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Most open-wheel series will have Halo by 2020

2018 F1 season

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The Halo device which is being introduced for the 2018 F1 season will be ubiquitous in worldwide motor sport within two years.

Formula Two and some Formula Three series will also use Halo for the first time this year. David Lapworth, technical director for Prodrive and safety advisor to the FIA, says rolling out the new forward head protection structure to junior categories quickly has been a priority.

“If we can get things like the Halo to be adopted, even in the very focused area of Formula One, that is an achievement,” Lapworth told the FIA’s Auto magazine. “Involving people from the different disciplines in the process can only help. The more people help spread the word and convince the doubters about the science and the work that has gone into it, the better.”

In the research which led to Halo the FIA considered how fatal accidents in championships outside F1 might have been prevented, such as those of Henry Surtees in Formula Two and Justin Wilson in IndyCar.

“We need to recognise that the roll-out is as important as the pioneering,” said Lapworth. “It’s great to have the top-level formulae like F1 being able to engineer new solutions and push the boundaries, but in terms of saving lives the roll-out is where the big numbers come.”

“There are 22 or 24 guys in an F1 race at the weekend, but there are thousands racing in different categories worldwide. So that’s the area that is getting more focused through the discussions we’re having. Let’s consider not just what F1 needs, but how can we make this universal and how can we make it happen as quickly as possible.”

IndyCar, which is not an FIA-run championship, is considering its own cockpit head protection solution but has said it will not use Halo. Formula E intends to introduce the Halo on for its 2018/19 season and most series should have it by 2020.

However Lapworth says there is still progress to be made in accelerating the introduction of new safety technologies to junior championships.

“If there’s an area where we’re getting better, but we can get even better, it would be in reducing the time from the seed of the idea to the implementation. And not just the implementation in F1, but in all the disciplines.”

“Things like the HANS [Head And Neck Safety] device, which we now take for granted 12 years on, probably took 10 years to get from the first tests to widespread adoption in motor sport disciplines in every country.”

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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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  • 66 comments on “Most open-wheel series will have Halo by 2020”

        1. Very good.

          1. Very bad

            #NoHalo

            1. Swapnil mankame
              3rd April 2021, 1:19

              Still think the same?

      1. Indeed terrific news. What happened to Henry Surtees and Jules Bianchi and María de Villota, that needs to stop.

        1. @rahnarlsmenves – Absolutely. I remember seeing a replay of Justin Wilson’s horrific accident recently, and it was heart-wrenching.

          The halo might not be the perfect solution from a safety or aesthetic perspective, but it’s what we’ve got.

          More importantly, this is not something that’s being pushed through because of any vested interest by a specific team or party. So I’m inclined to accept that it is the best solution given the other constraints that the FIA have considered.

          If and when a better solution is found and proven, I’d be happy to wave goodbye to the halo.

          1. Carlos Alfonzo
            2nd January 2018, 13:15

            This is very true.

          2. @Phylyp “this is not something that’s being pushed through because of any vested interest by a specific team or party.”

            What are you going on about!? The weak minded bureaucrats at the FIA and their lawyers are pushing this through because they see a risk to themselves. It has nothing to do with safety.

            1. How is it a risk to themselves? Are the weak minded bureaucrats the ones driving the cars? Or are you saying they are at risk if a driver dies in an FIA approved car? If so, how in the hell is that not about safety?!

            2. @rahnarlsmenves Its even worse, their career depends on it.

          3. Justin’s accident was a one in a million chance of happening, and the piece of bodywork that hit him came straight down on top of his head. I don’t think the Halo would have saved him.

            1. The FIA says an accident like that is exactly what Halo is designed to prevent so it would be a failure of monumental proportions – and likely a horrific tragedy – if what you say turns out to be true:

              https://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2017/08/02/new-fia-video-shows-chose-halo-2018/

            2. Justin was travelling horizontally way faster than the the nosecone was travelling vertically, so the impact was close to horizontal. No way that the nosecone ‘came straight down on top of his head’.

        2. The only way to stop Motorsport deaths is to stop Motorsports. Don’t worry your little self though … that’s coming eventually I’m sure.

        3. Yep …..It’s pretty certain now that we’ll end up
          with drivers fully enclosed in a survival cage that
          will automatically eject in the event of a major
          collision. Or something pretty close to that sort
          of concept. And yes, there have been some major
          tragedies in F1’s history, but the risks are being
          very gradually being totally eliminated.

          And therin lies the great conflict. I’m about to state
          things that are known and understood and which
          are very gradually being eliminated simply because
          the financial and risk-avoidance pressures are becoming
          utterly dominant. The financial structures of western
          culture will very gradually eliminate all physical risk
          to anyone involved in motor sport in any way.
          And as we travel down that pre-ordained road, the sport
          we all love will simply die because it will have become
          utterly risk free.

          I’m quite aware that the realities of the future I am
          predicting will raise the hackles of the majority of
          readers here, who cannot and will not understand
          that high speed racing in highly developed machines
          are at the very limits of physical and mechanical
          endurance and are inherently dangerous, is the prime
          reason why we watch these latter-day gladiators daring
          to do what few humans could ever hope to do.

          If F1 is made completely safe, F1 will simply die.

    1. While limited, a few guys were running roll cages in Formula Fords in the 1970s

    2. As there is still resistance to the halo in F1, I think it would have been better to say some form of driver protection will be in use in all open wheel series rather than specifically pointing to the halo. I still think a more ‘elegant’ solution will be arrived at in F1 as the appearance of the car is apparently very important to a lot of people.

      1. I would like to know if these were the same people who were against the lowering of the nose back for safety reasons, back when we have the ironing board cars (that look horrible).

      2. Yes, it would be nice to have something that added to the car, but then we have open wheels, and open wheels don’t add to the appearance of a car, but very few people complain about that.

        1. Unfortunately the links don’t work properly. Wanted to show the 1996 Ferrari and the 1998 Ferrari.

    3. So soon, Indycar will look and sound better than F1 and has more competitive racing? F1 is going to be in trouble if this is another bad year with the sport disappearing off free TV next year…

      1. Bit of fear mongering I think. At least for me anyway, I don’t think Indycars will look better than F1 cars just because of the halo, and Indycar will have something on their cars too eventually, the more competitive component is because of the spec nature of the series which most F1 fans seem to abhor, and Indycar has a tiny fraction of the audience F1 does. Indycar would love to have F1’s kind of ‘troubles’ which are all fixable, while Indycar’s main struggle is marketing and audience.

        1. Indy car has the same problem as F1 (and most motorsports) falling audiences across the board

          1. With about 400mill viewers still, and new mangagement in charge, I give F1 a much bigger chance of growing audience back than Indycar with it’s tiny fraction of F1’s audience. Don’t ge me wrong I follow Indycar too, but their market is just so so much smaller. I do wish and hope for the best for that series though.

          2. BigJoe, as I understand it, IndyCar has slightly increased their viewing figures in recent years, though that is mainly because they’re starting from a fairly low base and couldn’t really get that much worse (the average number of viewers per race, according to IndyCar, was about 500,000 per race in 2017).

      2. For the first time last year I followed IndyCar more closely than F1. I feel this is a trend that is set to continue.

    4. Sportscar prototypes with closed cockpits already look much better than formula cars. I hope the Halo helps to speed up the process of formula cars dying out (or being converted to closed cockpits, covered wheels and normal tyres). Formula cars are an anachronism, just like balloon tyres or grid girls. If someone wants to look at 70s-style cars with all the macho paraphernalia, there are always videos or historic car races. Onwards! It’s 2018.

      1. To be fair, sportscar prototypes have always looked better than formula cars, even since formula cars stopped allowing sportscar prototypes on the grid.

    5. I won’t pretend to like the idea aesthetically, but if it saves one life, then it’s worth it; which is something nobody can deny. Danger is part of Formula One, but needless death should not be. I don’t believe this would have saved Jules Bianchi, but I think it would likely have saved Justin Wilson and Henry Surtees, as well as potentially lessening the blow to Massa.

      I’ve seen some artists impressions of how teams could incorporate the halo to their livery and I have to say I actually quite like some of them, though I doubt the teams themselves will produce anything so tasteful. The car unveilings will be interesting this year, and we’ll get used to it, as we did with the big changes in 1998, 2009 and last year.

      1. @ben-n Maybe I’m just stubborn (actually there’s no ‘maybe’ about it) but I never got used to the car changes from 1998 or 2009, I always thought they looked wrong until they fixed them last year. Odd noses notwithstanding.

    6. I find, a bit to my own surprise, that every time I see a picture now of a car with a halo on it, I’m already getting used to it. Do I love it? No. Do I mind it? No.

      1. @robbie Ditto, I find myself adjusting very quickly to these type of changes, it will normalise over the course of the season for most fans. There will still be a small section of fans ardently and vociferously opposing the Halo addition wailing about the death of F1 and how they have already ‘cancelled’ their subscription or won’t be watching any live races in 2018 and data will indicate any effect on viewer numbers will be negligible by the end of the season.

    7. @robbie Same here.

      It barely register’s for me now to the point where when somebody was running it during FP1 in Abu Dhabi last year I didn’t really think about it until one of the commentators mentioned it after the car had been on screen for a while.

      It was the same for me with the 2009 changes to the wing dimensions & the finger noses of 2014, I quickly got used to them & by the 2nd race weekend I didn’t really notice the changes until they were brought up by somebody.

      I think that i’ve seen so many things change over the last 29 odd years in terms of the looks of not just F1 cars but the various other categories I follow that I just get used to things super quickly now.

    8. Stop pretending just close the cockpit already. This is as laughable as the dual pipe exhaust for “better sound”.

      Screaming open wheelers apperently are a thing of the past even tho many still hold it dear. These middleground solutions are just a joke however.

      1. Wheels are still open

      2. Perhaps you could propose your solution as to how to close the cockpit in and make it work? You won’t be able to without turning the cars into WEC prototype style cars, so…

        So in other words this is hardly the middle ground of anything. It is added safety for the drivers for large debris pcs hitting them on the head, without costing very much money nor changing F1 entirely.

      3. @Gabriel (@rethla)

        +1000

        Totally agree with this. This ridiculous half measure is cowardice. Too cowardly to support open cockpit racing too cowardly to close the cockpit. Typical FIA. Disgusting.

    9. The good news here is that lower series of racing will be adopting a solid safety measure, and the dividend is that F1 paved the way. Are these haloes ugly? Maybe. Useful? Let’s wait and see.

    10. When we eventually see the first accident that involves interaction with the halo I think a lot of people are going to change their opinions.

      The cars next year are going to be even faster and the drivers a little more confident and used to them. It’s inevitable we’ll see a collision like Grosjean/Alonso 2012 or Raikkonen/Alonso 2014 in the next few years and when we all stop to consider if whichever driver is saved by it would have been worth the sacrifice for some arbitrary and subjective aesthetic quality there will be far fewer Luddite’s crying that the sport isn’t bloodthirsty enough for them any more.

      1. @Philip (@philipgb)

        What if someone is killed through a high speed racing accident not involving the Halo? I guess since you aren’t suggesting we slow cars or stop racing altogether YOU are the blood thirsty monster. You are a total tool. Go back to watching competitive basket weaving so you can feel safe and leave the racing fans alone.

        1. It seems like a decent enough comment imo. Most all crashes I can think of in recent years where drivers are seriously hurt or killed in open wheeled series are from head injuries. F1 has felt with cockpit safety very well otherwise to the effect that major crashes in F1 cars leave the driver in relatively good shape. As you know they test the safety cells every year.
          Head protection was an oversight for a long time. A compromise is perfectly natural when such demands as safety, public perception, implementation in lower categories and historical formula appearance are concerned.
          No question current F1 will drive more fans away with the halo, but once the racing is tightened up people will come back.

          1. @fletch

            I’d question if the halo will drive any fans away. A casual fan won’t have strong feelings on it, and a dedicated fan despite the bluster of a few of them isn’t really going to entirely turn their back in the sport for a relatively insignificant change.

        2. Speed is a necessary factor for it to be a race, the drivers head being entirely exposed without protection is not.

          The drivers skill is in control of the risks speed poses, their head being exposed to a random unavoidable impact is pot luck akin to playing Russian roulette.

          My being a tool is unrelated to any arguments I’ve made, you haven’t managed to make any arguments despite the fact I assume you’re probably of the opinion you aren’t a tool?

          1. @philipgb A tool is useful. No one could accuse PK of being useful. ;)

          2. This is the only decent arguement I’ve seen from your side on this topic. Congrats.
            It is however an arguement not for the Halo but against open cockpit racing. If open cockpit is too dangerous for our precious little civilization now thats OK. We can just admit that and close it and I won’t complain.

            You went for the whole anti-Halo types are bloodthirsty theme which makes you a tool.

            I’m of the opinion that I’m a tool sometimes.

            1. Being anti-halo either comes down to a lack of understanding as to why we find dangerous activities thrilling to watch, or a bloodlust.

              When watching a skilled person take on a dangerous activity my position is that the thrill in watching it comes from the persons fate being in their own hands, and I’m in awe of the skill and bravery they exhibit. But they have to be in control of the risk, it has to be their skill that makes the difference between success and disaster, not arbitrary pot luck.

              Head exposure doesn’t have that factor. No amount of skill or caution is going to do anything to mitigate a wayward out of control car or object coming flying at the drivers head. There is no thrill for me seeing them exposed to that particular danger.

              Anyone who takes the position that F1 needs that element of danger which is comparable to them playing Russian roulette frankly has a bloodlust because it isn’t the same kind of thrill as seeing a driver skillfully dance the fine line between disaster and success.

    11. Hopefully someone will keep track of every accident in every series where the Halo is used and create a base line of how many moments where the Halo is used and how it did its job. Create a numbering system that reflects the depth of each crash like a 2-3 being minor and 4-6 being concerning and 8-9 serious with 10 being fatal. At the end of the racing calendar all data could be combined so that all will rest easier knowing how much it helps. At the same time if the Halo fails then observe learn and change this system as needed, if needed. Maybe im barking up a tree but data collection could be used to change the Halo, improve the Halo and maybe even get rid of the Halo. If racers arent getting hurt as those poor fellows were then proper data may speak a ton in getting rid of one of Formula Ones dumb ideas, the Halo or as we call it in the US “the Hail no”

    12. Will the halo have the color of the rest of the car next year?

    13. Won’t everything be getting the halo just as F1 moves onto a better solution then?

    14. The stepped noses of 2012 and the silly sausage noses of 2014 look way worse to me than the halo. I’d say ask the drivers at the end of the year what they think and then judge it. It’s not a beauty contest but the drivers have to enjoy themselves.

    15. I’m wondering haw long it will be before the cars are completely driverless.

      The drivers will each enter their cockpit in their simulator room and the cars themselves will be fitted with a dummy.

      Maximum safety for the driver (unless they of course have a heart attack in their closed room). TV can overlay whatever engine sounds they want to and the track patrons will just see “drones” zipping around the track.

      Gamers around the world will rejoice and true motorsports fans (old farts like me) will just wither away.

      I’m joking of course or am I?

      1. The heart of motorsports is performance in the face of danger. Performance while in control of you own fear. Without that element it’s just a game and motorsport dies.

        You are totally correct. It’s what these pro-Halo knitting fans don’t understand. This is the end of open cockpit racing and the beginning of the end of motorsports.

        Luckily we still have bike racing for now….at least until the “safety above all” brigade gets all teary eyed about that and kills it.

        1. Interesting comment but I disagree slightly.
          I think danger was a part of f1’s allure but not the heart of it. The halo is not the death nail you describe just as seatbelts, wheel tethers, HANS device and countless other driver safety measures built into a car. That doesn’t even touch circuit design or regulations on pit lane speed etc.
          I think speed, engineering, spectacle, and heroism were and are part of f1’s allure and they don’t have to be hand in hand with danger to still be exciting.
          F1 is alive today because steps were taken to save lives. Halo is a perfectly natural progression of that even if most of us think it’s ugly.

          1. @Eric (@fletch)

            The Halo is the death of open cockpit racing. The safety measures you describe are not.

            I agree heroism is fundamental to the allure. But you can’t have that without danger. Is engineering and spectacle enough? I don’t know…

        2. @PK I disagree completely. Performance is the heart of motorsport, not danger. If you want to watch snuff, go watch the lunatics do the TT and lay off F1.

          1. Performance while in control of your own fear is the heart of motorsports. Danger is required for that. If you really disagree you can watch video game racing on Twitch. Enjoy.

            Everyone who opposes the Halo is bloodthirsty or likes “snuff”? Nice.

            1. I dare also say that motor racing is a dangerous sport, and that the lives of the many participants (professional or not) may be elongated and/or improved by a slight structural addition, namely the accursed halo. Aesthetic and nostalgic considerations shouldn’t be an issue in a living, evolving formula. Danger is the basis of games, not sports. Russian roulette is not a sport. Sure the ancients had their splendid chariot races and circuses, but what folly awaits if we follow in their tracks?

          2. @ferrox-glideh

            Despite my supporting the halo, I disagree that the TT is snuff.

            The TT is monumentally dangerous and those riders are frankly insane both in their willingness to do something so dangerous and in their skill to pull it off.

            The thrill of watching the TT isn’t that they may get hurt or worse, it’s watching someone who is an absolute freak do something I can’t and that their lives are in their own hands. The only thing keeping them out of a wall or hurtling into the scenery at nearly 200mph is them wrestling those machines to the very limit of control.

            And that is where what they do and the risk to a drivers head in a fully open cockpit race car differs. They have control over the risk. The two times Alonso has had a near miss with another car mounting his cockpit or the random spring that took out Massa weren’t questions of those two drivers running out of talent, they were potluck incidents which you can liken to a bloodthirsty game like Russian roulette.

            The TT is not in the same category, it’s an exhibition of bravery backed by skill where humans push to their limits and it’s perfectly normal to get a thrill watching that kind of activity.

            The random chance of an open cockpit driver being struck in the head is just gratuitous danger with no skill factor.

            1. Couldn’t have said it better @philipgb

    16. “It’s great to have the top-level formulae like F1 being able to engineer new solutions and push the boundaries”

      Yeah, new solutions and pushing the boundaries is what i think about when i think about the halo. It´s literally the most boring, trivial and ugly solution they could come up with. I hope they even consider changing it, cause it´s a fast and practical solution, like th “B” on the road from A -> C. ,but definitly not a “good ridance” final solution.

      Let´s see where they go to next year considering airflow and aesthetics…

      1. I talked w/ Mario. Bad. Won’t help at all in IndyCar due to speeds run, and even F1 is hard pressed to show that it would’ve saved more than one person in FIA land (Surtees). It’s a freak occurrence meeting a EU-style governing body mentality. Since force is measured by 1/2 of the mass times the square of velocity, there is nothing in this can can withstand an impact of over 15kg at 200 mph (320 or so KPH). And the halo can’t stop the bits from sticking thru, can they? And none of this stops the diffuse axonal injuries that claimed Bianci. Bad idea.

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