Romain Grosjean crash, Bahrain International Circuit, 2020

F1’s new ‘Halo 4’ for 2022 draws on lessons from Grosjean’s crash and more

2022 F1 season

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Formula 1 will introduce a new, fourth version of its Halo safety device next year designed to withstand even more serious crashes.

The latest iteration of the design will draw on lessons learned from the most serious crashes seen in F1 and other series which use the device. This includes one of the most astonishing escapes of recent years, Romain Grosjean’s fireball shunt in last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Haas driver suffered a head-on, 67G impact with a barrier which sheared his car in two and caused a huge fire. Grosjean survived but suffered burns to his hands which prevented him from competing in the final two rounds of the championship.

The FIA’s report on Grosjean’s crash found his Halo and other safety equipment performed as designed. It also identified 22 areas of improvement to all aspects of driver safety.

The Halo was introduced in 2018 following development and testing at the Cranfield Impact Centre at Cranfield University. Clive Temple, Motorsport MSc programme director and senior lecturer at the university, told RaceFans coming revisions to the design for next year will not only make it stronger but also improve its integration with F1 cars, which will be designed to a drastically different set of technical regulations.

2022 F1 car model, Silverstone, 2021
F1’s new-look 2022 cars will also have stronger Halos
“What we’re looking at is a much stronger device and a device that is going to be integrated into the 2022 car with all the changes that the car will have in relation to what we’re currently seeing in F1,” said Temple.

“That’s because these safety devices are integral to the vehicle itself. You’ve got to make sure that takes place in a way that, particularly where the fixings are concerned, there’s no issue regarding potential shearing, et cetera. So that is a very critical part of the Halo consideration.”

The Halo is mounted to a chassis at three points, one in front of the driver and two on either side of the cockpit. Grosjean’s car penetrated the barrier during the crash, causing the middle rail to give way. The Halo and its foremost mounting point withstood the force of its impact with the barrier as it split apart, leaving Grosjean’s survival cell lodged within.

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The Bahrain crash was one of the most extreme real-world tests a Halo has been subjected to. Temple said its interaction with other safety systems was key to sparing Grosjean from serious injury or worse.

Halo protected Grosjean as barrier split
“You can’t always test for every eventuality because the angle a car might hit a barrier, for example in the Grosjean case, or have a coming together with another car, that’s highly variable,” he explained. “So you’re always looking at the best-case scenario, which will suit a number of impacts: different angles, different locations of the vehicle in relation to the object.

“What was clear was that the mounting system that was devised, when the situation arose with the Grosjean crash, that demonstrated that it was very much fit for purpose because we all saw a system – not just the Halo, but the whole vehicle and the barrier and what the driver was wearing – all coming together to create a survival scenario.

Crashes have shown Halo is “fit for purpose” – Temple
“I would hate to think what might have happened if that been a few years earlier when we didn’t have these sorts of devices on the cars. Going further back in time nobody, I don’t think, would have survived a crash like that.”

The ever-rising weight of Formula 1 cars means the Halo will have to withstand higher impact forces. The minimum weight limit will rise to 790 kilograms next year and teams are pushing for a higher level to reduce costs.

“For 2022, what we are looking at is Halo four, as they call it, and it will be a stronger device able to withstand a higher loading,” said Temple.

Lessons will also be drawn from more recent collisions, such as at the Italian Grand Prix earlier this month, when Max Verstappen’s Red Bull landed on top of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes in what Temple described as an “unusual” crash.

Verstappen landed on Hamilton at Monza
“There have been some that are similar, but I think you have to treat every crash as a single entity in its own right, because as I mentioned earlier, there’s different angles that you have to take into consideration, speeds, all of those things that are key factors where you look at the the science and the engineering and the underpinning maths and physics.

“With this one in particular, I think one of the key things was we saw a car absolutely on top of another car and there was no real issues. No doubt, as Hamilton expressed, he had been physically shaken up and probably mentally shaken up by it. But he was attempting, as we saw, to actually drive out of the situation.”

Crashes such as these, plus Fernando Alonso’s collision with Charles Leclerc at Spa two years ago and Tadasuke Makino’s escape from a Formula 2 crash at the Circuit de Catalunya the same year, are “testimony to the device being fit for purpose when integrated into the vehicle itself”, said Temple.

The FIA is yet to officially confirm details of its plans for future developments of the Halo.

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The aesthetics of the Halo had many detractors when it was first introduced, including Mercedes team principal and Cranfield honorary doctorate Toto Wolff. “He said he’d like to take a chainsaw to it” remembered Temple. “There were other very negative comments. I must admit I also thought ‘Hmm, not sure about this’.”

Leclerc’s Halo protected him in Spa 2018 crash
However the clear evidence of the necessity of the system and its performance has won over its critics, Temple believes.

“There was a lot of negativity as there quite often is regarding safety-related matters. We only have to go back to the late part of the sixties and remember that Jackie Stewart was given short shrift by quite a lot of people in Formula 1 and particularly journalists when he was embarking on a safety campaign that was very necessary.

“And it soon became apparent, I think, to people, that making these systems actually able to do what they’re designed to do is the most critical thing. You have to forget some of the aesthetics, et cetera, considerations and recognise that safety is paramount.”

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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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44 comments on “F1’s new ‘Halo 4’ for 2022 draws on lessons from Grosjean’s crash and more”

  1. It’s great that they are taking data and refining the halo to offer ever better protection. But Formula 1 is getting desperately close to negligence if they don’t move to an Aeroscreen-like design that also protects against debris strikes in short order.

    1. @proesterchen
      That’s a very tuff issue.
      Debree threats like the one in the Massa accident pretty much never occur. IndyCar had more reasons to add the screen component to the halo.
      And the halo wouldn’t have saved Henry Surtees from dying, because as have just seen in the Verstappen/Hamilton collision – the drivers are still vulnerable to threats from above. And those are incomparably more frequent. Will you call it negliegent to still have open cockpits in F1, though?

      1. After the Massa incident they improved the helmet structure and specifically the visor. I believe the current visors can withstand a hit like Massa had.

        1. Improved protection was added to the visor after the Massa incident. This has now been moved to the helmet itself.

    2. I agree. I think if we see a debris strike like Massa’s there’ll be some serious questions to answer, and possibly litigation, as to why a race proven safety feature wasn’t being used.

      1. One big issue aero screen has is cooling and they don’t seem to have solved that.

        Reply moderated
      2. Drivers sign a waiver surely?? Racing is dangerous. All these threats of litigation and suing are not part of the sport and hopefully never will be.

        1. MSO, the drivers do not sign away all legal rights, and there have been examples of litigation in the event of serious injury or even fatal accidents.

          You can point to cases such as Mark Donohue, where he died due to cranial injuries he suffered after a tyre blowout. His family launched legal action against Goodyear and Penske for negligence, winning damages from both parties – Goodyear and Penske did initially appeal, before eventually settling the case out of court with his family before a judgement was reached in the appeal hearing.

          In more recent times, we had the case of de Villota, where legal action was initiated by the family and eventually the case was settled by mutual agreement between the two parties, and Jules Bianchi’s family initiating legal action back in 2016.

          1. Fatality can make me feel guilty.

        2. MSO Your legal rights can’t be signed away.

    3. Add a bit of a roof for incomming debris (or max) from above too. Call it LMP class and let them use a single engine a year so thay have to save instead of race even more bit it resembles endurance racing even more

  2. One thing.. Keep the Halo clean and prohibit all kind of aero stuff on it.
    It seems dangerous and if nobody can use this area there is nothing lost.

    1. And put the driver’s name on it for easy identification when viewing onboard cameras. I have no idea why this isn’t a required thing.

      Reply moderated
  3. Regarding the aesthetics, I still think there is room for improvement without compromising the effectiveness of the system. We saw how the HANS device went from a very bulky attachment that wouldn’t even fit in an F1 cockpit when first introduced to something that is barely noticeable now. And they have done that without compromising the core safety requirements of the device. I hope that the halo can undergo similar refinement over the upcoming years.

    1. Completely agree. While improvements to its safety credentials are obviously great, I’m more interested in seeing how it looks. It love to see it move streamlined to fir the car profile better. i think one of the reasons it sticks out is because the arms are round cylinders. When even the steering axels on some of the cars have an aerodynamic shape, it seems crazy that the halo, a part causing high pressure airflow, doesn’t.

      1. one problem that will never quite be solved is the on-board shots. it’s an undeniable fact that the Halo has ruined them and it’s really what I hate the most about it. on the cockpit cam it looks like there’s a toilet seat fixed above the driver’s head

        there’s no way around it unfortunately. and if there’s no solution it’s not a problem… still I miss the on-boards

        1. I don’t mind the onboards actually. The camera is mounted high enough that you can still see the the front of the car and the front tyres. Plus the Halo has actually led to a pretty cool TV graphic design. The current layout with the “rear view mirror” and driving telemetry is, in my opinion, some of the best broadcast graphics ever produced.

        2. Easy solution is to stick a camera on the front arm of the halo

          1. yes but then you no longer see the driver steering the wheel

  4. It appeared in the slow-motion videos that Hamilton received/almost received a bump on the head from Verstappen’s rear tire. Wouldn’t that require the halos to go marginally higher, by an inch or so?

    1. I’d think so as well. Lewis is also notably one of the shorter drivers on the grid, I wonder if that helped in that scenario as well.

      I have to admit that when halo was introduced I was not a fan, but it has proven its worth many times since the introduction and I am glad that it is that way.

      1. Yep, if you look at some of the other drivers, their heads stick up noticeably more in the cockpit than Hamilton’s. If Hamilton’s head was hit by Verstappen’s wheel, which appears to be the case, it would have been significantly worse for a taller driver. That should certainly be considered for future iterations.

      2. Agreed – when first proposed/introduced. I too wasn’t a fan, thinking that the single middle support/bar would be the biggest impediment to driver performance.

        Turns out this halo thing is a huge safety improvement. No one needs to die needlessly in the demonstration of sheer skill.

    2. The drivers have a limited range of movement while strapped in the car. There is not much a driver can do if a car’s wheel comes on his head. That is about the only position the driver is prone.

      No doubt, as Hamilton expressed, he had been physically shaken up and probably mentally shaken up by it. But he was attempting, as we saw, to actually drive out of the situation.”

      This section appears to justify the safety of the current set up which I don’t think prove anything.
      People have been known to walk away from major accidents only to develop pain or other complications later. The driver is not completely safe even with the halo but he is much safer than in previous times. So science did play a major part, but luck was the final factor that ensured both drivers walked out of this one.

  5. I didn’t like it either, but I’m glad to have been proven wrong – I can’t imagine a modern open single seater without it now.

  6. we want an event spectators can go to (not virtual although these aren’t bad) and we want to see wheel to wheel action and drivers going at each other. We want it to be insanely fast, loud, but also safe. So every year/decade more is added to the car to make them safer. I’m not complaining but where does it end?

    1. I don’t think it does. You can always do things better. The gains now days are certainly in much smaller increments but I think we learn as we go, especially when we get unusual accidents that hadn’t really been considered (the best example I can think of is the change of marshalling posts after the 2001 Australian Grand Prix).

    2. Or “greener”… bye bye awesome screeming f1 rngine sound, bye bye goosebumps. It was nice for as long as it was. The sound aloneade them 1000kmh faster , or at least for the onlooker

  7. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    22nd September 2021, 17:07

    IMO one disadvantage of the halo is that it has potential to trap the lower part of the tire into the cockpit in case of an incident akin to Max’s & Lewis’ crash. The momentum is what kept the RB going forward, but at slightly lower speeds and at the correct angle, the tyre was bound to get lodged between the two side arms of the halo on top of Lewis’ head. With a taller driver like Ocon or Russell, it is possible it would have ended with more than just a bruised neck.

    F1 has a great 360 deg video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c21mcgGjbqU

    1. I think you are very right here !
      this is the next most vulnerable point: above the head

  8. Glad the halo exists. Now, if only F1 would mandate teams to keep it black colored, without any markings on it, that would improve the look of the cars significantly.

  9. Everyone notice the ruckus about halo predictably went away after about the first race.

    Does anybody even notice them anymore?

    It’s also ironic that halo saved the bacon of Grosjean and Hamilton, two of the vocal opponents of it.

    1. That’s because Hamilton whines about litetally everything..even when he wins he whines about it

  10. In a discussion on a different website about the halo, someone mentioned Francois Cevert. I recommend a google for those who may be unaware. He is the reason Jackie Stewart is so adamant in his position. The similarities between Cevert’s death to Grosjean’s accident is eerie considering the massively different conditions of each driver after their respective incidents.

    I used to be critical of the halo, but the circumstances of Cevert’s death changed my mind. I won’t go into the details. Again, I recommend a google.

    1. It was horrible. But it must be said Jackie Stewart started his campaign well before then. I believe it was his near-death crash at Spa in 1966 that really got him going. There’d already been plenty of underlying concerns about track safety particularly from Jim Clark who hated racing in Belgium, yet still won there plenty of times. The Cevert accident probably wiped any doubt from Stewart’s mind that retirement was the right option.

      1. indeed @tommy-c, Jon, Cevert’s death was horrible, and I am sure that not only did it quite likely reinforce Stewart’s mind as to what he needed to do, but it probably also convinced enough people that he was right to enable him to finally get F1 moving into the direction to where we now had Grosjean escape as well as he did from his accident.

        For me the data from the Halo before it came in already made me convinced we couldn’t do without it, now we had the device to do this job, and I am very glad that we have had it these last few years. Sure safety has also contributed to heavier cars, in turn leading to a need for more reinforcement, but that too seems like a reasonable price to pay.

  11. “You have to forget some of the aesthetics, et cetera, considerations and recognise that safety is paramount.”

    I lived through the agonizing slow development of 5 mph bumpers on road cars – giant hunks of rubber appended to the front and rear that destroyed the looks and balance of the vehicle as designed – to today’s ‘crumple zones’ and survival cells…Driver survivability is higher but writing off an entire vehicle in a low-speed road accident is far more common.

    As long as the safety device is well-integrated, the fans can accept it, I hope the work continues. However, if safety is always paramount, why should anyone race at all? When will FIFA require helmets to reduce concussions in your football or we Americans ban our style of football altogether.

    Reply moderated
  12. It’s funny how jarring the halo appeared when we first saw it on all the cars in 2018 but now I find it jarring seeing the pre-2018 cars as the drivers just look so incredibly vulnerable. Amazing how perceptions change! Is it just me?

    1. I’m with you. I actually like the alien-carapace details of the modern cars.

    2. @tommy-c I was one of those detractors voicing a strong negative opinion on the halo. I vividly remember first seeing it in ’18 and not liking it but not totally jarred either from it; as before it arrived there was so much discussion and reasoning about it before the season that it was pretty hard to not justify it. Fast forward to now, I cant say enough about how relieved I was wrong being a detractor and very glad to seeing it being used and how many lives it has already saved.

      I will admit I do prefer the look of the pre-halo cars but we must move forward.

  13. I hope it is better than 343 Industry’s Halo 4.

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