Nikita Mazepin, Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

F1 teams spent $1 million adding Halo to their cars

2018 F1 season

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Force India estimates adding the Halo to its 2018 F1 car cost up to $1 million (£710,000) as it had to develop a new chassis to accommodate it.

Technical director Andrew Green said the team would have used a development of last year’s car, a significant cost saving, had it not been required to add the new safety device.

Force India VJM11 launch, 2018
Pictures: Force India VJM11 launch
“Expense-wise it’s huge because we had to do a new chassis,” Green told RaceFans at today’s test. “We wouldn’t have anticipated doing a new chassis this year given the amount of changes we made last year, which was huge with the regulation change.”

“For a team like us we’d try to get two years out of the chassis if possible. So in that respect it cost us a huge amount to redevelop and design a new chassis. You’re looking at hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars to put the Halo on the car.”

Green said the lateness of the decision to add Halo to the cars for 2018 created further problems.

“It was late summer, autumn time before we actually had a specification of Halo to put on the car,” he explained. “And even then we didn’t know what the homologation test was going to be. So to try and design the chassis, not knowing what was going to be bolted to it and what loads would be inflicted on it [in the crash tests] was tough.”

Passing the crash tests was vital to ensure the team could run in Spain this week.

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“We knew we were going to end up with one shot to get it right and if we’d’ve failed we wouldn’t be sitting here now, we’d be left with a chassis and lots of bits,” said Green. “It’s a commendable effort by the team to do the job, pass first time and get us here.”

Nikita Mazepin, Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
Halo has to withstand severe impact tests
Halo also presented problems for hitting not just the minimum weight limit, but also the limitations on weight distribution, as Green explained.

“From a design perspective obviously weight is a big part of it. The weight limit has gone up but by not nearly as much as the installation of the Halo. So it put additional stress on all the other parts of the car to try to optimise the weight in those areas, keep the weight of it below the minimum so that we can run ballast.”

“The other area that we have to bear in mind is we have to hit our weight distribution target as well. It’s a small window of weight distribution you’ve got to hit so the architecture of the car has got to be correct otherwise you’re adding ballast to a car that doesn’t need ballast just to get the weight distribution right. We knew we couldn’t afford to do that. So that was a big challenge and the architecture of the car was changing right up until the last minute.”

Force India plans to introduce updated parts ahead of the first race to optimise the aerodynamics of the Halo.

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“It has a significant downstream effect especially around the rear wing area,” said Green. “It’s not designed to be an aerodynamic device but it doesn’t do us any favours in that department. It’s obviously the same for everybody but it still requires a lot of work to mitigate the issues that it causes and we’re still actively working on that. We won’t have a solution until we get to Melbourne.”

“I’m confident we’ll have it under control by then. We’ve been working on it for quite a while. This week we’ll make sure we understand the losses coming off the Halo are where we think they are in all our modelling tools. If that’s confirmed we’ve confident the parts we’re bringing to the car will sort it out.”

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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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  • 27 comments on “F1 teams spent $1 million adding Halo to their cars”

    1. Out of interest, are they allowed to add much to the halo to alter its aerodynamic shape. For example adding a skin to the halo to make it less tubular. I know a few teams had added a small hat to it in order to aid aero but what are the limits?

      1. You can have appendages spreading out up to 20mm from the tube.

        1. I am very surprised that we are not seeing any modifications then… Although 2cm is not much to play with.

          1. I think there are some differences in shapes, just look at the Haas as an example.

            1. The Williams has an extra horizontal aerofoil above the top of the halo. But if you watch and listen to the video of Kubica driving it taken via his headcam you can hear that there is a lot of wind noise from it.
              The Mclaren has the rear face of the halo sculpted in to a complex shape, but the bottom edge of it looks v sharp and dangerous.

    2. A million bucks doesn’t sound that bad in F1 terms. I mean, most of that money is in man-hours anyway.

      1. @pastaman, as you say, in the overall scheme of things, it’s a pretty cheap modification – after all, teams have no issue with spending around $250,000 for a single front wing assembly, and we’ve seen how those are treated as semi-disposable items that are churned through at a rate of knots during the year.

    3. And that’s the beauty of the halo – it affected the smaller teams financially much more than the larger teams. Obviously if Mercedes found it challenging (and by extension super expensive), the smaller teams were going to have a much harder time integrating it.

      In the end, the FIA may have spent the least money on the Halo. Perhaps they should have also done a study on how much it would have cost the teams to add that component to their chassis.

      It’s also important to note that money is not the only factor here. Smaller teams have fewer staff and therefore spending 1,000 hours on adding the halo over the winter months is not the same for Force India as it is for Mercedes. It’s almost 10 times more expensive for Force India since they have 1/10th the staff.

      In an era where small teams are complaining about the smothering costs of competing in F1 and we have only 10 teams left (9 if you take away Toro Rosso), the FIA demands a $1 million safety feature that’s probably twice as expensive as that if you calculate its Total Cost of Ownership.

      That’s the beauty of F1 – even if you can make it less expensive, the governing teams will find a way to make it more expensive.

      It’s cheaper for small teams not to spend resources and times discussing costs in F1 :-)

      1. As for the value of the Halo, I watched the folks in the Winter Olympics. They are the ones who need Halo devices, not F1.

        People are literally jumping off cliffs with zero protection or landing with their necks on ice ledges or skiing miles down at F1 corner speeds or sitting on a barge board going down an ice track. F1 doesn’t need a Halo… The winter Olympics do.

        Statistically speaking F1 is actually proving to be one of the safest sports in the world over the past few years. Even Bianchi’s death was caused by multiple errors in other people’s judgments, not the car. We’ve seen crashes that should and would have been fatal in the past but the drivers get out without a scratch, not even a broken leg or arm. Perhaps the FIA should rough the drivers up a little bit in the hospital to at least give the sense that an accident took place because there’s no way to tell if it was a 150mph crash or a fender bender. In fact, we are more likely to suffer injury if a driver hits our cars (some of which are competing in F1 Honda/Mercedes/BMW) in the Starbucks drivethrough at 5 mph.

        If anyone needs haloes, we need haloes in our cars…

        1. @freelittlebirds Anything and everything to do with running an F1 team costs money and is going to affect those with less money moreso than those with bucketloads of it. Personally I think one of the big reasons the halo has gotten to this point of actually being implemented is that the costs to add such a safety device is relatively minimal, being about as bolt-on as they can get. A windscreen of some sort will costs millions more in terms of rethinking and implementing new aero from front to back to accommodate such a huge aero change to the cars.

          But you are also arguing to not have it at all if indeed Olympians do far riskier things. However, you have conveniently chosen to ignore that fatalities in the Olympics are extremely rare too, and we have seen more fatalities in open wheel racing in recent years from drivers hit with large debris than we have seen from the Olympics. And yes of course far more people die every day from driving domestic cars, or even just from crossing the street, or from recreational downhill skiing etc etc.

          1. @Robbie That’s what Force India and Mercedes have essentially both said – the FIA was short-sighted and the halo wasn’t a bolt-on device as rarely is anything a bolt-on device in anything especially F1. It’s akin to asking someone to make a small change to software – even the smallest change is actually much more expensive than folks envisioned once the full cost is calculated. In a sport where the weight of the paint affects the livery the team uses, it’s obviously going to cost a fortune to add :-)

            There have been deaths at the Olympics and many more severe injuries and deaths during practice of other events. In fact, skiing has also affected F1 through Schumacher’s accident.

            Here’s a list of fatalities in F1:
            Wikipedia

            Are there any fatalities over the past 40 years in F1 that the Halo could have saved? I know we are past that point but the question I guess is “how did we get to this point”?

            1. @freelittlebirds Yes this is why I used the terms ‘relatively minimal’ and ‘about as bolt-on as they can get.’ This is why I have been railing on so aggressively about things like aeroscreens that only look better aesthetically but as everyone seems to want to ignore would truly cost an arm and a leg to implement due to their difference from such a ‘see through’ device as halos that affect aero only minimally. An aeroscreen would end up costing far far more in redesigning the whole car to accommodate it, and therefore advantaging the have teams and once again disadvantaging those with less.

              How did we get to this point? Well for starters it is not because they looked at Olympics, nor domestic car use, nor recreational downhill skiing. They saw some drivers in recent years in open wheel series get hit with large debris (tires and nose cones) and die from that, so they have decided they can do something about that proactively in F1 at relatively low cost. They obviously don’t have to just refer to F1 fatalities and what ones may or may not have been helped by a halo, with a never ending, no right answer debate about what can no longer be changed, to know that seeing drivers recently die in a setting that could just as easily happen in F1 due to their open cockpit design, means something more can be done going forward.

            2. @Robbie

              I completely agree about the aeroscreen. The cost of adding that would have been significantly higher.

              How did we get to this point? Well for starters it is not because they looked at Olympics, nor domestic car use, nor recreational downhill skiing.

              Ha-ha-ha, good one. I was laughing like crazy when I was reading and it was even more comical since I had drawn the parallel.

              But perhaps the FIA should have done that. When you look at risk, you have to compare it to other sports and the Olympics offer a great diversity of popular sports and are also governed by a committee for them to compare to. It’s hard to argue that F1 is more dangerous than many Olympic sports.

              You can also compare it to everyday recreational driving. What’s the risk of an everyday driver driving at 150mph in their own vehicle (assuming no traffic)? Is it lower than driving in F1? If it is, then F1 has to be considered relatively safe, right?

              I see your point about looking at other motorsports but F1 has nothing to do with other motorsports.

              I think as far as Motorsport racing is concerned F1 has become the safest sport in the world. Part of that were the efforts of that magnificent man named Sid Watkins (and Bernie’s support of Sid) but others were also the result of the sport collectively making smart decisions. We see these people suffer crazy crashes and they have less scratches than a stuntman.

              F1 could have easily turned the dial up but they decided to slow down the cars – that automatically made F1 much safer. With additional improvements in brakes, stability, and other safety measures in combination with relatively low speeds, that made F1 much safer overall.

            3. @freelittlebirds Halo would have prevented senna’s death. However other advances since then to barriers, runoffs, wheeltethers(!), Helmets, Cockpit Sidewalls and Hans would have already Most likely eliminated that scenario. Ich can’t think of another F1 accident improved by halo. Maybe burti.

            4. @freelittlebirds Fair enough. For me it is obviously about more than just ‘isn’t F1 already safe enough and safer than many other activities?’ F1 has been able to make that argument for years. But now they have deemed it important to have a device such as the halo. For me the only thing relevant is that drivers in open wheel series have recently been killed by being hit by large debris. So as safe as even F1 itself knows they are, they felt like drivers were still exposed to being hit by a tire or a nose cone. For me, and having already cranked the cars back up last year, with more speed coming this year, there is now so much safety in F1 that the cars can afford to be even faster yet.

            5. @mrboerns, Perez’s crash in the 2011 Monaco GP, where I believe that the Tac-Pro barrier did strike his head during that crash?

      2. I would also add that if the FIA had got their facts sufficiently in line for teams to put their faith in their idea on the original timescale of mid-2016, this would have been integrated into the new regulations, which would have saved all this money for Force India – because the Halo and the other new items could have been considered simultaneously, thus allowing the 2017 chassis to be carried over into 2018, saving maybe $500,000 at the cost of a performance dip.

        I certainly think Otmar Szafneur would have preferred a choice over how the team’s expenditure was distributed…

      3. Not really sure what your argument is? As it is—as others have pointed out—not a huge sum of money relatively speaking. And it will absolutely save lives. I’m already past being bothered by how they look.

        1. Steve – just about anything can save lives in Formula 1. What’s the goal of F1?

          Is F1’s goal to save every life (that’s a noble goal but racing won’t save many lives when you’re spending such resources on 20 people who actually want to assume the risk of racing and do so outside of F1.

          Is it to make F1 the absolute safest sport in the world? Besides being impossible, it’s also a meaningless goal. No one can make F1 safer than playing bingo.

          Is it to make F1 as safe as it can possibly be? Well by Winter Olympic standards, F1 is already much safer than many sports there. It’s safer than you driving your car on an empty at 150 miles per hour. It’s also safer than almost any other motosport in the world.

          How safe do we want F1 to be? The drivers should be willing to assume the same risk as you and I driving at 150 miles per hour. They should be willing to assume the same risk as a downhill skier or skeleton pilot. They should be willing to assume as much risk as the drivers at LeMans or any other motorsport.

    4. I am all for safety; however, I seriously fear that the halo is going to cause new hazards that haven’t been considered.

      I watched William’s and Lane Stroll’s instagram stories; it looks to me as if three points of contact cannot be maintained entering the car (a pretty simple OHS rule); Lance sort of had to do a gymnastic manoeuvre to get in. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a driver mess this up down the line, and injure themselves.

      How does a driver get out of the car if it has rolled, and is upside down? The room that used to exist is now blocked by the halo.

      How do rescue workers safely get access to a driver if the driver is unable to extract themselves from the car. That whole procedure is surely going to be more difficult than before, and like to result in rescue workers putting themselves in positions where they can slip or fall.

      How many new accidents are going to be caused by the reduced visibility?

      These are just a few scenarios where I can imagine the halo causing more harm than good. The FIA, as usual has made a knee jerk decision, without fully working through the potential issues of their decision. I just hope it doesn’t result in a driver being needlessly injured.

      More options should have been tested, more research should have been done, and more advice from materials, safety, and engineering experts outside of the sport should have been sought.

      1. I think the short answer is that if we see the halos on the cars now, and we will see them racing in anger all season, that means that they have been deemed to have more positives than negatives. Driver egress is still acceptable and as one drivers said, the mock ups they had before weren’t very strong, but now that they are properly built and installed the drivers can grab the halo and haul themselves up that way.

        There are no visibility issues.

        The halo still allows access to the driver when a car is upside down, so that if necessary his head and neck can be stabilized. If they determine he is ok then can then go ahead and put the car upright. A canopy or a wrap around aeroscreen would allow even less access to an upside down driver.

        This has not been knee-jerk. They have studied this. And more research is being done on other solutions, but other solutions will likely cost way way more money to implement and so caution would be needed in terms of the affordability for lesser teams.

        1. @robbie – Is your day job at the FIA PR dept.?

          There are no visibility issues.

          Please quote all the studies and references to a season full of races when making absolute claims. Thanks.

          The halo still allows access to the driver when a car is upside down, so that if necessary his head and neck can be stabilized. If they determine he is ok then can then go ahead and put the car upright. A canopy or a wrap around aeroscreen would allow even less access to an upside down driver.

          The FIA has already developed tools to free the driver by removing the halo – requires 12 seconds to remove the halo in lab testing conditions. FIA doesn’t note what time is required when fire is involved and volunteer track staff.

          Agree with other posters – it’s a safety feature too far as F1 is statistically safer than other forms of motorsport.

          Oh well…Formula Playskool is what we get to look forward to. MonkeyBar open-wheel stretch limo racing at its fastest. I remember when nimble F1 cars weighed 550 kilos…this year the plus-sized ones are near 800 kilos.

          1. @jimmi-cynic Given that the drivers are not citing any visibility issues, which I take to mean they can see just as well as before, or else we’d be hearing about it, I don’t see why there would be any difference once they are all together on the grid racing in anger. Obviously everyone within F1 has agreed that visibility will not be an issue. Last year the drivers had opportunities to drive during practice sessions with it on, amongst other cars, and nothing negative about visibility from then either. I trust that F1/FIA is smart enough to not introduce this if it would in any way change how drivers see other cars around them, or, they would have tweaked the design to aid in that area. Plain and simply the only real argument against the halo is from the aesthetics standpoint.

            1. @formulales @robbie I’m transcribing some quotes from Sainz at the moment about his run with the Halo today, in one of which he concludes “visibility was not an issue”.

            2. I don’t understand how visibility is not an issue. When I read car reviews, they talk about the pillars obstructing visibility.

              How can a pillar in the middle of the car not obstruct visibility when it covers 1/3 of the lane in Bottas’ video?

              Also, it only needs to affect 1 driver’s visibility or any driver at 1 moment – if they can’t see the other car or judge the distance at that particular moment (e.g when the other car is next to you), then it’s an issue.

              The side bars must look like the Brooklyn Bridge when you stand next to it when viewed from inside the car.

            3. @keithcollantine Thanks for that. I also note that some drivers have talked more about the cold day, with no mention of the halo whatsoever. Some, just about the aesthetics of the halo.

              @freelittlebirds I think you are making some assumptions based on what it looks like from a camera, and aren’t appreciating that it is far better for the actual drivers. Eg. If the pillar actually covered 1/3 of the lane for a driver, they simply would not be employing halos. Or there would be a redesign. Other eg. When a driver flat spots a tire and complains he can barely see due to vibration, the on board cameras don’t pick that up and relay that to us TV viewers whatsoever. So cameras do not completely project what it is like for the drivers.

              And the side bars may look like the Brooklyn Bridge from inside, but the drivers would have to look way up to see them, and they’re never looking that way when racing in anger…and again, if the side bars even obstructed the drivers peripheral vision let alone actual vision they wouldn’t have halos, or the side bars would be less downward sloping and would perhaps come straight along the car parallel to the floor, and then drop down to attach behind the drivers’ shoulders as they do.

              The only ‘obstruction’ is the front pillar, and one with think with all the brain power that is in F1, that pillar must be acceptable for the drivers, just as antennae and what have you have been ok for years right dead centre in front of the drivers too. Otherwise if the pillar was too thick and actually an obstruction, again, no halo or a redesigned one.

              I think it is safe to say the drivers will not even notice the pillar nor the halo once they are racing and focusing on the cars around them and the next apex.

      2. @formulales

        I second those thoughts and I’ve expressed the same concerns in my posts. I think it’s obvious from the pains that the teams faced to add the halo to their cars that the FIA has failed to take some obvious things into account.

        It stands to reason that at least one or more of your and the collective concerns of the F1 community will be unaccounted for. Hopefully, no driver will have to find out the hard way that a safety device is the source of the accident it was supposed to protect against.

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