For fans watching F1 since 2017, they might be familiar with ‘Halo’. However, there’s a chance that the relatively new audience isn’t aware of it. Since it has become a part of the car now. However, people are scrambling to know more about the device that saved Romain Grosjean‘s life at Bahrain GP. So, what is Halo?
In simpler terms, it is the 3-legged curved bar that places in front of a driver’s cockpit. It’s made out of high strength titanium, and the weight of this device is roughly 9 kilograms. The primary function of this device is to protect the head of the drivers, and according to FIA, the survival chances of a driver go up by 17% when a car is equipped with it.
The FIA were proposing different systems around 2015 to make driving safer in F1. They were looking at previous incidents from falling debris of cars and drivers slamming headfirst into the barriers. Thus, they hoped to reduce the fatality rate if a similar incident was to happen. After several test runs, FIA officially brought the halo to F1 in 2018. Since then, it has been a part of F2, F3, and Formula E too.
It’s safe to say that people in the F1 circle weren’t a fan of Halo. It drew criticism for making the car ‘aesthetically unappealing’ and for adding to the weight of the car. The late Niki Lauda thought it destroyed the essence of racing and Lewis Hamilton belittled it as the ‘worst looking modification in F1 history’. However, the most notable remark came from Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff. Bashing it, he said –
“I’m not impressed with the whole thing, and if you give me a chainsaw, I would take it off. I think we need to look after the driver’s safety but what we have implemented is aesthetically not appealing.”
It’s in human nature to be reluctant to change. The Halo has been saving lives since coming to the fore. Most recently, it saved the Haas driver’s life in Bahrain. His car was piercing the lower half of the barrier with his head close to the upper half. The halo came to his rescue.
Credit where credit’s due. The FIA was brilliant in battling the early resistance. They are leading the quest for better safety in Formula 1, and long may it continue.