially when it is an innocent driver minding his own business that suddenly has a tire coming down on top of him.

      1. @robbie, how many times has a tire hit someone in Formula One? Once; Brambilla in Monza, 1978, who suffered a concussion. One incident out of 24,000 F1 GP entries (half of which have been with fully exposed drivers’ heads).

        Formula One was all about developing cars every inch of which is designed for aerodynamic purposes. Up until the stepped and thumb noses came into play, F1 cars have been the perfection of aerodynamic purity. If the halo is finally introduced, F1 loses its DNA completely.

        1. @serg33 Yeah for sure in F1, but the fact that it has happened in Indycar recently still raises concerns over the chance of this happening in any open cockpit series.

          I certainly disagree that F1 loses it’s DNA completely with this device, and I also think that it may look better now that it has been brought in and the teams will be incorporating it into their 2018 cars. All I know is that for me there is still plenty of DNA in F1, and it is only going to get better post-BE for there to be any concern over F1 losing it’s DNA. If you can tell me that a duel like we saw against SV and MV or SV and VB will be less exciting with halos on the car, then sure it’s lost some DNA, but that won’t happen. Come to think of it DRS has taken more from the DNA imho than the halo, and DRS is going to be phased out eventually, thus adding back some DNA. 😉

  25. As a keen dirt racing fan for 50 years and having watched the development from no driver protection open cockpit contraption to a car designed with the roll cage as a fully integrated structural asset of the chassis, I see the halo as just the beginning of a process to integrate driver protection into a proper chassis design. It will get better looking and most importantly, offer better protection to the driver through design evolution. Dirt trackers started driver protection with a simple rollover hoop. Now the “cage” offers intrusion and rollover protection where even high impacts protect the driver.

    Spectators don’t harp back to an earlier time when drivers were more exposed. Close and spectacular racing is what they come for, with modern “caged” driver protection it means as a family sport it grows and grows in participation and viewer ship.

    And there in lies the problem for F1. Close and spectacular racing is missing. Get back to close quater racing and the fans will flock back, irrespective if the driver is “caged”.

    1. Agreed, and if I’m disappointed in anything it is that Liberty and Brawn have only just started their tenure and are saying all the right things yet too many people seem to think this is still the BE days and that things are only getting worse or no better. Where’s the patience? Especially when it all sounds so positive going forward sans-BE. The racing will get closer. DRS will go away. Smaller teams will have a better chance at thriving and growing. Some good old venues will be retained.

    2. Exactly Gerrit! I am glad that F1 did come up with something that seems to offer a step forward, and yeah, they will look better once they get properly integrated and indeed, this will be a step towards finding a solution at all levels of open wheel/open cockpit racing.

      And yes, I also look forward to seeing Brawn et all from FOM getting together with the engineers to design a better concept to improve the actual racing from 2020 onwards, since these current cars look pretty good, but clearly close racing was not the focus with the current iteration of the rules.

  26. John Toad (@)
    21st July 2017, 19:55

    Answer: 2.61%

  27. Halo, Goodbye.
    What little interest in F1 I have been holding on to has just disappeared.
    No refueling, DRS, haphazard stewarding, fuel conservation racing, 6 cyl engines, ugly cars, tire gimmicks, and now the halo.
    F1 has become just another race series full of stultifying gimmicks.
    But that’s just me.

    1. Lewisham Milton
      21st July 2017, 21:52

      Go down to your local gas station and watch for two hours, then.
      No halos, no fuel conservation racing (or racing of any kind), all sorts of cars with different amounts of cylinders, plenty of tires without the gimmicks, no stewards, very little DRS and all the refueling you could ever wish for.

      1. That actually sounds more exciting than watching F1.
        As to the merits of Splat’s post, I find it hard to contend with any of them even if they are a little harsh.

  28. How bad is it going to mess with airflow and how many winglets can you fit on!

    1. @diogenese – the halo will mess with the airflow much, much less than the windshield, which is why it was selected over the screen concept. At least in the short term.

      For the longer term, the fully enclosed driverless cockpit design will support multiple levels of sponsorship options. Keeping the drivers in the garage with the engineers will ensure both better safety and easier driver management. 2025 F1 – The Pinnacle of Full Scale RC Racing.

  29. So is the deaign details of the Halo set in regulations, or can it be modified for aeodynamic effect?

  30. According to a source inside a Renault, teams are working on a DRS Halo.

  31. Trying to win a war of words is futile when you’re talking to a brick wall. It’ll either happen, or it won’t… Just got to wait and see.

    A closer series both on track and through the field will make all the difference, not a funny looking safety device.

  32. Safest rule possible: Drive slow.

  33. Are there any experienced F1 engineers commenting here? I thought not, but there do seem to be more than a few graduates from the Brighton College of Fashion Design holding forth.

    Like a few other posters, the halo does not bother me at all and if it brings some driver protection to the party, I’m all for it plus it looks kind of funky. Ron has spoken.

  34. This is the stupidest thing in sport.what if a car burns and tumbles commingg to rest upside down.It’s harder to get out.wouldn’t have stopped bianchi fatal crash .doesn’t make anu difference in case of wheels flying around because the wheels are attached to frame after the semna crash.doesn’t change anything but there should be a new word invented for how stupid it looks.Î think i’m done with f1.

  35. And it’s not the cars that are’s the stupidity of the organisers that killed bianchi by letting that tractor on track in those conditions.senna also died because of the stupidity of the organisers because two heavy crashes happened at the same corner and nothing was done.

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