The Halo was first introduced in Formula One in the year 2016 before it became mandatory two years later in 2018 in order to protect drivers heads from flying debris or the car flipping. After years of research, the Halo was discovered to be the only device capable of deflecting a wheel fired at it at 150mph. The structure is made up of grade 5 titanium that is widely used in the aerospace industry and is known for its high strength and stiffness despite being light in weight. How a simple and small structure could prove to be such an essential part of a Formula 1 car seems completely unrealistic but time and again it has proved to be a life saver. With that being said, let’s have a look at the times when the Halo saved the lives of Formula 1 drivers.
Formula 1 rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen clashed while battling for the win during the 2021 Italian Grand Prix that resulted in Verstappen’s Red Bull car flying over the top of Hamilton’s Mercedes. When this incident took place, one of Verstappen’s wheels made light contact with Hamilton’s helmet but the majority of the impact was buffeted by the Halo. Mercedes F1 Team Principal Toto Wolff believed the Halo definitely saved Hamilton’s life while the driver himself said he felt incredibly blessed that someone was watching over him that day.
At the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc was contesting his rookie F1 season with Alfa Romeo Sauber when he was involved in a huge accident at Spa-Francorchamps. While braking for La Source, Leclerc’s Alfa Romeo was hit by Fernando Alonso’s flying McLaren which had been hit by Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault. As the McLaren flew over the top of Leclerc, Alonso’s front right wheel impacted with Leclerc’s Halso as the two cars crunched together. Thanks to the Halo, no one had any injuries. This was also when Toto Wolff, an initial critic of the Halo, admitted that the device had spared Leclerc from a huge injury.
The 2022 British Grand Prix proved to be a reminder of how important the Halo is in an F1 car. At the start of the Grand Prix, George Russell’s Mercedes appeared to hit Zhou Gyanyu’s Alfa Romeo that sent the Chinese driver and his car flying across the gravel trap. The car was upside down before flipping itself over the tyre barrier and getting stuck upside down between the barrier and dancing on the first corner. THe race was immediately red-flagged and Russell ran to check on the Chinese driver but once again the Halo proved to be it’s worth as the driver left the car without a scratch.
Romain Grosjean’s crash at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix became one of the most dramatic moments in sporting history as the French driver walked away with minor injuries from an incident that could have been fatal. The former Haas driver was coming out of Turn 2 when he misjudged a move across the track in front of Daniil Kvyat that spun his Haas around and sent it head-on into the barriers. The crash showed that the Halo acted to pierce and slice the metal barriers in front of Grosjean’s head that allowed his helmet to pass through without injury. Had the Halo not been there, Grosjean would likely have suffered fatal injuries.
[Featured Image Credit: @vbspurs]