If anyone still had any doubts about the purpose of the halo’s presence on F1 cars, they were spectacularly put to rest at Spa in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
A first lap crash as the field barreled towards the La Source hairpin saw Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault clobber the back of Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, launching the Spaniard over the top of Charles Leclerc’s Sauber, hitting the Monegasque halo in the process.
Without the presence of the cockpit safety device, its likely its driver would have suffered considerable trauma, or perhaps something worse, a prospect that sends shivers down one’s spine.
“I felt the impact and looking at the image it is quite spectacular. It was lucky,” said Leclerc, whose friends and relatives were horrified by the striking sequence of events.
“I got quite a lot of messages. My mum called me quite a lot of times. Everyone was quite worried.”
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Alonso, the involuntary culprit of the damage, was equally happy with how the device had protected the driver.
“The Halo was a very good thing to have today. I think for him, it helped, looking at the replay,” remarked the McLaren driver.
It’s the first incident of the sort in F1 to test the merits of the halo since its introduction at the beginning of the 2018 season, and has prompted F1 race director Charlie Whiting to take a closer look in the coming days at how the device held up.
“I think what is clear is the significant tyre marks on both the chassis and the halo,” said Whiting
“It looks like it’s had a fairly hefty whack.
“It doesn’t take much imagination to think that the tyre marks would have actually been on Charles’ head. It would be a bit of a miracle if they weren’t, had the halo not been there.
“What is clear is the significant tyre marks on both the chassis and the Halo. We take lots of photographs and our researchers will be contacting Sauber tomorrow morning just to make sure we understand, for example, when they take the Halo off, try and see if the fixing and the bolts that fix it are in good shape,” added Whiting.
“And, more importantly, to see if it’s been distorted. It’s being held in by the bolts at present, but see if it springs into a different shape and we can try and learn whatever we can from that.”
Another man impressed by what he saw, and the fortunate outcome of the crash, was 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg, who immediately dispatched a message on Twitter to his 2.3 million followers.
“We can end the HALO discussion now. It will save lives,” he wrote.
No argument there…
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