Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Interlagos, 2018

Halo did not delay Hulkenberg extraction after crash – Whiting

2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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FIA race director Charlie Whiting says he is entirely satisfied with how the Halo performed in Nico Hulkenberg’s crash during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Renault driver was launched into a roll by Romain Grosjean on the first lap of the race and came to a rest upside-down on top of a barrier. This prompted concerns that the Halo, which was introduced on cars for this year, made it harder for Hulkenberg to get out of the car.

Asked whether the Halo delayed Hulkenberg’s extraction from the car, Whiting said: “Not at all.”

Whiting said the procedure for getting Hulkenberg out of the car went exactly as planned. “We knew he was okay,” he said. “There’s nothing to worry about there.

“The routine under those circumstances is to put the car back on its wheels. Once the car was back on its wheels, which has to be done carefully of course, he was able to get out by himself. It was very controlled from what I could see. Our medical delegate was more than happy with the way it was done. It all worked exactly as it should.”

Hulkenberg was heard saying “get me out” and “there’s fire” on the radio after the crash. Whiting said race control are able to hear radio messages from drivers in real-time in these situations.

“In an accident like that the radio from the car is automatically routed to race control so that we get an immediate information to make sure,” he said.

“Drivers normally say ‘I’m fine’ or ‘I’m okay’. So we get that and we relate that to the to the doctors or on the way to the scene so they know that he’s okay. And then they can take their time to get the car righted and just let him get out.”

Whiting said the Halo was designed partly to give drivers extra room to escape from a car which has flipped over.

“Quite clearly it’s one of the sort of accidents that Halo was designed to help with because formally I mean it provides more space for the driver once the car is upside down.

“You may have seen some of the tests we did during the prove-out phase of the Halo involved putting the car on its top with a Halo and making sure the driver could actually get out of the car. That was one of the things we wanted to make sure was still possible.”

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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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58 comments on “Halo did not delay Hulkenberg extraction after crash – Whiting”

  1. In the event of his car catching fire…he could not get out…and until the car was pulled away from the barrier..he was stuck…so how long does it take in the event of a flash fire to be badly burned??
    His car was full of fuel, and because of a fairly low speed crash, he was fully conscious…and he said in the interview later, that he was worried that he was unable to get out and was aware of some sort of fire going on
    A halo may save lives in some cases…..but the opposite could be true as well…

    1. His voice on the radio when he said ‘there’s a fire get me out’ was terrifying tbh.

    2. Totally agree with you @jop452

    3. @jop452 Worth referring back to Whiting’s explanation on the Halo/fire subject when it was raised before Halo was introduced:

      1. I think there’s a very good argument to prevent drivers who are upside down from extracting themselves anyway. They have almost always just been in an accident where they should not be moved until a doctor has examined them, and as you are hanging, your extraction is going to put you at significant risk of falling onto your helmet and seriously exacerbating any spinal injuries.

        I would like to see fire extinguishers deployed much more rapidly though, even if flames cannot be seen I am going to say that drivers should not extract themselves, that is a crucial point.

        1. Bad English in my second paragraph but I don’t know the language enough to write it better, hopefully you know what I am trying to say :)

          1. I’m still trying to see what is grammatically wrong (or so wrong) that it would detract from your point. It reads just fine to me :-)

        2. I don’t know man. I think if you were in an upside down car in flames, you’d rather at least have the option of taking your changes and trying to crawl out yourself (as has happened once or twice in the past) than just sitting there and burning to death because someone thinks it’s safer. I’m not an expert or anything, just my two sents

          1. Yes, obviously if fire has consumed your car, sure, but skipping the complete fictional fantasy you’ve concocted and sticking firmly in the realms of reality, there’s a reason a paramedic will physically stop you from extracting yourself from a car when you’ve had a quarter of the crash these guys have – and it’s because we know it’s far safer to not move.

      2. Thanks Keith for that link…the unlikely scenario that Charlie mentioned nearly came about today…I am not convinced that Marshalls are able to put a burning car back over onto its wheels or hold it off the wall to get a driver out until the fire is extinguished..
        I am also not convinced that the halo is safe and it should be looked at again
        I will be surprised if the teams let this one go, as this could have been the end of Nico today…but thankfully not.

  2. I totally agree.

  3. From the way Nico’s car came to rest, it looked like he would have been able to get out of the car on his own if the halo wasn’t in there. From a different article: When asked if his car’s halo had stopped him squeezing out of the wreckage, Hulkenberg replied: “I don’t know, to be honest right now, if the halo blocked me or not.
    Rather than giving a definitive answer, I think it would have been more responsible of Whiting to say something along the lines of I don’t think so but we have to analyze the data to be sure. With his answer and in light of Nico’s assessment, it seems like Whiting is trying to deflect and quickly minimize any questions about the safety of the halo.

    1. Rather than giving a definitive answer, I think it would have been more responsible of Whiting to say something along the lines of I don’t think so but we have to analyze the data to be sure. With his answer and in light of Nico’s assessment, it seems like Whiting is trying to deflect and quickly minimize any questions about the safety of the halo.

      @velocityboy – In the past, Charlie has done what you’ve advised, deferring any speculation by saying the data needs to be looked at. So yes, its interesting that Charlie was quick to say this today.

      Maybe Charlie’s statements are based on some target extraction time that was met? Or maybe Charlie just wants to catch a flight home after this 21-race season!

      1. @velocityboy @phylyp I think Charlie was trying to say they have a procedure and it would have been followed, Halo or no Halo. The item didn’t make them any slower at following that procedure, therefore it did not delay Nico’s extraction.

        Note the exact wording of the quote: Charlie did not say anything about whether it delayed Nico’s own escape. He probably didn’t see it as relevant in context. (Admittedly, I thought Nico might have had a spinal injury in the first moments after the crash, in which case an attempted self-extrication would have been a lousy idea).

  4. Charlie must think we are blind. The halo clearly prevented Hulkenburg from getting out by himself. If the halo is there to create a bigger gap (it isn’t) the surely Nico would have gotten out or maybe he was simply enjoying warming his hands on the fire. Just say it as it is – in the FIAs opinion (I hold a different view) the risk of a driver burning to death because of the halo or of smaller debris deflecting off the halo into a driver is smaller than the risk of a wheel or large debris hitting them on their head if there was no halo. This obvious obfuscation simply undermines their argument and causes me to wonder further if the halo’s introduction was politically motivated after all. (It was).

    1. The halo’s introduction was……politically motivated?

      Wow. And I thought F1 fans weren’t delusional enough.

      1. Of course it was! It was introduced post Bianchi. Wheel strikes and close calls had happened before and nothing was done until the threat of litigation was thick in the air. Tell me why the topic of driver safety is not a political one. Cries of ‘delusional’ with an opinion you disagree with do nothing to further your own argument unless you add a reason why you think so.

        1. If drive safety is a political topic, then everything is, rendering your comment valueless.

          Drivers have lost their lives recently due to being hit with debris. Doing something about it isn’t political – it’s essential.

          1. I don’t understand your logic, but there we go. I don’t want to get into a slanging match. I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear.

            Let me try and explain what I mean by ‘politically motivated’. The halo was introduced after Jules Bianchi tragically lost his life. In my opinion this driver safety device was introduced by the FIA so that they can be seen to be doing something in response to his death. They also introduced the VSC, which I think has worked well. Both were politically motivated introductions as they are both measures that could have been introduced many years ago but weren’t. My concern is simple – that as many problems as the halo seeks to solve, it creates new ones. A driver stuck hanging like a cow on a spit is one of them. I am not anti-driver safety, but I am yet to be convinced that the halo is the panacea it is made out to be by Charlie Whiting et al.

            I hope that makes it more clear what I mean.

          2. aezy_doc – I think you make a very sound case… In any design process compromises always occur… thus one solution can easily cause another problem… and you go with the better compromise…
            This not delusional… ;-)

  5. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    25th November 2018, 19:11

    Asked whether the Halo delayed Hulkenberg’s extraction from the car, Whiting said: “Not at all.”

    He would have easily extracted himself otherwise. Alonso crawled out of a smaller space after his Australian aerobatics in 2016.

    Charlie’s agenda is laid bare in shooting from the hip here.

    1. @fullcoursecaution Alonso’s car was at a totally different angle though. It was tilted on it’s side which left room for him to get out. They have run test’s with the Halo with a car at that angle & the driver was able to get out in the same amount of time as Alonso did.

      With the angle Nico’s car was at today I don’t think he’d have been able to get out even without the Halo & if anything he’d have had even less room without the Halo as the front end of the car would have been lower down resting on the rollbar than it was resting on the front of the Halo.

    2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      25th November 2018, 19:23

      Having compared both incidents again @stefmeister is right about Alonso’s extraction space being the more generous of the two

      1. Is was.. but without Halo you have a fighting chance. With Halo a burning car is a deathtrap.

    3. @fullcoursecaution The FIA generally distinguishes between self-extrication (which it calls “exiting”) and assisted extrication (which it calls “extrication”). The FIA isn’t directly responsible for the former in the sense that it is for the latter. Very careful wording was being used here.

  6. I don’t think the Halo had any impact at all as far as Nico’s ability to get out or not, It was just the angle the car landed. It didn’t end up like Alonso’s dis after his crash in Melbourne where the car was more on it’s side which left enough room to get out & which the test’s they did with the Halo showed it was just as possible for a driver to get out.

    Nico’s car today was totally upside down & with the back end resting on the barrier leaving it at such an angle where Halo or Not he wouldn’t have been able to get out. If anything without the Halo there would have been even less room for him to get out as the front of the car would have dropped a bit lower, Resting on the roll-bar rather than the front of the Halo as it was.

    1. The car was resting on the roll bar and the nose – the halo wan’t propping it up at all (and in fact didn’t look as if it had a scratch on it so can’t have any effect in the crash itself) so the car would not have been lower without it. All that would have happened is that there would have been a triangular space for Nico to crawl out of but because of the halo bisecting that space, he couldn’t get out. It’s plain as day.

      1. it definitely was not resting on the rollbar as that was off the ground with the t-bar camera hanging down from the cable.

        did seem to me that the very front part of the halo was resting on the ground.

        also seemed like he had just enough room to have got out if he had tried although he said during an interview on sky that he decided to wait for them to right the car as he was struggling to switch everything off and undo his belt buckle with the car as it was.

        1. OK t-cam then. Making it even less likely to be resting on the halo. See my pictures below. Halo blocks a crawl space Nico could have gotten out of. Thankfully we are arguing hypotheticals, but 90KG or more of highly combustible fuel makes me a tad nervous when the car is on fire and the driver can’t get out. Charlie dodged the question.

  7. How do I put a picture on here to show how the halo blocked Nico’s exit?

    1. In order to do that you must turn off the computer, step away from it, go outside and take a deep breath.

      1. Is this supposed to be helpful to anything…!?

  8. It seems that indeed Halo blocked.
    But the powers that be continue to not understand that most engineering decisions including safety ones have pros and cons. Even an helmet. Weighting those pros and cons is the key even if we only barely know the past odds, not the future ones.
    Or they think we the public are stupid.

    1. Yes and the halo has more pros.

  9. halo haters grasping at every straw i see.

    it made no difference today and has helped in other situations this year in f1 and f2 so it is time to get over it and stop complaining about safety improvements all the time. if you do not like the halo then do not watch it is this simple indeed.

    end of the day had halo been on the cars many lives would have been saved from justin wilson, henry surtees and more so i rather they still be here and the cars look a bit bad than the cars look better and drivers getting hit in head.

    the fia have all of the data, they have run all the scenarios in the testing and we have not so stop trying to act like experts when you are not i say!

    1. Such a weak argument – don’t like such and such, then don’t watch. Can you give examples from this year where it helped? I can think of one and at a stretch two. But to say it didn’t hinder today (albeit without consequence) is ignoring what is plainly in front of you.
      I agree it may well have saved other lives, but not the life that the FIA used to justify it’s inclusion.

      I am not anti-halo. I’m anti BS and I just wonder why Charlie takes us for muppets when it was plain to see that the halo blocked Nico’s exit from a burning vehicle. Thankfully the fire was extinguished.

    2. You miss the point. Everyone sees the benefit of halo overall, but it’s in an early stage of development and there are perhaps things that could be done to make extraction easier as well as protecting the head.

    3. Agreed, nothing new about the grasping at straws thing. They’ve been doing it from the start.

    4. I dare say halo haters have been praying for something to revive their pointless argument all year since their claims drivers wouldn’t be able to see the start lights proved as unfounded as the rest of their beliefs.

      1. Let’s be more specific… do you think the halo blocked Hulkenberg’s exit yes or no?

  10. I’ve always said that the upside down test they showed with no front suspension was inadequate. It was laughable when they said Halo would actually help in those situations, it clearly doesn’t.

    I agree with the above comment, fine the Halo has many benefits but less of the bs taking us for fools would be welcomed.

  11. I’m not a halo hater, but for Charlie to come out and say this when Nico clearly could not get out on his own, is a stupid comment.
    He should learn to keep his mouth shut until he has facts.

    I’m referring Charlie to the stewards. This is his 1st reprimand!

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      26th November 2018, 12:37

      I’m not a Halo hater either, and reckon it has shown it has more pros than cons on balance. The matter at hand is that that balance has to be recognised, not shut down entirely.
      Charlie has a duty to be impartial and transparent, and appears to be failing in that duty in the interest of protecting FIA from criticism and/or liability.

  12. Stephen Higgins
    25th November 2018, 22:39

    He couldn’t get out.

    End of.

    1. He wouldn’t have anyways without the halo, it was a harsh angle.

  13. A few burns from an extremely rare fire are preferable than a tire, another car, barrier hitting a drivers head which has very nearly happened over the years.

    1. tell that to Lauda..

  14. Halo was irrelevant today. They did exactly what they should have done – right the care first. It was unstable, just barely stuck to the wall. The were able to free it with just manpower. Hulk or any rescuers would have been in danger of being crushed if the car shifted as he came out.

    I was disappointed it took so long. The safety car should have an airbag or something to catch the car as it was rolled back over, and the entire thing should have been way faster. They need to rehearse this better.

    1. This airbag suggestion looks like a good idea…

  15. Oh Charlie please!
    The halo is wonderful in all almost all situations but this one.
    improved safety in other areas buys the driver some time.

  16. That’s not the true. Alonso could get out in AUS, Hulk cannot do it with Halo.

  17. The Halo really had no impact on Nico’s ability to get out of the car. Given the angle, it would have been nigh impossible for him to get out of the car on his own even without a halo.

    1. @mangyblacksheep – yes, it does seem that the contortion required for his torso and legs to come out through that gap unaided would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible.

      It’s not my life at risk, but I’d think the halo is adequate even for such a scenario, provided the marshalling is such that fire suppression teams and the medical team can reach any point on the circuit quickly enough (I think only specific marshal posts have full fledged equipment, others just have a marshal with a single extinguisher). I’d also think the risk of a fire from fuel is quite low (I’d presume there are inertial cutoff valves similar to road cars), but its worth examining the risk of fire from oil (given the coolers are in the sidepods, there’s a risk that flammable oil is closer to the driver) and maybe burns from the coolant (also routed through the sidepod).

      In all, I’m happy that there have been a few incidents in various series that have allowed the experts to see real-world examples of the halo, and to determine if further design changes are warranted.

  18. I find it amazing that everyone has become an F1 driver extraction expert based on the limited Information available to us. No two accidents are the same and trying to compare one to another from a driver extraction perspective is also pointless. How about everyone be happy that he walked away unhurt and leave the analysis of the crash (which I’m sure will be super thorough) to be done by the experts and not couch comment ‘experts’.

  19. I respect Charlie but he’s talking out of his proverbial here.

    We’ve seen single-seater drivers escape the car in far more difficult positions than this pre-halo. The genuine fear in Nico’s voice when he realised the car was on fire and he was trapped was chilling.

    Luckily the fire was extinguished quickly and Nico was conscious after the crash. However neither of those factors can be taken for granted. I’m not saying the Halo isn’t a safety improvement overall, but denying there are downsides and/or room for improvement is pig headed.

    1. “denying there are downsides and/or room for improvement is pig headed”

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