Halo looks set to be adopted for 2018
Despite concerns about driver access and the view through mirrors, driver feedback in practice sessions is mostly positive
Formula 1 is pressing ahead with plans to introduce the halo head-protection system for 2018, after tests in practice sessions at grands prix indicated that there were no major problems. The halo had been slated for 2017, but the F1 Strategy Group decided to delay its introduction for a year so further research could be conducted into its potential consequences.
Part of their concerns related to the effect the halo would have on driver visibility, but this has since been proved not to be an issue, following a series of runs by various teams and drivers in practice sessions in recent races.
Lewis Hamilton said he “barely noticed” the halo when he tried it in Singapore, saying it blocked his view of the timing screens when sitting in the pits and out of his rear view mirrors, but there was no problem out on track. Hamilton, who was outspokenly opposed to the halo when he rst saw it, but became one of its more vocal proponents once he understood its safety aspects, went as far as to say he felt he could have run with it for the remainder of the weekend without any problems.
Daniel Ricciardo also told the FIA that the halo blocked his view through his mirrors. Fernando Alonso said he felt driver access needed to be improved.
Insiders say the view in the mirrors is a nonissue because it is simply a function of how the halo has to be mounted on 2016 cars; its rear mounting points will be in a different place when it is formally adopted. As for driver access, the FIA believes that slightly increased difculty in getting in and out of a car is a small price to pay for the improved safety the device provides. However, the re suffered by Kevin Magnussen’s Renault in practice in Malaysia, although a rare occurrence, will doubtless lead to a rethink on this latter point.
The halo has been proven in FIA tests to provide close to 100 per cent protection in all incidents in which a large object – such as a wheel or a wall – threatens to intrude on the cockpit space. In addition, there is a 17 per cent reduction in risk from small objects, such as the suspension part that fractured Felipe Massa’s skull at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.
The likelihood of the halo being the safety device that is ultimately adopted is only increased by the fact that there are no other alternatives in the pipeline. The intention is for all drivers to try it before the end of the season, and they have each been given a questionnaire to ll in to record their observations.
Lewis Hamilton said he “barely noticed” the halo when he trialled it in Singapore