That gloriole is a curved crash protection system that is positioned on the roof of Formula 1 cars above the driver’s helmet. Launched in 2016, Halo is designed to protect drivers from flying particles in a collision or when a car rolls over. It weighs about 10 kg.
Drivers have been hit by flying debris from their vehicles in front and involved in several accidents, sometimes tragically. During practice for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, Brazilian driver Felipe Massa was injured by a spring from Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn.
During a Formula 2 race at Brands Hatch, Henry Surtees, the son of 1964 Formula 1 World Champion John Surtees, was hit by a tire on his crash helmet and died as a result. The Halo saved Chinese Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu at Sunday’s British Grand Prix after his car was besieged during the accident.
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5 riders whose lives the Halo saved
1. Romain Grosjean at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix
One of the most dramatic incidents in motorsport history in 2020 was the horrific crash of Romain Grosjean at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The French driver survived the accident with minor injuries, but three years earlier the same accident would certainly have killed him. On the first lap, Grosjean exited Turn 2 when he botched a maneuver in front of AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat, spinning his Haas around and driving it head-on into the barriers at a sharp angle.
Grosjean’s car broke in half as a result of the violent contact, causing the survival cell to breach the wall while Grosjean was still inside. Grosjean hit the barrier with 67G and burned the split fuel cell as he came to a stop on the other side. Luckily, he was able to dodge the cockpit, scale the barricades in the inferno, and avoid the collision before the adrenaline rush of the situation overwhelmed him.
2. Lewis Hamilton at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix
While the accident between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen during the 2021 Italian Grand Prix initially appeared harmless and the accident looked more ridiculous than serious, the importance of the Halo’s contribution only became clear once it was analyzed in more detail. Verstappen’s Red Bull was thrown into the air and over the roof of Hamilton’s Mercedes during the first collision at the entrance to Turn 2 at Monza. Verstappen’s car then landed on his competitor’s roll bar and halo.
The halo, which had previously protected Hamilton’s head, prevented Hamilton from suffering catastrophic head trauma when the right rear wheel of Verstappen’s car spun over the top of the halo and Hamilton’s helmet. Without a doubt, the halo prevented a far worse situation when Hamilton’s helmet was pushed down off the wheel.
3. Charles Leclerc at the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix
When he was involved in a catastrophic collision at Spa-Francorchamps in 2018, Charles Leclerc was racing in his first Formula 1 season with Alfa Romeo Sauber. Leclerc’s car was hit by Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, who was airborne after being hit by Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault while braking for La Source.
The final investigation into the collision had concluded that after weeks of examining video evidence and information from the vehicles involved, the Halo played a crucial role in keeping Leclerc from harm or worse. The cockpit protection system not only survived the 58kN impact to Alonso’s right front wheel structurally undamaged and in working order, but also helped steer the McLaren sideways after the incident. Sauber was able to eliminate the halo without a hitch.
4. Alex Peroni at Monza in 2019
Alex Peroni, a young Australian driver competing in the 2019 Formula 3 Championship at Monza, crashed into a sausage curb at the exit of the Parabolica. As he flew over it, his car was thrown up in what looked like a video game accident.
His vehicle fell headfirst into the tire barricades, bounced up, and then came to a stop high up. After the frightening collision, Peroni was able to exit the vehicle and eventually pulled away from the competition to return to Australia with a damaged spine.
5. Zhou Guanyu at the 2022 British Grand Prix
The Chinese driver’s Alfa Romeo F1 car was overturned in a collision involving George Russell and Pierre Gasly on the approach to turn one of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone Circuit. He then rolled over the crash barriers and came to rest between the safety net and the tire stack. While struggling to avoid the Zhou incident, Alex Albon, Sebastian Vettel, Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon were involved in their own crash and the race was immediately red flagged.
Medical teams quickly began treating Zhou after pulling him from the vehicle and transporting him to Silverstone’s medical center. After leaving the hospital, the Formula 1 rookie was eventually discharged and deemed healthy. “The track marshals and medical team were fantastic with their quick response and I also owe a debt of gratitude to the FIA and Formula 1 for all the work they have done and continue to do to improve the safety of our cars: The Halo saved me today and it shows that every step we take to improve our cars leads to real, valuable results.” Zhou said, expressing gratitude for the halo’s contribution to his smooth recovery from the accident.
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