The HALO cockpit has been a staple of F1 for the last few seasons – and with good reason.
It helped save Lewis Hamilton from a serious injury after he crashed at last year’s Italian Grand Prix.
And it appears to have saved the life of Zhou Guanyu after he fell at the start of the 2022 British Grand Prix.
What is the Halo Cockpit system?
Safety is paramount in Formula 1 and unfortunately some over the years have not been as lucky as Roman Grosjean was at the Bahrain GP last year.
Jules Bianchi was killed after losing control of his Marussia in treacherous conditions after a crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
And his mother was quick to point out that the halo – which was not a feature of the cars six years ago but was being worked on by the FIA - “saved Romain’s life”.
Introduced back in 2018, the halo is an additional safety feature now featured on all F1 cars, acting as a titanium ring to protect the driver’s cockpit.
It is designed to prevent drivers from being injured by flying debris or suffering head trauma, as in the tragic Bianchi case.
The F1 governing body took a lot of time to research and test the design, which slightly affects the drivers’ field of vision.
When it was launched there was also criticism from some fans who believed the hefty new structure around the cockpit meant they couldn’t see the racers properly.
World Champion Lewis Hamilton already revealed in 2018 that he thinks this could be the first step towards an enclosed cockpit around the driver, but that hasn’t materialized yet.
He said: “I think we’re moving towards a closed cockpit, I think that would look better, there are some really great closed cockpit concepts online.
“It’s difficult because when they introduced it and talked about it, they mentioned a 17 percent improvement in safety and it’s difficult to really ignore that.
“It’s definitely not looking good, we know that, we said that.”
How did it save Grosjean in the Bahrain crash?
Grosjean’s car broke cleanly in half from the force of the impact, measuring the impact at a staggering 53G.
Despite the fireball consuming the wreckage of his vehicle, Grosjean was saved from severe burns by his four layers of protective clothing and was able to get to safety.
The ruggedly built halo is designed to absorb the full force of the impact first, protecting the rider’s head from serious injury.
In this case it seems to have worked as Grosjean only suffered minor burns on his hands and miraculously avoided major trauma to his body or head.
Ross Brawn, F1 chief executive, insisted after the race that without the halo we could have witnessed another tragedy.
He said: “There is absolutely no doubt that the halo was the factor that saved the day – and saved Romain.”
And world champion Hamilton said after winning the race in Sakhir: “It was such a shocking picture to see.
“His car, the cockpit, I don’t know what Gs he pulled but I’m just so grateful that the halo worked.
“I’m grateful the barrier didn’t cut off his head. It could have been so much worse.”
Grosjean was flown to hospital immediately after the accident and praised the F1 safety system for saving his life.
He said: “I wasn’t in favor of Halo a few years ago but I think it’s the greatest thing we’ve brought to Formula 1 and without it I couldn’t be speaking to you today.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/motorsport/1881675/f1-halo-system-lewis-hamilton-zhou-guanyu/ What is the halo? F1 cockpit system explained and why drivers criticize it