Charles Leclerc, Sauber, Spa-Francorchamps, 2018

Too soon to say if Halo saved Leclerc from serious injury – Whiting

2018 Belgian Grand Prix

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Halo played a role in protecting Charles Leclerc in the huge crash at the start of today’s Belgian Grand Prix but it’s too soon to say how significant it was, according to FIA race director Charlie Whiting.

Leclerc’s Halo bore visible marks of contact from Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, which went over the top of the Sauber at the start of the race.

Whiting said “it would be a little bit speculative” to say at this stage that Halo the, which was introduced this year, saved Leclerc from serious injury.

“But it doesn’t take much imagination to think that the tyre marks could have actually been on Charles’s head [helmet]. It would be a bit of a miracle if they weren’t had the Halo not been there. There’s a huge extent of the tyre marks.”

Some were quick to praise the role Halo played including retired 2016 world championship Nico Rosberg, who posted on social media: “We can end the Halo discussion now. It will save lives!”

Fellow former F1 driver Max Chilton, who survived a near-miss with a tyre during the 2014 British Grand Prix, wrote: “And people still think race cars shouldn’t have them. We could have lost another fantastic talent today without it.”

The FIA will take a close look at how Leclerc’s Halo stood up to the impact to see what can be learned from the crash.

“We’ve had a cursory examination of the parts,” said Whiting. “It’s a little early to say. The high-speed camera won’t tell us an awful lot. The onboard camera that we’ve seen so far is not particularly clear.

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Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2018
Leclerc had a close call
“What is clear is the significant tyre marks on both the chassis and the Halo. We take lots of photographs and our researchers will be contacting Sauber tomorrow morning just to make sure we understand, for example, when they take the Halo off, try and see if the ficxing and the bolts that fix it are in good shape.

“And, more importantly, to see if it’s been distorted. It’s being held in by the bolts at present, but see if it springs into a different shape and we can try and learn whatever we can from that. But it looks like it had a pretty hefty whack.”

This is not the first time a Halo has been damaged since it was introduced. Formula Two driver Tadasuke Makino was involved in a crash where rival Nirei Fukuzumi’s car hit his Halo.

“Our researchers have done a fairly detailed internal report on [that],” said Whiting. “All we can try to do is to gather as much information as we can, of course. Which helps us as we’re in the process of beginning development of Halo Four, so the more we can get, the better.”

In response to a questions from RaceFans, Whiting also confirmed the FIA will shares its findings with IndyCar, which is looking into introducing a similar kind of cockpit protection in the wake of crashes such as Robert Wickens’ at Pocono last weekend.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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18 comments on “Too soon to say if Halo saved Leclerc from serious injury – Whiting”

  1. So many sensors on the cars but none on the halo?

    1. What kind of sensor would you add there?

  2. The halo is much larger and far more protruding than the helmet. There seems to be much assumption that because there was significant contact with the halo, there would have been contact with the helmet. This is impossible to tell without a reconstruction or simulation of some sort.

    What is definite is that with cars flying like that, the halo is here to stay.

    1. Duncan Snowden
      27th August 2018, 1:57

      Yes. I’ve been looking at the TV footage frame-by-frame, and it’s really hard to tell. As I said in the other thread, there’s no question of Alonso’s floor being of any danger, since it’s the combination of the roll hoop and cockpit sides that protects against that, but his front-right wheel did hit Leclerc’s halo (which isn’t actually obvious in real time, or even from some angles in frame-by-frame; that still in the article makes it look as if none of his wheels came anywhere near it).

      The question is at what angle did it hit, going in which direction, and that’s not at all clear. It was pitched quite violently upwards on the suspension at one point, but it’s hard to say whether this was as it hit the halo or if it had hit the leading edge of the sidepod or some other chassis part first, and was therefore already heading out of harm’s way.

      My suspicion is that Charles would probably have been okay without the halo (which – I’ll say it again just to be clear – doesn’t mean that it’s useless), however the point is that Charlie’s right. It’s far too early to jump to conclusions.

      1. It looked to me like the wheel was travelling down, judging from the marks going across and down the halo, although it’s not completely clear. Worth mentioning that the halo might have done little to stop the wheel coming straight down on top of Leclerc’s head had it been coming from directly above the cockpit.

  3. And after Halo Four, they’ll take one last shot with Halo Reach, before selling the brand Microsoft, and moving on to Destiny?

  4. I keep seeing posts saying that everyone who thought the halo was garbage should now sit down. I think I can speak for the majority of folks who dislike the halo when I say the halo is still garbage, and I think the governing bodies can do much better in terms of protection and aesthetics. Nobody in their right mind is saying that drivers don’t need head protection, we’re saying the “Todt Thong” isn’t the best solution to the problem.

    1. It is the best solution for these kind of impacts and that is proven by all the tests and data that fia did. A visor or aeroscreen is not strong enough. Red bull’s aeroscreen was so weak that they did not even bother keep working on it after it failed some tests. And it would not even work in f1 because of the distortion issues. Even if you make the visor stronger by making it thicker it is not just heavy but distorts the view as well.

      Even if there is better solution in the future we still need something in the meantime. But that better solution has not been invented yet.

      1. Thats absurd.

        You dont need to look any further then a badass LMP1 or LMP2 machine. No ridiculous flip-flop, and total head protection.

        Ticket sales have decreased every year since they changed to the vacuum cleaner engines, and im sure this year will be even worse. Me and a couple buddies have been to at least one F1 race somewhere in the world for 11 consecutive years. All that ended when we lost the sound, I’ve been to 1 race and that was because I was in Barcelona for work on GP weekend and was horrified by the sound. As a photographer I go for the photos- would anyone actually hang a photo of an Halo car on their wall? doubt it.
        Instead we’ve been to Le Mans in 2016 and again this year. So much better!

        #HaloSucks

        1. The decline in ticket sales started in 2008, and when compared against falling ticket sales across other event based entertainment industries shows a far greater resilience to the financial decline than them.

          Simply put, when corrected against the financial decline, ticket sales are increasing.

          But sure no-one, especially not my son would have halo cars on their walls.. Oh, he has three. Huh. Oh and he has a technical diagram of the engines on his wall that he drew himself. Reckons they will be touted as a miracle of design in future years. Meanwhile his granddad still raves and rants about the introduction of seatbelts, reckons that the sport has been in decline since the 60’s and that the only engine worth a damn is the V16’s. He’s a Ferrari fan, but calls every engine they make a hoover engine. It’s like you guys belong to the same club, borrowing each other’s jokes and all! Still, I bet your wall looks great with all those X wing cars proudly displayed, from the good old days. Oh, and he called Senna an “enemy of the sport” for his ridiculous crusade against the manliness of the gladiators who put their lives on the line for our entertainment. He cheered his death, said it was just deserts. Still, to this day claims that was the sports greatest day, because what’s the point in watching sport when no-one can possibly die.

          It’s almost as if our brains work by remembering the past with a rose tint and find change a difficult thing to deal with, and we’ll make little circular justifications in our head that make us sound legitimately mentally ill, no matter how sensible it sounds to us. I’m sure I’ll be the same when I get to his age, and the sport will go on, as my son’s generation tune in.

    2. I think I can speak for the majority of folks who dislike the halo when I say the halo is still garbage

      This kind of opinion benefits nobody, have your opinion sure, but there’s no reason to speak on behalf of people… There are a lot of people in the world and it’s pretty presumptuous to think you know how other people think at all.

    3. @knewman I absolutely agree with you. Sadly I think that Leclerc’s accident will be used as an excuse to avoid developing an alternative head protection device or system. Instead we will have Halo Four, Halo Five etc. But while I am obviously glad that F1 has implemented something that can save drivers’ lives or actually saves lives, aesthetics still do matter.

  5. I’m not a fan of the Halo aesthetics in the slightest, and think they will do a lot better with more time… But I’ll be damned if my first thought as I saw the accident wasn’t “good thing they’ve got the Halo.”

    Whether the accident technically would have seriously injured Leclerc or not is irrelevant because it would have been simply lucky not to. If the FIA didn’t implement the Halo they would have quite rightly been saying this is the exact situation they feared when they were making the decision to do so.

    1. My hat’s off to the FIA and sticking to their convictions with regards to safety and preventing what could have been an absolutely devastating and tragic accident with an up and coming talent. They proved their worth as a whole this race.

      1. Too true. My first thought was also “glad they have the halo”. I also agree that even if the car has sailed over without touching it I would still be happy about the existence of the halo. When it’s feasible, life should not be left into the hands of sheer luck. Still looks bad though… But I’m warming to it like I do with every F1 design. (Maybe not the manpart noses. But we did laugh…)

  6. He’d have been fine, the roll hoop saved him, but Halo proved it’s worth anyway. I still worry about extraction time, but it’s 1-0 to Halo at present.

  7. Yes, ok, I was one of the critics about halo, saying it looks bad and it’s useless, not so useless any more I guess, and also I hadn’t even noticed it in the recent races, I’m getting used to it.

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