In Formula 1 today, driver safety is the highest priority, with the controversial introduction of the halo device in 2018 having been done to further improve the safety of the competitors.
When it was originally being considered by the sport in 2016, it was highly criticised by the drivers, with Lewis Hamilton having gone as far as saying on social media in 2016, “Please no! Safety is fine as it is”.
The introduction of the halo, though, has saved several lives, including Hamilton’s.
The seven-time World Champion would’ve been crushed by Max Verstappen’s car at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix had it not been for the halo, with the 38-year-old admitting at the time that he felt “very, very fortunate today. Thank God for the Halo which saved me, and saved my neck.”
Romain Grosjean is another driver to have been saved by the device despite having been against its inclusion into the sport, with the Frenchman having been saved by it in his horrifying crash at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.
“I wasn’t for the halo some years ago, but I think it’s the greatest thing that we brought to Formula 1 and without it I wouldn’t be able to speak to you today,” Grosjean said after his crash.
The halo device was actually designed by Mercedes interestingly, with the FIA having preferred the Germans design over Red Bull’s alternative, which was likened to a fighter jet canopy.
As proven countless times, the halo is immensely strong, thanks mostly to it being made from titanium.
The incredible strength of the halo device actually meant the chassis had to be strengthened, as revealed by Mercedes’ James Allison.
“We had to strengthen the design of the chassis so it would be able to take roughly the weight of a London double decker bus sitting on top of the halo,” said Allison.
In 2022, the halo came to the rescue once again at the British Grand Prix, with the device having saved Zhou Guanyu who suffered one of the biggest crashes in the history of Formula 1.
Zhou’s car barrel-rolled through the gravel trap at the opening corner, before flipping over the tyre barrier and hitting the Armco fencing, before his car finally came to rest between the tyre barrier and the fencing.
The Chinese driver admitted himself that the “halo saved me”, further highlighting the significant role the device has played since being introduced into the sport.
It’s actually very rare nowadays to see a modern Formula 1 car without the halo device, meaning it’s near impossible to see what the cars would look like without the safety feature.
Haas have shown, though, what their 2022 car looks like without the halo device, after posting an image of the VF-22 to Instagram.