Formula One Embraces The Halo Effect

Did you watch the Formula One race from Monaco today? If you did, you saw the last truly open cockpit cars that will ever race on the streets of the municipality. Next year, all Formula One cars will sport a new device that is somewhere between a really large wishbone and a flying buttress.

Called the Halo, it is an extra structural member that will rise up directly in front of the drivers and arch back over their heads, ending on either side of the air intake tower. Formula One adopts The Halo for 2017

The sport was considering another driver protection device, a sort of super visor intended to protect the drivers from flying objects like the errant spring that nearly ended Felipe Massa’s life several years ago.  But a meeting between team bosses and F1 race director Charlie Whiting on Friday determined the so–called Aeroscreen was not ready for prime time, and so the Halo was approved for the 2017 season.

The Aeroscreen was proposed by Red Bull earlier this season. Many of the teams indicated a preference for it, but the time needed to complete testing meant it could not be ready in time for the season to come. Testing will continue, however, and the Aeroscreen may appear on Formula One cars soon. Just not in 2017.

Reports from the pit lane are that the Halo will not be quite as clunky as the prototype Ferrari tested in Spain earlier this year. Further testing will take place after the inaugural grand prix in Azerbaijan in June.

After those tests, the Technical Regulations rules committee will meet prior to the British grand prix in July. That’s when a final decision on the specifications for the Halo will be finalized.

Formula One Halo

Not all Formula One fans are thrilled with the idea of the Halo. Some think its biggest sin is that is makes the cars ugly, while others worry that it may make it more difficult to extricate themselves from the car after a crash like the one that turned Fernando Alonso’s McLaren into an unguided missile earlier this season. Alonso wound up upside down against a barrier.

But the FIA under Jean Todt has placed a high priority on safety, particularly after the unfortunate and totally preventable accident that took the life of Jules Bianchi two seasons ago. Bianchi’s family filed suit against the sport and the FIA just this week.

Some are so bold as to suggest that a racing series that has always featured open wheel, open cockpit cars should have cars with open wheels and open cockpits. But Todt and his minions are determined to make the sport safer even if it kills them. So to speak, of course.

Source and photo credits:

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.