On Sunday, the British Grand Prix opened in true F1 fashion with a dramatic multi-car crash in the first lap. Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu’s car spun out of control and slammed into the fence after several rolls of the car.
The wreck left his vehicle badly damaged, but after a trip to the medical center, he said he was OK. What saved him? He credits the halo.
No, we’re not talking about some divine intervention. The halo is a safety feature included in F1 cars that is essentially a titanium and carbon fiber ring that surrounds the driver’s helmet. The idea is that it absorbs any massive impact headed towards a driver’s head, be it debris from another vehicle or obstacles the car crashes into. And the halo can surely take a hit, designed to withstand the weight of a London double-decker bus.
When it was initially introduced, it faced pushback and scrutiny from F1 drivers and teams who said that they preferred the look and feel of the more open cockpit. “I’m not impressed with the whole thing and if you give me a chainsaw I would take it off," said Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff in 2018 at their car launch.
But so far, the halo has been credited with saving the lives of at least four drivers. After the crash, former FIA president Jean Todt tweeted: “Glad I followed my convictions in imposing the halo, despite a strong opposition."