Valid reasons not to use Halo

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Jean Todt’s insistence on using the Halo head protection device for 2018 is clear evidence that the rational decision making capabilities of the FIA have now reached new lows.

As TJ13 reported yesterday, the strong opposition from the teams and fans alike had zero impact on the FIA’s bulldozing the law through so why not make a simple list of reasons why it is such a stupid idea. Feel free to chime in on the comments your thoughts.

  1. The Halo would not have saved the life of Jules Bianchi, the primary driver for the FIA’s decision. The worry of liability by not implementing something fast should another accident happen has fast tracked a compromised concept.
  2. Nine out of ten teams do not want halo, only Ferrari voted for it. Rumoured to be a sympathetic vote aimed at acknowledging Bianchi and Massa’s accidents, more likely a politic move.
  3. Halo raises more questions than it answers. Yes, it can protect against large objects like a wheel. But detached wheels have become rarity, tethers are set to have increased reinforcement for 2018. The Halo, on the other hand might well lead to completely new accidents types not encountered before. What if a part of another car hooks up in the halo? What if pieces of debris deflects from the halo on the pilot’s chest? How well can a driver crawl out of the crashed car?
  4. Eau Rouge. The former Formula 1 driver Taki Inoue has shown on Twitter a picture from a computer simulation. If you want to dive into the notorious Eau-Rouge-curve of Belgium with such a view, TJ13 can only wish you good luck.
  5. The majority reason for the new dimensional changes to the cars for this season was for aesthetics. Apart from the T-Wings and perhaps the fins (some fans actually like fins), the cars do look better. All that will change with a ‘flip-flop’ bolted onto the cockpit.
  6. In most polls, no matter what country, the results are the same: at least 75 to 80 percent of the fans reject the halo solution.
  7. All single-seaters will be equipped with this head protection over the years, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
  8. How will fans adhere to the desired view F1 marketing wants them to believe? How can the drivers be seen as ‘heroes’ when a) you cannot see the driver working at all and b) they’re protected in a cage from imaginary danger?

Here’s a poll to measure if TJ13 jury members would actually be in favour of the Halo idea but it’s probably a waste of time.

14 responses to “Valid reasons not to use Halo

  1. I think its pretty clear that Todt’s objective is to end open-cockpit racing. How long before he sets his sights on the open-wheel component?

    Liberty Media must be delighted.😝 And sarcasm aside – IndyCar definitely will be.

  2. I imagine that something like the same kind of arguments were made when full face helmets were made mandatory.

    With all due respect, your honour, the only argument against halo with any heft is that the device is catastrophically ugly. That’s a very good point but it’s not much of a counter to the halo safety gains. Aesthetics is only a good point because we are talking about an entertainment product here and the look/feel is important.

    All the other arguments you posit aren’t very compelling, for mine.

    The best place to win the argument would be to ratchet back to whether extra head protection is necessary at all. Personally I’d say not.

    The irony is of course that the increased performance of the cars that was pursued to attract the fans is the best argument for increased driver protection and the protection solution chosen is likely to drive away fans. Funny.

    • I disagree. There has been two head injury incidents in the last 8 years in F1 and it’s very questionable whether the halo would have prevented the injury Massa sustained and it wouldn’t have done any good at all for Bianchi. Some commentators are also bringing up the Justin Wilson accident, but that was a case of the stupidity of IndyCar allowing lead ballast to be used in the front wing.

      The principal reason reason for the halo is the FIA attempting to indemnify itself against legal action. Todt’s political aspirations also play a part.

      Lets wait and see what happens when there’s an accident next year and the driver says it was caused because the halo obstructed his view. Then you have the odd circumstance when an FIA sanctioned “safety device” is the cause of an accident. What does the FIA do then?

      • I’m not sure what you disagree with. I said that I don’t think that extra head protection is necessary.

        Bianchi is off the table because of the extremity of the impact.

        I don’t know enough about the Wilson one to comment.

        On balance I’d say it’s likely a halo would have benefited Massa though. Of course you can say the spring might have gone under the top bar of the halo and to either side of the front support. No doubt the design balances a range of debris sizes, weights, profiles and trajectories with the need for the driver to see what he’s doing. Nothing is perfect though.

        In any situation where debris is flying around, a halo has an obvious chance of preventing injury – to say otherwise is just silly.

        The ‘indemnify’ thing sounds good but means nothing. A court case around a situation involving a halo would be liking into whether the FIA understands the risks associated with their sport and what their response to that risk is. The argument doesn’t stop just because they’ve implemented a ‘solution’. Then the FIA would have to demonstrate they understood what risks the halo reduced and which risks it increased. Blah, blah, blah..

        Even if the push for halo was political, lawyers would notionally pick apart that aspect before the engineers went to work. Courts would completely ignore that aspect.

        Fact is that halo would improve driver safety in a range of situations. Halo will also make a range of things worse for the driver. FIA”a risk analysis obviously comes down the side of “they’re better off with it than without it” .

        Risk analysis is not a science. Not is it an art. Perception plays a big part and everyone’s perception is different.

        I don’t think halo is necessay, but there just my perception.

    • “The best place to win the argument would be to ratchet back to whether extra head protection is necessary at all.”
      Keep going … you end up with nude drivers. Some fans would really go for this, and it would encourage more gender balance in the sport.

  3. i think it’s even more dangerously then having no Halo. It’s a extra structure that can harm a driver when crashing. What happens with a side impact and a part of the halo loosens en gets slammed into the helmet of the driver? In case of the mentioned accident of Bianchi, he would probably be killed instantaneously with the halo structure smashing into it’s helmet ….

    • I agree with this. Unfortunately I don’t have any engineering experience to support that assessment, but I think that’s also a part of the point here. Where are the crash tests? Where is the objective data that supports this decision? Something equivalent to this wouldn’t see the light of day in the consumer industry without massive amounts of money for testing, vetting, driver education, etc.

      I would compare two unfortunate accidents. Bianchi and Justin Wilson. I suspect the halo would have saved Wilson. But I also suspect Bianchi’s accident would have been worse, shoving all of that halo material into the helmet with extreme force.

      And I would compare the evolution of the halo solution to HANS and SAFER. The HANS device went many years before it was mandatory and now it’s as ubiquitous as the seat belt and helmet in racing. The SAFER barrier evolved as an engineering solution to a set of strict and common sense requirements for safety and cost. Even wheel tethers seem obvious in today’s world but evolved over a long period of time. The halo device just seems like it’s a knee-jerk reaction that can’t identify what situations it’s trying to protect, without the engineering and assessment as is proper for a radical device so close to the exposed helmet of a driver, and — not that this should be glorified — without any unfortunate precedent that drivers and fans could rally around or identify with. Not to emphasize NASCAR over F1, but look at the impact of Earnhardt’s accident and Kyle Busch’s broken leg. Earnhardt’s accident being a big component to HANS and helmet requirements and Busch’s accident leading to every inch of Daytona protected with SAFER. Both were preventable accidents that should not have happened. Bianchi? You can blame everything *except* the safety of the car in that unfortunate accident.

      Racing is dangerous. Unfortunately, safety evolves from necessity, often at the drivers’ own insistence. This halo solution is a top-down solution dictated by bureaucracy rather than a proper bottom-up grass-roots solution.

      • I regards to the Justin Wilson. Many commentators, especially British ones like Benson at the BBC, have made Wilson’s accident an example of where the halo would have saved his life. The story they portray goes that he was hit in the head by the front wing assembly of another car, which subsequently killed him. What actually killed Justin Wilson wasn’t the front wing assembly, but a 15 pound lump of lead which was in the front wing assembly acting as ballast. Even IndyCar admitted it was the ballast that was responsible for his death. The FIA banned ballast in the front wing assembly in 2005 / 2006. And after Wilson’s accident so did IndyCar. We need to cut through the BS of what a lot of people like Benson are writing on the halo.

  4. The only times we see the drivers working is when the cockpit camera is on, and it’s broadcast. (Never been to a race, but it appears that the distance from the fans keeps them from seeing the drivers driving.)

  5. I’m as against Halo as possible. I might just not watch F1. On another note, I like the fins. They look purposeful and are the perfect spot for big, bright and clear numbers. Front wings with dozens of elements are an abomination though.

  6. I find it easier to say that I oppose the FIA as unfit for purpose rather than single out the halo!

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