What Is a Halo in Formula 1?

What Is a Halo in Formula 1

There are many differences between modern Formula 1 cars and those that were driven during the earlier periods of the sport. One significant difference that might stand out to the viewer’s eyes is the curved, T-shaped bar in front of the driver’s seat. This is the “halo,” and it was introduced as a mandatory safety feature for all Formula 1 cars during the 2018 F1 season. Read on to learn more about the history of its development and how it has been applied since then.

Pre-Halo Formula 1 Era

Due to the high-speed nature of Formula 1 racing, the sport is one that is inherently dangerous and incredibly risky. As the advancement of technology allowed cars to become increasingly faster, cars in today’s Formula 1 can easily reach speeds surpassing 200 miles per hour. These high speeds certainly add to the exhilarating nature of the sport, but they have also led to devastating accidents and sometimes even fatalities. Fifty-two drivers have lost their lives in the history of the sport.

Development of the Halo

After several incidents, most notably the death of driver Jules Bianchi during the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, the sport began to seriously focus on researching and developing ideas to protect their drivers in their seats during races. Consequently, multiple ideas were drawn up by various teams. For example, Oracle Red Bull Racing introduced the idea of placing a windshield screen that would wrap around the cockpit in front of the driver.

It was ultimately Mercedes AMG Petronas that introduced the concept of a halo: a curved, T-shaped titanium bar that would be placed on top of the cockpit around the driver’s head. This design was ultimately selected by the FIA (International Automobile Federation), the governing body for Formula 1 racing, for three main reasons:

  • It was designed to withstand the weight of a double-decker bus.
  • It was the only concept to pass safety testing which included protecting the driver from the impact of a wheel hurling at a speed of 150 miles per hour.
  • The design maintained providing drivers with a clear view of the racing track.

Application of the Halo

Since 2018, halo bars have been a mandatory safety feature on all Formula 1 racing cars. Initially, there were many who were against the use of the concept, including drivers and team principals. Some arguments against the halo bar included the fact that the design would alter the aesthetic tradition of Formula 1 cars.

With the halo being credited with saving the lives of several drivers during accidents that would have otherwise led to serious injuries or even deaths, the halo has been widely accepted and praised. For example, during the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, drivers Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton were involved in an accident where Verstappen’s car landed on top of Hamilton. Serious injury was avoided as the halo bar was able to cushion the collision and protect Hamilton’s head from being impacted by the tire and bottom chassis of Verstappen’s car.