Verstappen: I thought the Halo was ugly but it saved Grosjean’s life

2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen said he was grateful the Halo helped protect Romain Grosjean in his dramatic Bahrain Grand Prix crash, despite having previously criticised the device.

The Red Bull described Grosjean’s crash as “a crazy incident”. The Haas chassis broke through a barrier and caught fire. It took Grosjean almost half a minute to escape the blaze.

“When I saw the flames, that was pretty scary to watch,” said Verstappen. “But luckily of course he jumped out of the car himself and that was the most important.”

Grosjean’s escape from the shocking crash shows “how much [safety] has improved” said Verstappen. The Halo, which was added to Formula 1 cars in 2018, has been the most visible safety change of recent seasons, but was criticised by several drivers when it was introduced.

“I think the Halo today saved his life,” said Verstappen. “In the beginning when it came onto the cars I was quite critical about it, that it looked ugly. But you can’t say anything about the safety because today it definitely saved Romain, so I’m very happy about that.

“My thoughts are with him and, of course, his family as well because they are watching in front of TV and that’s never nice. So I hope that he will recover very soon and he will be back with us.”

Grosjean suffered burns to his hands and is expected to be released from hospital in Bahrain tomorrow. However he will not take part in this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix. Pietro Fittipaldi has been announced as his replacement for the race.

Other prominent F1 figures have credited the Halo’s role in the crash. Formula 1 director Ross Brawn said there was “absolutely no doubt” of the life-saving role it had performed.

Lewis Hamilton said the Halo “for sure would have definitely have helped in saving his life today.”

Kevin Magnussen, who like his team mate Grosjean criticised the Halo when it was introduced, also said he was grateful for it yesterday.

“I’m just very, very happy to see Romain walk away from that crash,” said Magnussen. “It was unbelievable. To see him survive that is frankly a miracle.

“I’m so happy that the Halo was introduced, and it was on his car. Without it I’m sure it would have been very different. That’s really all from me today. I’m just happy that we’ve still got Romain.”

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2020 Bahrain Grand Prix

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27 comments on “Verstappen: I thought the Halo was ugly but it saved Grosjean’s life”

  1. Max’s objections to the halo before and after it was introduced were commonplace amongst drivers. Grosjean himself included.
    Testosterone filled F1 drivers in their teens and twenties are not the best people to decide on safety.
    This accident illustrates the wisdom of the FIA in over ruling the protests of the drivers.
    Their opinion is of course important but they don’t understand the detail and issues fully, the crash data and accident postmortems.
    Well done to the safety team in the FIA and all the engineers who conceived, designed and built the Halo.
    The lessons learned from Maria, Felipe and Jules’s accidents have saved Romain.

  2. I’ve been suggesting that a canopy is a better solution. Today I eat crow because if the canopy HAD BEEN USED ITS LIKELY RG would not have survived being wedged into the Armco barriers. I recall when Cevere was horrible sliced in half having made contact going over the Armco. Until yesterday the very idea of going through the layers of Armco wasn’t even considered. Today Armco are no longer the safer barriers not when a car at racing speed can penetrate them.
    They must be replaced everywhere F1races. This must happen before any 2021 events are green lit. Look how easy it was to replace the old school barriers with concrete blocks. Took ten minutes to replace the damage with race ready connecting blocks.
    I think the FIA needs to lay the law down.
    If there is racing in 2021 (Covid rise across the earth again) that gives Australia about a three month head start.
    From a liability standpoint race nations should be waving the concern flag. Help us make our racing facility safe for all who race and for all who attend.
    24 hours later the image still haunts.

    1. Let’s not jump the gun and start calling for changes before the FIA does the investigation. We all want the drivers to be safe, but knee-jerk reactions could make things worse overall even if there was a problem in this unique situation.

    2. To me the issue was more with the placement of the barrier, rather than the barrier itself. Why does it need to come towards the track at such an angle like that? We have seen from Raikonnens crash at Silverstone, and even Albons crash from Friday that this is not a new thing. I understand the need for access but why cant the barriers be like this
      track |
      track |
      track \
      track |
      instead of this
      track |
      track |
      track \
      track |
      Seems obvious but why would the circuit designer seek to reduce the run off area?

      1. That didnt quite work as I was hoping! I was trying to suggest that the bit of barrier that needs to stick of for the access road should point away from the track rather than towards it.

        1. That would still put a convex angle facing the direction of travel, the important thing is to have no wall ends, but the second most important thing is to have no convex angles facing the drivers.

          It’s very clear that there are options to make all of the track as safe as it can be, but they cost money – which means either the circuit needs to spend it, or (more likely) Fom needs to put it’s hands into it’s pockets.

    3. Concrete blocks have as a downside that they will render the driver unconscious. Also not a good thing to happen while engulfed in flames.

      1. @f1osaurus I don’t want to speculate too much as that’s what the investigation is for but it is likely the car would not have burst into flames had it not been split into 2 pieces. The reason it looked like it split in 2 pieces was because the safety cell became wedged in the barrier but the rear was free to move and hence the mass and kinetic force of the rear end sheared the linkage to the safety cell. While concrete barriers would give less it would have allowed the car to “spring” away from the barrier which may have kept the chassis in one piece and the fuel unignited.

        This is why the investigation is so important, it maybe that a deformable barrier was better but should not be pierceable in the manner that barrier was.

        1. @slowmo True, the armco might have had a role in the fire starting. In the “after show” they remarked that Kubica’s car in Canada was similarly destroyed, but did not go up in flames.

          But yeah, lets see what the investigation tells them.

          1. Kubica’s car was no where near being ripped apart. I believe McNish his crash in Japan 2002 was close to ripping the car in half, but the engine was still hanging on, which was what led to the fire yesterday, apperently, was the ripping of the pipes from the engine to the fuel-tank.

      2. Yeah the dynamics of a crash are very difficult to predict and like you say, concrete walls have their own down sides. A concrete wall won’t ‘grab’ a car like the armco did, but the impact will still be massive and the car (and debris) could bounce back onto the live racing track, with equally serious consequences for the crashing car and other competitors. Fixing one problem can often cause another unintended result.

    4. So you ‘eat crow’ whatever on earth that means and then jump in with both feet again. Safety is a little more nuanced than that, there is an up and down side to everything, even tec pro will have flaws for certain types of crash.

      The next one I can see is cars parking on track in qually to find space or let someone through coming at speed. Just need a break on a car at the wrong time and thats another ‘why is this that or the other not different’ after the event and then we get knee jerk changes. Quick law is bad law. Nearly always

      1. Tony “ eating crow “ is a common phrase that refers to admitting to something a person has said. And by admitting it tells others that person was wrong. I said something that I shouldn’t have said.

        Here’s why….

        I believe the Halo has now shown that it’s the reason Roman is alive this morning. I still think the canopy is much better looking solution and solves many of the needs for driver protection plus at the time the Halo showed up many found it an awful looking thing to be added to a Racecar.

        Back to the event. Cant be too many who ever imagined a car getting stuck like the Haas was. The Halo created the gap he needed to survive.

        I eat crow because I selfishly suggested the canopy looked better but talked down on how awful the Halo seemed then. But no one had to ever test it like it was tested by a human yesterday.

        For that reason alone I said what I said Tony.

    5. STEVENHOLMES The canopy was and remains impossible to use on F1 cars as we know them, as the cockpit is just too narrow and there would be no accommodation for dealing with condensation, heat buildup etc etc. In order for them to use a canopy on an F1 car they would pretty much have to make the car into a WEC car.

      As to your suggestion of drastic replacement of Armco at all tracks etc etc, that’s not going to happen either. Sure I can see them reviewing barriers and their placement at all tracks, but it would be unrealistic to expect them to put bubble wrap around every track and make everything 100% safe. Let recall that the type of accident RG had and the way and angle he hit the armco was quite unique, and it started with him veering right quite abruptly, right into Kvyat. They cannot plan for every bonehead move a driver makes, and as we know the tracks have been made extremely safe throughout the years. Of course they can always find room for improvement, but I don’t see the knee-jerk and drastic reaction you are calling for happening.

      1. Look fair comments on your part but when Senna died racetracks all over the world were altered with many classic tracks and worse yet many of the great corners at many tracks were altered. His death rather quickly changed the minds of those who run racing facilities and the result was to actually get rid of the very reason they were popular, great demanding corners. You know this already so my point is to say that when the sport loses drivers the tracks often become easier to race on because of the knee jerk reaction. Watch the changes that will come to Bahrain. Certainly turn three will be modified. Be it the very corner but more than likely the area around the corner as cars are at speed Sponsors may reconsider their involvement if nothing is changed. How do you sell KFC if the drivers you sponsor in the race may get burned to death? Those situations force the hand of change but the whole world lost their minds after Senna. Racetracks must be upgraded to get license. Following the worst fire in decades expect changes again. Let those changes improve the sport not alter it so basic racing skillsets are replaced with fatter wallets. And then the rules get changed again because nobody can pass so they invent DRS Because of the fear of changes from another Senna situation. Lesser drivers become teammates because it’s easier with DRS to pass. What an insult. Change happens faster than your comment suggest.

  3. It still looks a bit odd but it saved a drivers life which is the most important thing.

  4. So many didn’t want the halo and was actually angry at it, for taking away the risk.

    Meaning they didn’t really want people to walk away from accidents like this.

    I guess they feel disappointed now.

    1. What a nasty and sarcastic remark. The world could do without. Nobody is disappointed grosjean walked away!

  5. I may be wrong here, but is it possible that the halo caused the the front half of the
    car to be wedged so firmly and quickly that the momentum in the (heavier?) rear part of the
    car caused the car to shear and separate and in turn expose the fuel systems.

    I think legacy barriers which were probably designed prior to the adoption of the halo, might need
    to be replaced or modified to take into account the piercing shape of the halo.

    I do NOT feel that concrete is a safe material for drivers travelling at such speeds. However I do feel that the barriers in question looked flimsy, and could be redesigned using interlocking panels so
    as to maintain a flexible barrier which would absorb some energy, whilst resisting penetration. But
    I say that from the safety of my armchair.

    I am not against the halo, I have always found it ugly but accepted it for safety’s sake, and
    in recent years not even noticed it any more through familiarity. I can see now why its open design might be preferred over a canopy in case of fire as I think STEVENHOLMES has identified.

    1. The nose was the piercing part. Without halo his helmet would take a hit and push through the barrier with the devastating consequences that would entail.

  6. Why this mutual exclusive rhetoric?
    It can be both aesthetically displeasing and life saving at the same time.

  7. Why is Verstappen singled out as an opponent of the halo and made a story of? Several were against, not just him and Grosjean:

    1. @balue I don’t think Max is being singled out, and he has only said he thought it was ugly. He was asked a question and he answered it, as I’m sure all drivers have been asked by now, just as they were back when the halo was being talked about and then introduced. But if indeed it can be shown he’s been singled out that might be because he isn’t afraid to speak his mind, so he makes for good sound bytes, but also he is a top driver and one of the future F1 icons. I suppose as well there is a chance that media are more interested in hearing what drivers who opposed the halo have to say, expecting that those who were all for it will have less potent comments to make on the subject now that we have all seen the halo tested to the ultimate extreme.

      1. Yes, I’ve seen articles about other drivers too these days, mostly about those who previously criticized the halo.

  8. If the situation were a little different Grosjean would not have walked away, even with the halo. In this day and age there is no need to put the driver in the car.

  9. Armco works fine when it’s parallel to the track – Romain’s angle of incidence combined with the change of angle of the fence due to the track access road allowed him to penetrate rather than glance the barrier.
    ie. Armco doesn’t belong on that particular section.

    Tilke/FIA needs to re-evaluate all the tracks.

    While they’re at it, if they’re going to have gaps they should make sure they’re wide enough to fit a telehandler or at least a pushed car through for recovery – rather than have the mini debacle at Monza we saw this year.

  10. The barrier is to protect the people outside the track and not the drivers.

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