In order to prevent drivers from being struck by high velocity debris in the 2018 F1 series, the FIA has dictated that all the cars for next year be equipped with a device known as the “Halo.”
It certainly seems appropriately named, if nothing else and will doubtless polish the reputations of the angels behind the wheel, but whether or not it will actually serve the intended purpose is not a foregone conclusion.
Just like manufacturers of everyday autos have discovered that crash prevention, i.e., anti-lock brakes, was a better approach than crash survival, i.e., air bags that could explode without warning and with excessive force that shot deadly shrapnel at drivers and passengers, the Halo seems to solve one issue and pose another: a reduction in visibility.
Some of the F1 drivers think the Halo is not an ideal solution. Daniel Ricciardo for one, the Perth born head driver for Team Tag-Heuer Red Bull, expresses some reservations. “The majority of us wanted head protection, there was no denying that, but we weren’t all in favour of the halo, Ricciardo said to Fox Sports. “We hadn’t really found the ideal solution yet, so they’ve obviously decided to push on with it. We’ve got the drivers’ briefing tomorrow and I assume there’s going to be a pretty lengthy chat about that. I’m not sure yet if the FIA will come into that meeting with us, but I think we’ll have a few more answers tomorrow.”
The FIA seems to be in a dammed-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t quagmire.
The Halo resembles a roll bar. It mounts just in front of the driver’s cockpit and from a head-on perspective, it resembles a boomerang. It is easy to imagine, from there, F1 going to totally enclosed cockpits. From there, how far is it until they decide that open-wheel racing is another area where safety could be addressed?
Perhaps by adding angel wings in front of the front tyres.