Composite image of Charles Leclerc's Spa 2018 crash and Scott Dixon testing IndyCar's windscreen

IndyCar-style windscreens ‘only 10% as effective as Halo’ in Leclerc crash


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An alternative solution to Formula 1’s Halo would only be 10% as effective in a crash such as Charles Leclerc’s at Spa, according to the FIA.

F1 adopted the Halo for 2018 after testing alternative structures including the Shield, which Sebastian Vettel evaluated at Silverstone last year. He cut short his test run with the windscreen-style device, saying it made him feel dizzy.

IndyCar has tested a similar design to the Shield on two occasions this year. However FIA safety delegate Charlie Whiting says this style of design would only offer a tenth of the level of protection that Halo did in Leclerc’s crash.

“You’ve seen the sort of protection that they have been proposing and they’ve tested, similar to the Shield I think that Sebastian tried a couple of years ago in Silverstone,” said Whiting.

“But I think what we’ve seen with Charles’ accident in Spa is that sort of thing wouldn’t have been nearly as effective. We’re looking at 10 percent of the protection that the Halo can offer, generally speaking.”

Leclerc’s Halo was hit by Fernando Alonso’s front-right wheel in a first-corner crash at the Belgian Grand Prix last month. The Halo was subject to 56 kilonewtons of force and the impact shattered the suspension on Alonso’s car.

Robert Wickens’ violent crash in the Pocono 500 last month has prompted fresh debate over safety standards in IndyCar. FIA karting president Felipe Massa accused the championship of being too slow to adopt safety improvements such as Halo.

Sebastian Vettel tries the shield, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2017
F1 tested but rejected the Shield last year
Whiting said the FIA will also discuss the performance of the debris fence Wickens hit with IndyCar.

“I think there are lessons that we can probably both learn from that because I think one of the things that was interesting about the accident was the way in which the car, after it hit the fences, what the fences can do at those speeds depending on the angle the car hits the fences.

“It’s supposed to deflect it but it gets hit on those very, very strong uprights which are necessary to stop it going into the crowd, but obviously it can also do things to the car and driver, as we saw with Dan Wheldon, for example.”

IndyCar is not an FIA-run championship. However it is affiliated to the governing body via the Automobile Competition Committee of the United States, which is an FIA member club.

The series has not responded to a request for a comment. Yesterday Wickens’ team and family issued further details of the extent of the injuries he suffered in the crash.

IndyCar’s windscreen tests

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41 comments on “IndyCar-style windscreens ‘only 10% as effective as Halo’ in Leclerc crash”

  1. Andrew in Atlanta
    7th September 2018, 12:49

    Wow, does the FIA own stock in the company that makes the Halos? It will NOT work for Indy cars, it is a non-starter of an idea for ovals as the sight lines needed are directly blocked by the halo. But sure, stuff your nose into a situation like Massa did and leave yourself open to be proven as ill-informed as he was as well. First you don’t want to credit the halo with any part of the Leclerc incident and now an alternate solution would magically be 10% as effective? It’s two different series with very different cars and VERY different racing conditions. And quite frankly the FIA should be the LAST group judging others on safety measures in any capacity

    1. Here’s a thought exercise. Allow drivers to decide if they want a halo on their car. If they don’t want it equivalent ballast will be mounted appropriately so they won’t have a weight advantage. If you were a driver which would you choose? If there was just a small chance of protecting my head from injury, I’d go with the halo. You can do whatever you want with your head.

      1. That is very idealistic and naive view of how things work in real life.

        1. OK, Mr. Realistic, bear in mind that I prefaced my post with “Here’s a thought exercise.” Please explain how things work in real life. Go.

    2. Where did they say IndyCar should use the Halo? Talking about pointless ranting.

  2. Yes, we know that the screen wouldn’t be as strong as the halo with a car on top of it. Its mission is to stop the much more common hazard of flying debris coming at the driver during accidents. Hopefully, cars flying on top of one another can be kept to a minimum.

    1. >Hopefully, cars flying on top of one another can be kept to a minimum.

      “Hope” has failed every crash test…

    2. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      10th September 2018, 13:12

      There is an alternative which imho, looks better and covers both bases accident-wise.

  3. Whiting is cramming a ton of qualifiers into his statements: “I think…”, “we’re looking at…”, “generally speaking…”

    1. It’s fair enough I think. He’s been asked about a series he’s not really involved in so he has to make assumptions based on his experience. Also from the article we don’t know the context that he was asked these questions in. Was this from an interview or from a brief chat?

  4. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    7th September 2018, 13:43

    I wonder what the stats are for a Massa style accident?
    Ill do a Charlie and pull a random number out of thin air.

    1. How about 12 pears

    2. @fullcoursecaution It’s not ‘pulling a number out of thin air’ when you have actually seen the data.

      Charlie has all the load figures from the various impact test’s. He knows what the load the Halo can manage is & knows the load that the various windscreen’s failed at. He also knows the load that the Halo took in the Alonso/Leclerc accident.

      10% may be a general estimate, But it will be an estimate that he came to based on knowing the actual data & should be pretty accurate.

      1. @gt-racer – I’m inclined to agree. I remember Charlie’s been cautious about not jumping to conclusions about the Halo’s efficacy in the Leclerc incident (when a lot of people – myself included – were happy to instantly conclude that the Halo helped), since he wanted to assess the video evidence, and then have experts assess the mounting points of the Halo to see how much energy was passed on there, etc.

        1. Some people just think it’s clever to be contrarian.

      2. Indeed @gt-racer, @phylyp. I think we can take it for granted that Whiting wouldn’t say anything if he did not have pretty convincing data at hand.
        Remember @fullcoursecaution, right after Spa he was amongst the first to say that it was too soon to say anything about the effectiveness of the Halo. Why then would he say anything now? Because in between then and now he has seen the data.

        Sure, he is carefull with formulating it, because possibly he has not tested the latest design of the Indy Screen (he does have the data on previous tests though, because the FIA and Indycar work together and share info on this), but he knows the previous versions and he knows the tests they did with the comparable areoscreens at the FIA

        1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
          7th September 2018, 18:04

          I question Charlie’s analysis @bascb because the “generally 10%” feels like a plucked lowball for a hypothetical with so many variables, and rubbishing the Indy solution is counterproductive given halos don’t work on ovals.
          I reckon both series should be pursuing a hybrid RB Aeroscreen style solution that protects against both LeClerc and Massa incidents, but this statement feels like a justification for F1 moving away from this direction and doubling down on the halo

          1. The variables in the equation are why Whiting mentions a roughly accurate number and no 8,756546489 % or something “accurate” like that @fullcoursecaution. He could have also mentioned it was 10% with a deviation of +/- 3,67% (for example) or something like that.

            In general the aeroscreens were just not offering the kind of impact protection the FIA was looking for (that goes for the Ferrari version but also for the RB version.). For Indy Cars on the other hand the position of where the HALO is poses a larger issue with visibility on banked ovals, something F1 doesn’t have on the calendar, so that is not a realistic option (this would be exactly the same for the RB screen because it had a thick frame) for them.

    3. I was thinking along the lines that in a Massa style accident with flying small debris, a windscreen would be approaching 100% effective, while the halo is probably somewhere around 10% effective.

      I would think that a properly formed single piece polycarbonate windscreen is going to perform well above Charlie’s stated 10% comparative efficiency.

      Would either hold up in a Bianchi style crash? I’d worry more about the blunt force deceleration G’s at that point.

      1. No idea if that is the material but is the same one used in fighter jets and they are designed to deflect bird in flight at speeds so yeah, the windscreen will work really nicely in my opinion.

      2. In a Bianchi style crash the aeroscreen would do nothing at all, and honestly the Halo wouldn’t have made much, if any difference either. The only solution there would have been to not have this heavy equipment out there with the cars going as fast as they were going @reg and @amaury.

  5. I think the question of the halo influencing the outcome of the Spa is interesting. Clearly Halo stopped intrusion of the wheel into the cockpit as the picture above shows that Halo is angled up at the front and that is the path of Alonso’s car. So a clear win for Halo.

    The problem is, what if Alonso already had broken suspension when he made contact with the Halo and the tyre dangles into the space above Leclerc’s head? There is clearly enough room for the tyre to fit in the same space that the driver extracts himself out of and Halo offers no protection there. It is possible (thankfully not in this instance) where a tyre can make contact with a drivers head despite Halo being on the car.

    I think its this second point that is why there’s been a muted response to Halo because it is still possible for a tyre to hit a driver when the goal is to make sure it cannot happen.

    1. So you are basically saying protection from the top.
      I think the analysis that was done to analyze the kind of accidents that happen had reached a conclusion that something hitting the driver from the top is very rare. And the roll hoop exists for this purpose, to stop something coming from the top.
      You are describing a very rare occasion where the object is coming from the top and positioned such that it is away from the roll hoop.
      You can’t really protect such scenario via the halo. If we fashion another device for this type of contact, how often do you think it will be better get used.. I would say very very rare..

      1. If we fashion another device for this type of contact, how often do you think it will be better get used

        And more importantly, how will it impact driver egress & driver access in the case of other incidents.

  6. The steering wheel display of the Penske car, though.

  7. After the two incidents in F1 this year, and the one in Indycar-maybe two counting Portland, I think the Halo is a great idea.
    I want to see these guys race fast, and certainly do not want to see them injured or killed.
    I keep thinking of Scott Dixon’s accident at Indy recently, and how close he came to disaster. I would want to have a halo after seeing that.
    Just my thoughts-I’ve said this before and people strongly disagree with me…

  8. How can something be 90% less effective than 0% effective?

    The halo had no effect on the outcome of the AlonsoHulkenbergLeclerc crash so people need to stop mentioning it. Utter BS.

    1. Yes, Halo had a big effect: It justified the mandatory use of higher standards of driver protection in F1, and by virtue of that, raised the international standards for driver safety in Open Wheel car racing series’s. The Halo reversed the McLaren’s lateral rotation and stopped it’s longitudinal rotation, and in the process of doing that broke the McLaren’s right front wheel’s suspension arms. I can’t tell whether Halo actually prevented the right front wheel from hitting Leclerc, but I suspect it did, after all there were skid marks on the Halo. If it had one could surmise he would have been injured by virtue of the force involved was high enough to break the suspension arms. Studying the video carefully, besides the seeing the skid marks on the Halo after the crash you can see the rear of the Sauber lost it’s rear wing and ripped the side off the McLaren.
      That crash and those skid marks on the Halo will, at a minimum, be further justification for higher standards of driver protection at Indycar. Whether or not those responsible for driver safety at Indycar see the writing on the wall and bring their series up to international standards is up to them, but at least Indycar fans can easily find further evidence to justify their demands.

      1. Thats not how I saw it. If the Halo wasnt there there would be nothing for the wheel to hit. The skid marks you mention are well beyond where the drivers helmet is so im my opinion all the Halo did was give the tire something to hit.

        Secondly, the slightest brush with a wall or just about any unintended load placed on the suspension arms break them. Hell they break on their own sometimes- Buemi had a rather spectacular double failure just a few years ago.

        Going to have to try harder then that to convince me that abomination should be on the cars.

        1. Going to have to try harder then that to convince me that abomination should be on the cars.

          Thankfully, no one needs to, and we have the luxury of debating whether it helped, rather than whether it could have.

          1. Im curious where it’s appropriate to draw the line then.

            If it’s safety above all else why is ok to put humans in 300kph vehicles for our amusement in the first place? By the logic of having the luxury to debate shouldn’t the answer be no debate in the first place? Park the cars, racing is too dangerous, we’re all a bunch of monsters for cheering this sport on is basically what y’all are arguing.

        2. Exactly.

          The halo got hit because it was in the way. I’ve seen much bigger shunts than this – Grosjean/Alonso, Wurz/Coulthard, Brundle/Verstappen. In each of those people would be saying “OMG thank GOD the HALO was there” but in reality there was no halo for any of those accidents and there were no injuries.

          It’s a knee-jerk gimmick which is trashing the sport along with pay-drivers and fuel management.

        3. Probably worth putting this into context. The halo absorbed 56KN of force that could (but I appreciate that we cant definitely prove) have been applied to Leclercs helmet.

          For context, its generally accepted that it takes 1000 lbs of pressure (lbf) to snap a neck, or 4448.22162 N, and 3,000 N to break the cervical spine if applied perpendicular. So if applied at the right angle only 8% of the 56KN force it absorbed would need to be attributed to Leclerc to cause serious injury.

          We obviously can’t calculate exactly how much force would have been deflected by other bodywork in the absence of the halo, but to me whilst it may not be a perfect solution this is a pretty good indication that having it in place is better than not having it.

  9. How effective is the halo at stopping debris from the front such as the spring that hit Massa? It seems like the aeroscreen or shield would do a better job than a halo.

  10. Charlie Whiting has not tested the Indycar windscreen and has no scientific basis for comparison with the halo because the Indycar windscreen is fundamentally different from the cheesy windscreen F1 tested in materials and construction. The Indycar windscreen is made of a much stronger material and is thicker, as well. When Dixon tested the Indycar windscreen, he said there was no optical distortion at all.

    The fact of the matter is that the FIA had decided upon the halo prior to doing any testing at all and invested nothing in building windscreen that was up to the job. Someone asked if the FIA (or someone at the FIA) had a financial interest in adopting the halo for F1, and I think that is a very valid question to ask.

    1. Just to throw it out there, take a look at the photo at the top if this page. See all the really REALLY hot liquid and gasses spewing from the car… now lets be as careless with our assumptions that Leclerc was saved because of the Halo and instead lets imagine Alonso’s car rolled and ended upside down… When gravity takes effect, and that liquid flows/sprays onto the driver trying to escape the deathtrap the Halo is when the car is overturned- then what? A severely burned pilot, how is that any better?

      Think about how many times a car has ended up upside down vs. a tire or something like a tire striking a driver. If I was a pilot I would take my chances of being able to escape the wreck then not surviving an accident that hasn’t happened in F1. (In the modern era no F1 pilot has been struck by a tire in case you didn’t know)

      The Halo is purely because Jean Todt and Charlie FAILED in reacting to Adrian Sutil’s initial accident at Suzuka. Had they red flagged the race or had a proper double yellow as Martin was pleading for in the commentary box Jules would still be with us. Thats the BS about all this. Martin had the exact same accident in the exact same spot but they failed to react. What a great idea, a frigging tractor on the circuit, during a wicked rainstorm and they dont neutralize the race? Shame on them for unleashing this abomination so they can sleep better for their mistake.

      Halo is not the answer.

    2. That is nonsense @gwbridge. Why? Because first of all, what you say is not true. The reason why the screens tested had distortion is exactly BECAUSE they were thick enough to withstand damage at all (they were not flimsy at all). Another point where you are wrong is in assuming that Charlie does not have data about the IndyCar screen. Yes, the FIA did not conduct the tests, but the series work together and exchange all information to help both of them improve safety. So yes, Charlie DOES have enough information on that and he can easily compare it with the screens tested in F1.

      The biggest difference is that IndyCar and F1 are looking for slightly different things from the screens (Indycar lighter pieces of bodywork vs. things like complete wheels for F1), then there is the visibility on banked ovals that means a Halo is not viable for the Indycar series. And last but not least, the Indycars have different cockpits and no airbox that allow a slightly different shape of the screen possibly making it easier to avoid areas with high distortion.

      1. @bascb First of all, I don’t know where you get off saying what I posted is not true. Perhaps you are not as informed as you think you are, and I question whether you have read the detailed evaluation of the materials, construction and effectiveness of the Indycar windscreen since you post no specifics. It sounds to me as if you are just one of the people who post from a strictly F1 perspective which doesn’t really give full consideration to non-FIA viewpoints. In any event, I am not a liar.

        There are two things that are clear to me. One is that the FIA never gave more than a token look at the concept of an F1 windscreen, even one with some sort of frame. The evidence of that is the absence of any FIA prototypes specifically designed for the needs of the F1 car. Red Bull did one that did what it was designed to do, but RBR’s criteria were not the FIA’s criteria. The second think is that the head protection device for Indycar and the device for F1 obviously must meet different requirements and criteria based upon their application. This business of constantly declaring that the halo is the superior device simply because you can park a bus on top of it is pure BS. No one has been tasked to design a bus support.

        Show me where the FIA ever attempted to design a windscreen out of the latest, most advanced materials and tested a prototype before rejecting that approach and going full stream ahead with the halo.

        1. Well @gwbridge, you try to argue that I don’t know my facts. But I just reminded you that Whiting/the FIA DOES have all the facts (something you seem to continue to ignore, now who is limiting their perspective) – because IndyCar shares that data with the FIA, just as the FIA shares it’s data with IndyCar because both are working to improve safety and can learn from each other.

          Also, read my post again, I explicitly mention that both series are looking at different targets for the extra head protection and clearly a Halo does not fit that purpose for IndyCar (offers little protection against smaller, lighter debris and seriously obstructs view angles on banked ovals). On the other hand, the cars dimensions and the FIA have different targets (large, heavy objects) that do make the Halo the best choice for F1.

          1. Show me where the FIA ever attempted to design a windscreen out of the latest, most advanced materials and tested a prototype before rejecting that approach and going full stream ahead with the halo.

            The design that Indycar recently tested did not exist when the FIA went ahead with the halo. There was no data for Indycar to share with the FIA on this design prior to the FIA committing to the halo. The FIA never seriously considered a windscreen solution. All they did was produce a test video of some jet plane canopy that proved their point.

            I’m not knocking the halo. It does what it was designed to do very well. But it only does what it was designed to do. A properly designed windscreen offers additional protection from object approaching from the front and MIGHT be able to provide sufficient strength to deflect objects coming from the rear as in the recent Sauber incident. Not all windscreen designs would be the same. Hitting an old fashioned jet canopy with a tire is not adequately exploring the possibilities a windscreen could offer. Equating the Red Bull windscreen with the Indycar design is ridiculous. Any claim that the FIA thoroughly explored both avenues before making a decision is unsupportable with any evidence that has been made available to the public. The FIA’s windscreen “test” was nothing more than a promotional video produced to support the halo choice.

  11. It staggers me that nobody has thought of putting a screen in front of the Halo, which is kind of what the Aeroscreen was, but the frame wasn’t as strong as the Halo so it was discarded.
    The Shield failed because it made Seb Vettel dizzy because it was too flat and caused too much refraction.
    The front of the Halo is steeper, more like a car windscreen, no reason why that wouldn’t work.
    So it gets wet in the rain, so does the visor.
    So it’s dirty with oil, etc. Give the screen rip-offs that the pit crew can remove during a pit stop.
    Very Simple!!

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