FIA polishes its HALO

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The FIA, feeling the pressure of fans, drivers, teams and journalists alike, have taken to the digital airwaves to explain their reasoning for mandating the HALO device for 2018. I’ve been on the road the past few days and haven’t been able to read much of the response and I do know that Will Buxton made a case against the device but unfortunately I have yet to read it.

I did, however, catch a series of tweets that Mark Gallagher had with F1 photographer Darren Heath. I agree with both of them in that it seems the situation is a case of many being dragged along by few. Darren made a particularly poignant statement that I think gets to the core of not only the FIA’s HALO decision but the overwhelming wave of cultural morays we see around the world. Darren said:

“The argument for F1 HALO hang on the guilt of those [who are] against, should a tragedy occur without it. A daft premise. “

It’s a brilliant point and one that, to me, drives much of the current world’s social and political climate these days. In the case of HALO, no one wants to be the person saying “no” to the device should anyone be killed without it affixed to the cars in 2018 and that’s because it has been offered as a complete solution that would prevent death or injury moving forward. The bigger question we should also contemplate, while ripping robes over inaction, is what happens if someone dies or is injured due to the device? Is there any level of guilt to be found there that would have us pause and seek a better solution, accept the risk as is or simply move toward an LMP1 car from Le Mans?

How can a device, unproven, prompt such guilt in those who oppose it as to see them acquiesce simply to assuage the guilt of an unpredictable future event and hypothetical situation? Sure, object have killed drivers, there is not hypothetical case here and I understand how this may have prevented the deaths of Surtees and Wilson.

In the case of Massa, the spring struck the portion of helmet just before the opening for his eyes and had it deviated just slightly lower, Felipe may not be with us today. What if the HALO was that deviation device sending the spring straight through the visor instead just above it? A lot of what-if’s I know but if something like that happened or a driver couldn’t be extricated due to a deformed HALO device, would the proponents feel guilty then?

I don’t have the answer, I’m no engineer, but I suspect Mark and Darren are right, if you want to eliminate the risk of open-wheel racing head injuries, then a complete LMP1 style canopy is the only way and is that what Liberty Media would allow the FIA to do to their sport? To be honest, I am a little surprised they are willing to let the FIA mandate a HALO given the backlash of fan reaction as well as driver reaction.

It’s nice of Alex Wurz to say it is needed and the GPDA accepts the ruling but last I checked, he doesn’t drive in F1.

You can read the full FIA statement here.

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Paul KieferJr

When I saw the windshield that Vettel was testing, my first thought was “Yeah, that’s exactly what I envisioned this thing should look like.” When I heard Vettel decry it due to vision issues, my heart kinda sank. IMO, the Halo isn’t the right thing to go with. However, if the windshield isn’t it, either, then what is?

I drive with a windshield every day. Granted, I’m not a racer, but at least the windshield will take the hit from the stone before I do.

Saying this with tongue firmly placed in cheek: “WHAT!!!??? Are you against safety!?” ;-)

Ryan Ware

As a professional engineer, this whole process has seemed out of whack. I see little evidence that they’ve actually gathered adequate requirements; that they’ve then created an architecture and/or design that then meets those requirements; that they’ve then validated and tested that the final product meets those requirements. As an engineer, what I see is that they’ve guessed at something that possibly, maybe, kind of, might do something to maybe help someone later in a contrived situation. Damn the consequences of it ends up causing more harm than actually helping because they need to look like they’re doing something to… Read more »

Prakhar Mehrotra

Ya exactly, this is the first time I have heard of the testing mentioned and as a fan I would like to see videos of the extraction test. If it is really that effective the FIA should have no qualms about keeping us in the loop. Interestingly, we haven’t heard any reactions to the halo from liberty media. I want to know what chase Carey has to say about it.

Shocks&Awe

Chase Carey is against it, but doesn’t want to say so publicly for fear of being seen to agree with Bernie.

Salvu Borg

If Chase Carey operates in that way he is not much different from the onehalftheexcancer of F1.

jakobusvdl

Refer to the link in my earlier post, ‘FIA’s decision to introduce the halo was backed by the F1 Group, whose sporting boss Ross Brawn has been working with the FIA on cockpit protection. A spokesman said: “We fully support the FIA on this matter.” ‘

Hanwi

One of my fellow classmates took the PE for chemical engineering five times and failed every time, he finally passed a controls PE on the first try. Is the PE exam really that difficult?

jakobusvdl

Hi Ryan, Here’s a link that gives some information on the background, research and testing that has been done on the halo device, http://www.bbc.com/sport/formula1/40681759 It is a useful article, if a bit light on detail, but it does indicate that a range of actual collisions and other hazards have been assessed, and that the halo device has been found to have ‘a net positive effective’. Also interesting to see that Liberty Media’s F1Group voted with the FIA for its adoption. It is encouraging to think its going to have ‘a net positive effective’ even if we don’t like its appearance.… Read more »

Salvu Borg

A few personal notes about the need for some sort of driver head protection. When the cockpit high sides were mandated, like most of the other safety things mandated the same objections were raised. Circa 1958 Stirling Moss tried an enclosed transparent canopy on a Vanwell at Monza, dispensing with it after a brief test because it was so noisy inside. A decade later Jack Brabham again at Monza tried a type of canopy open at the top for entry/exit, but it was abandoned because of the same vision problems mentioned by Vettel. Jeffery Quill’s autobiography, the years where he… Read more »

jakobusvdl

Great post Salvu, I’ll check out some of those links, thanks.

Salvu Borg

The difference back then and now. The enclosed transparent canopy tried by Moss and the opened at the top for entry/exit transparent canopy tried by Brabham had nothing to do with safety or head protection, they were all about gaining an advantage in slipstream, back then there was no such thing as safety, and no screaming by fans about closed cockpits ugly or nice locking, and for or against the old federation. but there was a lot of praise for how brave and good were the many that dead. I did not stop following the racing back then and certainly… Read more »

jakobusvdl

Excellent links thanks. It is apparent that there has been a lot of testing and engineering done on cockpit protection. However, it is a really complex problem, and it is apparent that no ‘ideal solution’ has been identified yet.
I can understand why the FIA and F1Group want a solution in place, the liabilities placed on them by Health and Safety legislation is really onerous.

Salvu Borg

Jako, “onerous!!!” why? the FIA and F1 new owners (LM) votes alone amounted to two thirds (2/3rds) of the votes available to mandate the halo .
Something totally off topic, but might be of interest. Totally out of topic this, but the first ever photo (at least that I have seen) of the damage sustained after what some says is a near miraculous surgery, to see go too/google “KUBICA QUICKER LAP TIMES THEN HULKENBERG AND PALMER-WILL TEST FOR RENAULT”.

jakobusvdl

Onerous, because if the law governing the FIA is the same as in NZ, if they don’t adopt some form of cockpit protection, and a driver is killed or injured and cockpit protection could have prevented it, they could face criminal prosecution.
I’ll check out the Kubuca link, I’m not sure I want to see the arm, but to find out how he’s going in the 2017 car!

Salvu Borg

A few more personal notes. We have been very lucky that no driver has been decapitated in F1 in the recent past, cars going over the top of a chassis is always scary. The FIA will raise time limit for mandatory cockpit evacuation from 5 seconds to 8-10 seconds for 2018. The HALO will weigh aprrox 26kg, but that doesn’t mean the 2018 cars will weigh that much more, because from 2016 to 2017 10kg were already provided for the extra weight of the projected HALO. The 2018 chassis will have to be prepared for additional stress tests, the Halo… Read more »

jakobusvdl

Good information Salvu, i think that we’re in agreement about the development and implementation of the halo.
As you say we’ll get over it very quickly – remember what an abomination sharkfins and tee-wings were at the beginning of the season? and now we’re already onto the next ‘outrage’ and fins and tee wings look quite good.

Zachary Noepe

Hmm I’m not so sure the chassis is going to have to be reengineered for additional stress, an object like the halo is a very efficient stiffener, by weight. That’s why convertibles weigh more than hardtops, it takes a lot more bracing to make something with an open hole stiff than it does to brace over the hole. That said, I disagree we all got used to high cockpit sides and HANS. I didn’t, I hate them. The drivers can’t look around, we can’t see them, it sucks. Going a step further isn’t justified by the previous poor steps. I… Read more »

Hanwi

Surtees dies almost a decade ago, with tire tethers I haven’t seen a tire lose on the track in many years. As far as Wilson he was driving Indy which is an entirely different beast. I see this as an overreaction to Jules, there always has to be a corrective action. Jules death was a tragedy, he mucked up, the race officials mucked up and someone died. A halo will not hold up when you drive under the back of a JCB at high speed. The halo will get more drivers injured with it than without it, I just hope… Read more »

Salvu Borg

The last time I have seen a tyre lose (an untethered wheel) bouncing on the track was at BAKU THIS YEAR.

Hanwi

I must have missed that.

Salvu Borg

F1 2017 Baku Perez crash-youtube.

Zachary Noepe

That tether worked. Yes the wheel came loose but 98% of it’s energy was gone by then.

Shocks&Awe

This is F1 for goodness sake, the pinnacle of motor sport engineering and innovation!
Where’s the darned invisible force field? At the very least they should be consulting with Wonder Woman — I bet she doesn’t feel nauseous when flying her invisible jet…

Shocks&Awe

Okay, maybe this is a bit far-fetched. How about something more realistic like twin, shark-fin-mounted, laser-tracking cannons that would shoot any incoming projectiles?

Sometimes I really wish I had the skill to be a cartoonist…

puptentacle

Three points. One, what is the method by which the DRIVER will be able to release the HALO in the case of an accident? One recent shot I saw seemed to show some sort of button or latch release mechanism near the body of the car in front of the driver. If that is the case how, pray tell, would the driver be able to reach it? Two, let’s do a bit of imagining, shall we? It’s 2016 in Australia. Alonso runs up the back end of Guitierrez and is stuck in the same position on the wall adjacent to… Read more »

Fred Betros

Hello to all, I find myself very conflicted with this one but despite being conflicted, I have still come to a firm conclusion as have most! First and foremost, I’m an F1 tragic and an absolute anorak. I love the sport – always have and always will, I think. I’m also a general surgeon who has worked in trauma for 20 years. I’ve worked as a track support surgeon in V8 Supercars in Australia, A1GP when it was in Australia and many lower level classes such as formula 3 and Formula Ford as well. In addition to that, I’ve dealt… Read more »