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  • Writer's pictureAnna Krejčí

The story of halo

What exactly is the halo, where did it come from and was it worth it?

Formula one is one of the few sports that are not only about competing but also about the technological development. From improving the aerodynamics to tweaking the engine, the vehicles went from a top speed of 280 km/h to 375 km/h. But high speed like this inevitably brings risks. In order to keep the drivers safe, F1 had to come up with a lot of safety measures, one of them being the halo and that is what I’m going to talk to you about.

The halo was first constructed in 2015 by Mercedes and tested for the first time in 2016 by Ferrari. In 2018 it was officially introduced to the motorsport world of open-cockpit racing. It was made a mandatory safety precaution in Formula 1, Formula 2, Formula 3, Formula E and other single-seater series. It’s a crash protection barrier made from titanium that goes right above the driver’s head (from there came the name, halo) and protects it in crashes or from flying debris on track. Even though it only weighs around 7 kilos it can withstand the weight of a London double-decker bus and it should be able to withstand severe impacts without great damage.

However, as any great invention, even halo has faced criticism. People said that it ruins the aesthetics of the car and the “essence and purity” of the sport.

I would be lying if I denied that my first thought was “What is that thing and why is there? It looks hideous.”. But it was immediately proven to me that things are not always as they seem; the first appearance deceives many.

Since the introduction of the halo, many accidents occurred where it saved the drivers life. One accident that I will never forget is Romain Grosjean’s horrifying crash in the first lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2020. As Grosjean himself said he owes the halo his life, without it he would have ended up decapitated. Another incident where we were once again reminded of halo’s importance occurred few weeks ago during the race in Monza, where Max Verstappen’s rear tire ended up just above Lewis Hamilton’s head and would have broken his neck if it hadn’t been for the halo stopping it.

Another criticism, in my opinion a more valid one, that was raised after the introduction, was that it blocks the driver’s vision and could also prevent them from getting out the car quickly if something happens.

Due to the fact that it’s made from titanium, it doesn’t have to be very thick, so the pillar that goes in front of the driver’s head will pretty much disappear the same way your nose does when you look ahead. And if we take a look at the “immobility” problem, we have already seen many times that in real accidents, it’s not a problem for the drivers to get out the car.

I personally think that halo was a great step forward in the safety of F1 cars. It has proven itself many times already, and I hope that we don’t have to see another crash to realize its efficiency.


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