Mere months away from it debut, needless to say, the HALO isn’t winning any fans in the F1 community. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff dislikes the Halo cockpit protection device. His Mercedes team is already hard at work trying to find the best way to incorporate the dreadful HALO into its 2018 design.
The FIA’s technical department has dedicated more than eight years of research into cockpit protection in single seaters. The FIA’s 2018 ruling makes the “dreadful HALO” mandatory on Formula One cars. The device’s primary function is to deflect flying objects away from the driver’s head. It is formed by a titanium structure wrapped in carbon fibre above the cockpit.
The FIA conducted around 17 scenarios of severe accidents. They found that the Halo would have protected the driver on 15 occasions. The other two provided a neutral outcome. Wolff does not deny that there is a need to improve driver safety, but he believes a more elegant solution must be found.
He said, “It’s a dreadful piece!. We’ve had it in the staff briefing and we’ve shown it. It’s a huge piece of metal, much too heavy, it feels completely alien and I’d like to saw it off if I could! But then we need to look after driver safety and if there is a device that helps to protect lives, then we need to put it on the car. Maybe in the future we can find a solution that is a little bit more aesthetically pleasing than the halo. In terms of aerodynamic development it didn’t interfere too much and everyone has the same problem.”
The HALO adds an extra few kilograms to the car so the minimum weight was increased by five kilograms next year. Wolff predicts that the actual weight of the Halo and its fittings to be around 10 kilograms. Mercedes have already worked hard to bring its car under the minimum weight limit in 2017. Over the winter, they will have to start from scratch in order to start the first race of the season without a weight penalty.
Wolff said, “With all the bolts and nuts it’s probably 10 kilos that you have up at the highest point in the car. So the centre of gravity moves up a large chunk and you need to compensate for that. So it’s all wrong!”