Debate: Nico Hulkenberg opening lap roll: F1 Halo a help or hindrance?
Posted By: Editor   |  26 Nov 2018   |  4:39 pm GMT  |  201 comments

After much furore at the start of the season over the halo head protection device, F1 has largely fallen silent on the subject since Charles Leclerc escaped serious injury at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix – thanks to the halo.

However the question of a driver’s ability to escape from an overturned car arose in Abu Dhabi; Nico Hulkenberg’s race was over after just half-a-lap following a dramatic collision with Haas driver Romain Grosjean at the turn eight-nine chicane.

The Renault was inverted and Hulkenberg feared the car could be on fire – he could not get out until the car was put back onto its wheels.

With the pair side-by-side on the first of the two back straights, Hulkenberg dived on the inside of Grosjean on the left-handed turn eight, only for both to run slightly wide into the corner. With Grosjean not giving up the position, he went for the inside of turn nine.

Probably looking to assert his position on the racing line, Hulkenberg took a relatively normal line through turn nine but, with Grosjean still by his side, the two came together.

Grosjean’s front-left wheel collided with Hulkenberg’s rear-right and, as is always a risk with open-wheel racing cars, it caused the Renault to be sent into a couple of nauseating rolls. The Renault came to rest upside down against the barrier.

The car landed with one of its rear wheels on top of the barrier, causing the Renault to rest at an awkward angle on top of the rollover hoop and the halo device.

Hulkenberg was unable to extricate himself from the car and, whilst he was physically fine, he was audibly very panicked when he spotted flames coming from the rear of his car.

“I’m hanging here like a cow. Get me out, there’s a fire. There’s a fire.”

Fortunately, the marshals were very quick to respond to the threat and any signs of fire were extinguished before they could take hold.

Once it was established that Hulkenberg seemed to have no injuries, the marshals were then able to right the car and allow the driver to be freed from the car.

Whilst Hulkenberg was completely fine and giving interviews not long afterwards – refusing to put any blame on Grosjean – and after the race he asked if he thought the halo device had hindered his escape.

“I don’t know, to be honest right now, if the halo blocked me or not,” said Hulkenberg.

“To the right I had the barrier anyway and then there was a very small gap.

“You know when you are upside down, it’s not so easy to find all the buttons and all the things because everything feels very different.

“It was the first time for me also to end up in the car on the roof. I was just sitting tight waiting for the marshals and they reacted very quickly and got me out.”

FIA race director Charlie Whiting did not believe that Hulkenberg’s extrication from the car was compromised, and instead said that the halo helped to give the driver more room in the cockpit.

“Quite clearly that’s one of the sort of accidents the halo was designed to help with,” Whiting said when asked by about the situation by

“It provides more space for the driver once the car is upside down. That was one of the things we wanted to make sure was still possible [during the prove-out phase for the halo].

“When you have an accident like that the radio from the car is automatically routed to race control so we get immediate information.

“Drivers normally say ‘I’m OK’ or ‘I’m fine,’ and we relay that to the doctors on their way to the scene. Then they can take their time to get the car righted and let him get out.”

Whiting was then asked about the criticisms of the halo following Hulkenberg’s crash, responding that the normal procedure is to wait for the car to be righted before extrication.

“So the routine under those circumstances is to put the car back on its wheels, which has to be done carefully of course.

“Once back on its wheels he was able to get out by himself.

“It was very controlled from what I could see, and our medical delegate was more than happy with the way it was done. It all worked exactly as it should.”

Whilst the halo is new for 2018, there are plenty of examples where a driver has been able to leave a car. A recent example is from the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix, where Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber was tipped onto its side and resting against the barrier.

In this incident, Wehrlein had to wait to be able to exit the car. A timely reminder that this particular can occur with or without the halo.

What do you think about this incident? Leave your comments in the section below

By: Luke Murphy and James Allen

All images: Motorsport Images

Featured Innovation
technical innovation from tata COMMUNICATIONS
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

Happy new year folks
I have one question.
Would the Hulk have had more space and been able to get out with the car in that position without the Halo?


the Halo was a hindrance to the Hulk. He couldn’t get out of the car without assistance. It was on fire and it is a real problem if the car had become a fireball, then he was toast. Maybe the roll hoop needs to be raised. The Halo has taken up the escape space between the body and the roll bar, effectively reducing the escape area, this needs to be addressed and the roll bar raised to a suitable level to allow the driver to escape.


Agree, I am not 100% sure but pretty sure when tested they timed how quickly a driver could get out through the top of the halo, but if inverted and the top is closed by the big rock we call Earth it may be difficult (or impossible) to get out.


In my younger years, I was into spelunking (cave exploring). On a number of occasions, I crawled through spaces so tight that I had to exhale and push with my toes to squeeze through.

I’ve also driven formula cars.

Regardless of what Charlie Whiting says (and I have a good deal of respect for him), I really believe that the Halo is a potential death trap.

Where Hulkenberg is concerned; yes, the track workers responded relatively quickly, but if the car had caught fire, seconds turn into minutes and minutes into eternity. Nico would have inhaled burning gasoline and other burning toxic substances.

While it’s amazing what you can do when your life is on the line, I don’t think I could have gotten out of that Renault and I’m willing to bet that Nico couldn’t have gotten out either.

What would the odds of getting out be if a driver suffered a broken arm?

I went back and took a serious look at video of Alonso’s crash at Australia in 2016. If he’d had a Halo on his McLaren, I’m certain he’d have been waiting for the track workers to extricate him rather than getting out under his own power.

If you go back and scrutinize Charles Leclerc’s accident at Spa this year, I think you’ll find that the Halo didn’t actually make a difference in protecting him. The tire mark that was so visible on the Halo after words actually confirms that it didn’t come that close to him.

Short of turning F1 cars into hardtops, I’m absolutely in favor of a device that reduces risk to a driver, but I believe that the Halo is more likely to kill a driver than it is to save one.

I pray to God that I’m wrong about this.


Don’t you think that Jules Bianchi may have not been killed if his car had a halo device? The rear of the tractor would have been deflected up and away from his head. Similarly with Justin Wilson being hit on the head by debris, a halo would have deflected the debris away, or at least reduced the impact. Similarly Dan Wheldon may well have escaped injury with a halo device.


Spot on.


It’s very hard to say whether the Halo was a hindrance given the car landed with the back wheel stuck on the barrier, which pivoted it forward in an extremely unusual position which the roll bar normally prevents. One thing I will say, is if the car had caught fire and Hulkenberg was hurt or worse, I don’t think there would be any debate on the issue, the Halo would be crucified in the media.

Generally it seems to help more than hinder, as the Alonso incident in Spa proved. But the problem with adding such a major external addition over the cockpit is that it leads to unintended consequences and unknown scenarios as we saw in Abu Dhabi.


But can a driver really squeeze through between the halo and the side of the car? Looks like he’d have to come out through near the front of the halo but can he distort his body enough to do it?


Step1: take a side-view of the renault 2018 car .. draw a line from the top of the T-cam to the tip of the nose wing end plate.
Step2a: color the zone between this line and the airbox/cockpit border.
Step2b: color the zone between this line and the halo.
Now you’ll see that with the halo, in case of an inverted car and in the worst case scenario (being instant fire and marshals unable to reach the car quickly) where a driver MUST extract unaided ASAP … there is barely enough space for a helmet to pass in case 2b. In case 2a, there is more than double the space to extract from the car and as history has shown, a driver CAN extract, no problem.
Conclusion: the halo might be helpfull to protect, but MUST be redesigned to make UNAIDED extraction in ALL cases possible.
I might be a product designer, but I can’t imagine I’m smarter than the FIA .. how on earth don’t they see the need for this (simple) modification ?!?


That’s the FIA for you. They seldom solve problems. They create the perception of having solved a problem, and by doing so they introduce new problems that were not there before. The net effect is that nothing really progresses; it kind of just morphs into different forms, each with its inherent set of problems.

That’s why I find it dissapointing to see so many people defend the FIA no matter what. This needs to stop because not only do we deserve better, but also those big, fat salaries that those running the show are paying themselves need to be justified.


Let’s face it, the FIA said: “Something must be done” then they saw Halo was “something”, so they did it.

Nevermind we actually never had a car hit a driver’s head when piling up (btw. a scratch mark on the Halo proves the Halo gas been hit, not that it would have hit the driver).

Nevermind that it would not have helped either Massa, Bianchi or de Villota.

Nevermind in case of a Massa-Like-Accident with small parts it’s even a rather big surface that could deflect a part into the cockpit that would otherwise have flown past.

Nevermind the wheels are actually tied to the car in case of an accident, so in F1 it’s very rare someone hits a tire with their car.

The Halo actually just protects against a very small amount of freak accidents, like a flying nose cone, but makes matters worse in almost all other cases. Plus it looks like a thong.


You must be from Australia :), it does lok like a giant thong .


There was a wall one side but completely open the otherside.

That he didn’t try to extract himself when clearly extremely concerned about fire should raise significant concern whether the halo hindered his exit in this scenario.

Would be interested to see the damage to the halo because it looks like its the roll hoop and cockpit that’s holding the car up rather than the halo.

I’m just glad he’s ok. A shiver went through my body when I heard his paniced voice. I thought for a moment we were about to see something awful. I’m thankful we didn’t but not sure the halo had any positive role in it. More the fuel tank construction and fire systems.


I think the header photo says it all – Halo or not, there’s no way Hulkenberg could extricate himself without outside assistance with the car near perfectly inverted like that. There just isn’t the room – if anything, the Halo gave him a smidge more room, as Charlie Whiting has said.

This is not really a good test crash for this issue. Typically F1 cars don’t end up near-perfectly inverted when they roll over, they’ll tip one way or the other and come to rest on the rool hoop and one wheel. Previously, we know drivers had enough space to self-extricate in that scenario, so what we need to see is whether the Halo is an impediment. It made no difference, here.


take a look at taki inoue tweet he came out while in a similar situation with car being upside down


This is yet another example of the FIA being caught out by an eventuality that they did not foresee.

This can be added to their long list of blunders starting way back in the 90s with blocks of wood bolted to the undersides of cars, grooved tyres and narrow tracks, and the multiple changes to wing sizes from wider to narrower to wider again and soon it will be narrower again, then wider again, then maybe higher again, and why not lower again just to see what happens, ad infinitum.


Many people said that it could be a hindrance in case of an inverted car, but the FIA ignored it. Classical case of “It can’t be, because it’s against or plans”. Willful, strategic ignorance.


Seems like they need to have a trainer that drivers can use to get used to disconnecting themselves while upside down. Tell that to Charlie.


You might as well tell it to the Marines as the Americans say!


Help or hindrance, neither in this instance, a ridiculous headline.


It didn’t help him with anything, and it hindered his escape from the cockpit. Therefore hinderance.


I’m not sure but I think more are killed by impact than fire these days. Doesn’t an F1 car have fire suppression built in?


Another thing to bear in mind is that fire safety in F1 has moved on a lot since Roger Williamson. Cars catch fire more rarely and the marshals are on hand in seconds anyway – the only time you see a car burn right down is when it’s been left to do so and that wouldn’t happen if the driver was stuck inside. They’d red flag the race to fight the fire with everything they had.


Yes! Things have very much changed since Williamson’s dreadful accident. I remember seeing a photo in a magazine which showed what appeared to be a fully kitted out fire rescue truck sitting off track maybe 100 yards on down the track from Williamson’s accident. It wasn’t dispatched immediately because it would have had to drive against race traffic. The race was never stopped…


Someone here noted that Jean Todt has an interest in the company that makes the Halo. Anyone know more details on this?


Hi Sebee, I didn’t check yet the ownership and their ‘circle of friends’, but I do know from technical briefings that these are the 3 companies that FIA chose to be the ‘independent manufacturers’ of the grade 5 titanium halo device. And all 3 manufacturers of this should produce it to precise the same specifications, aka no difference to be seen/measured in any way or form when inspecting or employing the device when in the car. So each team on the grid could decide on our own who we would buy it from:
CP Autosport in Germany.
SSTT in the UK.
V Systems in Italy.

CP was the company chosen by FIA to do the first samples and testing as they have many years (and the most of the 3) of experience with titanium in aerospace industry. The final design and manufacturing specs were then locked and then shared with the two other manufacturers chosen by FIA.


we should put security devices on formula one that could be helpful on road car.


The Halo is basically a scaled down, beefed up version of the roll frame in a cabriolet tbh.


You could wear a motorcycle helmet while driving your car. You would be significantly safer if you did, so why don’t you?


Don’t know about where you live but in Adelaide its a defect.


From time immemorial the driver’s head has been protected by the roll bar and the safety cell in front of the driver. It’s even given protection when the car has ploughed upside down into loose gravel. It hasn’t been a concern for ages. All of a sudden, the halo seems to have become an integral part of this protection system! It was designed for one purpose only. To deflect missiles from the drivers head. Whiting wittering about it giving “more room in the cockpit” is immaterial. He’s promoting the device as solving a problem that doesn’t exist because the problem is covered by another system. One thing’s for sure. If Hulk, believing the car to be on fire, could have got out he would have done. Anyway, perhaps there are other issues here. I suspect that he couldn’t actually undo the harness despite being entirely uninjured.


That’s not really what Charlie was saying. The device is not for additional protection during a rollover – though it’s not so long since the entire roll structure got wiped off Pedro Diniz’s Sauber, which might’ve seriously injured a taller driver. What Charlie said about additional space was more of an aside, having already stated the Halo wasn’t relevant to this accident. It’s not inaccurate to say that it created a fraction more space, as I believe it breaks the line between roll hoop and nose, but it’s small potatoes really.


It does not ..


“the safety cell in front of the driver” – is that why your could see Kubica’s legs hanging out of the front of the car when he crashed in Canada?


His completely undamaged legs, it has to be said.

Kubica is a tall driver and the entire part forward of the axle line is designed to disintegrate to absorb energy. And that’s exactly what happened, and that’s why he walked (or limped) away unscathed.


If the harness is anything like an aircraft harness, it won’t release with weight on the straps. The difficulty hanging in the straps is getting body weight off the lock mechanism.


I have been upside down a number of times co-driving in a rally car, including once in pitch darkness after the driver switched off the power to reduce risk of fire. Undoing the harnesses upside down is not a problem as long as you remember to support yourself first so you don’t fall down when you release the cam lock.

Reading Hulkenberg’s comments about not being able to find things upside down, it was clear that he hasn’t done much if any rallying.


So he pushes up with one hand against the halo and undoes the straps with the other ? Er, yes perhaps. Sounds tricky but perhaps possible.


Actually his legs should be enough to hold him in place. The nose cone is a pretty small tube.


Kubica on the other hand…


Meh, the chances of being upside down and properly on fire (not the wee lick the Hulk had) is probably not too dissimilar from the chances of being hit in the head with a wheel.

The difference is – you get hit in the head with a wheel or flying car you’re dead. No secondary safety mechanisms. You get trapped in a burning car there’s multiple additional safety mechanisms – your fireproof clothing gives you extra time, the fact that there are marshals about with extinguishers etc.

The fact that they had to roll him over is not really an issue – that is exactly what they’d have to do if he was unconscious/reporting head or spinal issues anyway (you don’t try and remove someone you suspect is hurt from the narrow gap of an upside down car, you have to at least get the thing on its side so you can manipulate them out carefully.

Basically, in the overall trade offs – it makes one lethal event almost impossible, it makes another probably a little less safe, but that one at least has other secondary mitigation measures. On balance I’d say we are safer than before, and that’s all that really matters – bearing in mind we know people have died from hitting their heads with wheels in recent years in F1 and other categories (heck we’ve had a couple of examples this year that the Halo has almost certainly helped with), it’s probably best to err on that side of things, even if it does technically make one other type of extremely rare event a little more dangerous.

The one I’m more concerned about is the Massa Hungaroring ’09 type incident – I can still imagine how the Halo might deflect that through the visor rather than it hitting the helmet as it did.


“The fact that they had to roll him over is not really an issue ” Well, it’s a bit of an issue. If he’d had a serious spinal injury, the moment that the car banged down could have been very damaging. There’s very little padding between the drivers’ coccyx and the bottom of the car. They would have had to let it down very gently, and I’m not sure there were enough stewards for that. And it could have taken longer, time which is not always available. Dodged a bit of a bullet, I think, but if it brings about improved procedures, all to the good.


The kind of arguments the get thrown at the Halo increasingly remind me of the kind of bizarre, astronomically unlikely scenarios that people used to dream up in order to claim wearing a motorbike helmet was more dangerous than not wearing one.

One that used to come up was a biker having a sliding low-side accident, going under a lorry or barrier, catching the rim of the helmet and breaking his or her neck. I mean, okay, I suppose it could happen but:

a) Any force twisting your neck hard enough to break it would probably cream your unprotected brain pretty good.

b) I’ve never once heard of this happening in real life, yet I’ve processed hundreds of accidents where bikers have survived blows to the helmet that would’ve unquestionably killed them.

I think people very often decide they don’t like something on fairly shallow grounds (appearance, mostly) and then construct these tottering piles of nonsense to make their objections sound more credible and serious than they truly are.


The “barrier catching the helmet” argument is not against helmets, but against open barriers. Another problem with open barriers are the pylons that you might hit with your body. Closed barriers would protect against that.


If you think about the physics involved in an incident like Massa’s, the speeds involved and the deflection angles, there’s no real chance of the Halo enabling something like that to happen. Anything coming down the track is going to strike the Halo at a relatively shallow angle, nowhere near enough for it to be deflected down and into the driver. For that to happen, the object would need to deflect off the rim of the device at a near right-angle so realistically, it would be limited to something being thrown up behind the front wheels.


I HATE, HATE, HATE the halo!

Did I mention that I hate the halo? I do but I understand why it is there and have come to accept it and stop whining about it.

My problem with Hulkenberg’s situation in Abu Dhabi was the procedures that were used for extraction. I felt that it took too long and that there weren’t any standard procedures employed.

At one point, I saw a safety marshall go underneath the car, which was just supported by one wheel sitting on top of one of the barriers. Imagine if the car fell while the safety marshall was underneath? He would have been killed.

The other was how they turned the car right side up. It was abit chaotic and frantic and again with no real standard procedures used.

Not good. I’m just glad that no one got hurt.


All of which would’ve had to happen whether the Halo was there or not.


That marshal was the medic. He had to go under to properly assess (and properly be able to hear) Nico before allowing the car to be moved. Had he been unconscious or needed a neck brave etc the medic would have had to do that before moving him.


The marshals look like they had the fire taken care of but there is interior fire suppression in other series so why not F1.


They do have suppression built in. It’s not just the fire, melting components and leaking batteries and leaking fluids can all give off harmful toxic gases (to the extent that asphyxiation is a real possibility) cause acid burns or severe scalding so, all things considered I’d want to be out of a an upside down car as quick as possible


The marshals in AD aren’t exactly the cream of the crop. Most get to see a racing car once a year…


Not much talk about the halo since Belgium!!😂😂 Nice try James. Still clearly the most devicive issue in Formula 1 at the moment. When it comes time next year for British fans to pay to watch F1 live the decision to impose the halo device will result in many fans giving the sport up for good. You need only look to the attitude of Australian fans to ODI cricket this summer. It’s one thing to watch a sport abandon its traditions it’s another to be forced to pay to watch a sport do it.


You know I barely notice it now but no shark fins I do notice. They looked awful.


Funny, isn’t it? I got used to the tall, skinny 2009-2013 cars quickly too, but now I look back and think they look terrible!


After watching this live, all that kept crossing my mind was how much more efficient an indycar style holmatro rescue crew would have been. Any incidents that happen in indy they are on scene rapidly, have a dedicated vehicle with fire suppression equipment as well as hydraulic cutting gear, trauma equipment etc. They are clearly highly trained and very professional. No offense to the marshals, i have the utmost respect for them, but they are volunteers. Maybe it’s time to look at a full time fully trained rescue crew.


It’s altogether easier to have one such crew cover an entire oval circuit, though. You’d need four of five to cover a circuit like Spa.


Agreed, race marshals have some training but they are not really experienced in live rescue scenarios. A fully trained experienced professional crew / fast response unit who regularly practice different rescue / escape scenarios would certainly be worth their weight in gold come the time. Seconds count and the more training / experience the better prepared they will be. I am thinking more like a fire and rescue emergency crew used to dealing with extracting people from vehicles supported by a fast response medic. As mentioned above not having a go at marshals but waving flags and clearing track debris is far removed from emergency removal of a conscious / unconscious race driver in a burning car which could be precariously balanced / wholly upside down. A different skill set and regular rescue practice brings timely efficiency. FIA could help by asking teams to provide “dummy” cars / rolling chassis to practice on using different case scenarios.


Sounds sensible, but impractical, to train/equip professionals at 20+ locations around the world for an event that happens once a year. Unless you mean one professional crew that attends all races, in which case it sounds expensive….


There are a couple of things to look at:

1. Would a slightly increased roll hoop height allow the driver more room to escape?

2. Do the barriers at the side of the track need to be a different height?


1. Yes, I suppose it would. The roll hoop is designed so that it creates a survival space between itself and the front of the survival cell. You could make it a bit higher to aid extraction, but you’d need a stronger argument as to why it was necessary. Unpleasant as the experience might’ve been, Hulkenberg was never in any actual danger.

2. We’ve seen a few of these accidents where cars have got on top of the barrier. The main problem is that you’d degrade the trackside experience significantly.


Other questions?

Is all fuel on board durring start(most crash prone period) a safety issue?

That’s a lot of flammable fluid. Have you see 110kg of racing fuel catch fire? I’ve seen Jos on fire with 10kg or so in 1994. Yikes.

Are heavier cars a safety issue? More weight in motion makes a larger impact force after all.

Is higher center of gravity on PU car a safety/rollover issue?

Why did the car land butter side down?

Why did it flip so easily? They are wider with wider tires too. Should be so easy.


There’s not a great deal of weight in the roll hoop, so raising is unlikely to alter the centre of gravity very much. The Halo was a bigger challenge in that regard and as we’ve seen, predictions of performance destroying doom were overstated.

Why did the car flip so easily? Physics. When one turning wheel runs into the back of another, the rotation of the first will tend to lift the other of the ground. The only way to prevent that entirely is to go closed wheel.



The halo itself is 10KG – or about 1.5% of the weight of the F1 car. Add all the appendages on the PU up on top of it, surely multiple tens of kilos.

Although these cars are much chunkier on the bottom as well with the 105kg of fuel, batter, motors, recovery, so the added weight on bottom may be offsetting the top, and as you say the centre of gravity is same. There may actually be so much weight down low that it could actually be that PU car has a lower centre of gravity.

Thanks for making me think this one through.


110 kg of fuel catching fire = an atomic bomb.

If 110 kg of fuel were to catch fire it might take the marshals several minutes to extinguish it and get the driver out.

I definitely would not want to be upside down with the halo blocking my way out under those circumstances.


Higher. He come close to the fence and the halo sure would have helped then.


3. Do we just accept that there are some dangers inherent to F1 that can not be legislated away?


There are dangers in everyday life that cannot be legislated away. F1 is actually comparatively safe compared to something as mundane as walking or cycling along a busy road, which is something that people do on a daily basis without giving it much thought.


The Hulk did not sound too happy and Toto has waded in with his two pence worth.


Rosberg reckons we need to look (at the halo) again. Why am I not surprised.

Pretty much every time that the FIA implements something it has to be looked at again, and sometimes even reversed.


I’m surprised he says it is the first time he is upside down in a car… Aren’t such things practiced? For the Red Bull Air Race, the pilots practice escaping from a submerged cockpit (in the safe environment of a pool). There was one crash a few years ago, after which the pilot claimed that thanks to the practices, he did not panic and knew what to do. So… why isn’t something like that done once or twice during the season? Not only would it help the drivers, but could even be a nice “behind the scenes”.


I think he could have got out himself but who wants to land on their head? The fire extinguishers were out quick.


No, you literally can’t get out because the halo is blocking your way out.

If you release the seat belts you will end up on your head trapped in the space enclosed by the halo, but you won’t be going anywhere.


I honestly can’t believe they haven’t done any test of a driver in that position, I mean, sound pretty basic stuff for a high performance sport, to test driver escape in any from any possible circumstance.

I they haven’t test it that way, it’s something really wrong for their “security standards” , which somehow surprises me but is not surprise… :S


“any possible circumstance”….. hmmmmmmm….


You’re surprised about the FIA implementing things without testing? Why?

Implementing untested solutions is the FIA way, and has been for decades.


yeah, thats why I said surprised but not surprise :S


To be blunt, is it preferable to be trying to save a living driver from a burning car, or be trying to recover the body of a driver which has sustained a massive cranial/cervical blunt trauma?

Fires are mercifuly infrequent, fire suppression equipment relatively abundant, and driver personal protection adds vital seconds to recovery efforts. Like it or not, the halo gives drivers the best chance overall.


No way. The kind of freak accident that the halo supposedly guards against has an almost zero chance of occurring. And to safeguard against it they compromised drivers ability to escape a burning car.

The net result is a zero improvement in safety.


Luke C

Are you a driver? No, thought not.

You don’t normally talk complete non-sense, so must forgive if brain was not engaged before posting.

James is right….. there was no halo when Bandini, Piers Courage or Roger Williamson burned alive.

In F1, the halo may have saved Senna, Ratzenberger and Bianchi, in F2 – Henry Surtees, in Indy Car, Wheldon and Wilson.


The halo would not have saved Senna, Ratzenberger or Bianchi. The improved safety cell around the driver an double wheel tethers probably would have. As for Bianchi, not having a 20 tonne digger on a live racing track would have saved him.


I’m a driver and a motorcyclist. Both of which are significantly riskier than f1 racing.

And senna would have been saved by the high cockpit sides and or chicane/better run off design. And we already have those.

Ratzenberger might have been saved by the HANS and high cockpit sides. And we already have those.

Surtees might have been saved by wheel thethers. And we already have those.

Nothing could have saved Bianchi, except that vehicle not being there.

And the indycar fatalities were on ovals and that’s a different kettle of fish.


The Halo would not have saved Greg Moore though.


“And the indycar fatalities were on ovals and that’s a different kettle of fish.”

That’s laughable. The Wheldon and Wilson incidents (and I’d add Greg Moore’s) are among the strongest arguments in favour of the Halo and you know it. Going into the barriers upside down is not exclusive to ovals, nor are large pieces of loose debris.

It’s also clear you don’t know what wheel tethers do and don’t do. The F2 cars in the Surtees crash had tethers, in fact. The thing some don’t realise is that wheel tethers are designed to be slightly weaker than the survival cell and will break in a sufficiently violent crash. This is because if the tethers are stronger than the survival cell, they’ll pull it to pieces. Loose wheels will probably always be a safety issue.


The halo would under no circumstance have saved Senna. Clinically he died instantly at impact, due to the lateral g-forces from his 208 km/h to zero upon impact. Deadly injuries were the fully ruptured temporal artery and multiple hemorrhages in the respiratory passages as result just of this. (not from any physical objects penetrating him or crushing him, but true, he had several fractures at the base of the cranium and a crushed forehead also from material, but autopsy did not deem those deadly). That the Italian’s kept him mechanically alive or not is another moral question, but that is another debate)

Regarding Bianchi, then even his father and family have expressed clearly at multiple occasions that the halo would not have been able to save him. Engineers from various teams agree. If you look at the specs for the halo and compare to the lateral force that Bianchi’s car sustained when passing under the crane it is obvious.

We have previously had that very discussion on this forum and I posted link to technical video screening of the actual scene and aftermath. (we removed it of courtesy) The entire top of the F1 car, including the full roll hoop was cut clean off during that impact, so the very components which the halo itself is attached to. So no, sadly the halo would not have saved Bianchi.

Cant recall all the details about Ratzenberger’s fatal accident, but it was almost identical to Senna’s. Going around the old-layout high-speed Imola circuit, the car failed to turn and he left the track at full pelt at the Villeneuve Corner and struck the outside wall at 310 km/h. He was killed instantly as well, sustaining a fracture at the base of his skull, snapping his upper vertebrae and a huge G-force strain on his brain. So once more, we have to ask would further head-protection have saved him? We will never truly know for sure, but I would hazard a guess saying that it would not have done a thing. The car had to stop on impact and so did the driver inside.
The human brain and other vital interiors (spine and arteries) can simply not resist such brutal force.


I always understood that Senna died from the microphone in his helmet penetrating the head. Is that not so, or was it true but it wasn’t that that killed him ?


Hi Kenny,

Do you have some references to thiose statemenets from autopsy report? Sincerely interested but also comprehend the challenges with this case, as many components from it has been kept from public knowledge, among others, also because of the potential criminal charges as result of team or race officials.

From the Italian state just these general terms have been used, which do not specifically mention the suspension rods or steering column and other mechanic components that from time to time have come up in unofficial discussions about this tragic event: …Accidents such as this are almost always fatal, with survivors suffering irreversible brain damage. This is a result of the effects on the brain of sudden deceleration, which causes structural damage to the brain tissues. Estimates of the forces involved in Ayrton’s accident suggest a rate of deceleration equivalent to a 30 metre vertical drop, landing head-first. Evidence offered at the autopsy revealed that the impact of this 208 km/h crash caused multiple injuries at the base of the cranium, resulting in respiratory insufficiency.

There was crushing of the brain (which was forced against the wall of the cranium causing oedema and haemorrhage, increasing intra-cranial pressure and causing brain death), together with the rupture of the temporal artery, haemorrhage in the respiratory passages and the consequent heart failure.

This is also what the larger group of contributors have agreed upon to be the most accurate description on the wiki page these days.


“Deadly injuries were the fully ruptured temporal artery and multiple hemorrhages in the respiratory passages as result just of this. (not from any physical objects penetrating him or crushing him, but true, he had several fractures at the base of the cranium and a crushed forehead also from material, but autopsy did not deem those deadly).”

This is not accurate. Senna’s post mortem identified basal skull fractures and two penetrating head wounds, any of which would’ve been fatal on their own.


Ratzenberger suffered a broken neck. Most likely he would have survived had he been wearing a HANS device and with the help of the high cockpit sides introduced in 1996.


Let’s not forget that the FIA increased the driver extraction time with the introduction of the Halo.

So while the year before a driver had only 3 second to evacuate the car and would be banned from competing if it took a millisecond longer as it was deemed ‘unsafe’.

With the Halo that time was stretched out by 66% to 5 seconds because the Halo was safety device!

That’s just plain dumb.

Charlie’s time is up… no amount of cars with halos should assuage his guilt over Bianchis death.


Tell that to Charles Leclerc. I’m sure he would disagree.


The scratch mark proves the car hit the halo, not that it would have hit the head. The head is further down in the cockpit and it has some room to wiggle.


do cows hang though?


Yes, in a slaughterhouse

Top Tags
SEARCH Innovation