Mercedes F1 tech chief on the challenges of the halo – “it’s not light”
Innovation
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Feb 2018   |  9:43 pm GMT  |  336 comments

James Allison, who won the world championship with Mercedes in his first season as technical chief of the team in 2017, has spoken about the new halo device which all F1 cars will have to carry this year.

With less than a fortnight to go until the new F1 cars begin to roll out ahead of F1 testing, Allison says that the engineering required to integrate the halo into the chassis has been significant, given the massive loads the device needs to be able to withstand.

“This is not a light piece of work, it is several kilograms of titanium that needs to be put in the car,” Allison said in a Mercedes-issued video today.

“There are changes that we needed to do to accommodate it to ensure the overall car would still stay below the weight limit.

“It’s also not light because it takes really high loads.

“We had to strengthen the design of the chassis so it would be able to take roughly the weight of a London double decker bus sitting on top of the halo.

“We needed to make sure it would be strong enough to withstand the type of event it was designed to protect the driver’s head against.”

The halo raises the centre of gravity of an F1 car, which is something teams work very hard to avoid. They also have to be careful to add a fairing onto the titanium tube to ensure that it doesn’t affect the airflow to the rear wing or into the airbox.

There are mixed feelings about the halo within F1 on aesthetic grounds, while many fans have been vocal about a device which they feel cuts the drivers off and sends the wrong signals out about F1 as an extreme sport.

But driver head protection was something that was considered long overdue and this was regarded as the least-worst option, after extensive testing.

The FIA, which has mandated the use of halo in all senior single seater championships including F2 and Formula E in 2018, believes that fans will get used to it in time, much as they did with the HANS device on the drivers’ helmets.

Halo F1 cockpit protection

All photos: LAT Images

What do you think of Allison’s comments on the halo? Leave your own comments in the section below

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1

Sorry, what is the halo gonna protect drivers from? All this time I thought it was something that could work in incidents like Massa’s accident, who was hit by a spring. But I was wrong. Now I see that the halo is just a few bars, there’s no “glass” shield. So I don’t get it, the drivers are now protected from what exactly?

2

I remember an interview where Mosley claimed given the choice between a safer car and a more dangerous car that was faster, every driver on the grid picks the more dangerous, faster car. I’m sure the same is still true today. Probably the same goes for fans – we want to see the fastest most spectacular version of our favourite sport and the drivers pushed to the furthest limits of human and technical possibility. I admit to shouting at the TV as the cars circulate behind the safety car in conditions I’ve seen raced in in the ’90s and ’00s (different topic, I digress) … but these are sportspeople, not gladiators. Someone has to take responsibility out of the drivers’ (and, for that matter, the fans’) hands and consider this objectively. This device has the potential to save lives, without fundamentally changing F1 (pinnacle of motorsport, still open wheel, still open cockpit). Aesthetics is a secondary question. If they can make the solution, or a revised one e.g. aeroscreen, more elegant in the next few years then so be it, but we can’t have a situation where this is available and not on the cars.

3

I feel the Halo is a knee-jerk reaction to the tragic Bianchi accident. There were so many other factors in that accident that should have been addressed. The rain was much too heavy, it was too late in the day, but the worst problem was the tractor itself did not have a protective structure around the bottom of the body of the vehicle that Bianchi’s car could not have submarined under. In fact it was the exact opposite. That tractor was incredibly high off the ground and it’s body had an angled side that would force any impact downward. (I would even argue that the existence of the Halo is going to create more accidents blocking driver’s vision.)

4

The halo is not designed to help in an incident like Bianchi’s. No change to the cars would really help in that case. Instead, that was addressed with the introduction of the VSC.

No driver has raised any concern about visibility in two years of testing.

5

Just so long as it works.
It wouldn’t have saved Massa from that spring, but it should have saved Alonso when that car ran over his.
If a similar event happens and it proves it’s worth then it’ll be lauded but if an accident occurs that it couldn’t deal with anyway it’ll be condemned.

6

What are you on about re: Alonso, he didnt die or receive life threatening injury. Its ugly and type of accident it protect the driver from is something one needs to be extremely unlucky.

7

My god that Halo looks hideous. It’s the final nail in the coffin for real visceral F1 racing. The cars from the Senna/Prost.Mansell era were gorgeous and it was exciting because you knew the drivers were brave son of a bitches and you could actually see how hard they were working…. Now, it’s like watching a Polo pony match…. I usually read the news while I have the race on in the background now…

8

Would you argue the Halo would have been good or bad in the Schumacher Abu Dhabi crash? See photo in link.

http://sport24.lefigaro.fr/var/plain_site/storage/images/auto-moto/formule-1/diaporamas/la-carriere-de-michael-schumacher-en-images/crash-abu-dhabi/13988577-1-fre-FR/Crash-Abu-Dhabi_full_diapos_large.jpg

After watching the Amazon McLaren documentary and seeing a pan out of a race track I couldn’t help but wonder if race tracks/ motorsports will be the future colosseum’s a place where warriors went racing before it became socially unacceptable as occurred with the colosseum and gladiators etc… with the way the whole green movement, autonomous cars, grid girls ban, flying autonomous vehicles. Will motorsport go the way of the gladiators?

9

Anyone injured or dead as a result??? pointless comparison.

10

I’m old enough and have been a fan long enough to remember the days when the audience were in awe of the bravery and machismo of the drivers, often equating their skills and outright ba**s to fighter pilots. Now they’re more like bus drivers. In my opinion.
Progress has emasculated the drivers and all we have left as an audience to make us sit on the edge of our seats in sheer admiration of their audacity and fearlessness is Moto GP, WRC and their ilk.

I’m happy to leave F1 as it is currently, and as it continues to evolve, to the Snowflake Generation because I truly can’t relate to it any more.

11

Somebody commented that F1 cars should look like Indy cars…….what a bad joke. I used to be a big fan of the cars in the CART days, but these aberrations look absolutely horrible. They are not one thing or another, but some bastard hybrid from hell. If F1 goes down that road then I will leave on the next hybrid bus. This is open wheel racing, let us keep it that way.

12

The current indycars are in my opinion the sexiest single seaters in the world.

I challenge you to find a better looking singleseater that is currently active in racing.

13

@ Mansell…Indy cars are still open wheel race cars. They also are still open cockpit. If you think that F1 cars are in any way better looking then i think that you should enrol in a design course.

14

@Kenneth.. you can not teach taste.

15

I think he’s referring to the shrouds around the rear wheels.

Formula E has something similar.

IMO, F1 cars are better presented. The paint jobs on most Indy cars look cheap by comparison.

16

I’ll get used to it. Reminds me of the safer NFL helmets that came out a few years back. Looked silly at first, but now look normal.

17
Clarks4WheelDrift

Hope nothing ever gets broken by or deflected off the halo, then put into the cockpit and driver.

Say in a t-bone, side hit, similar to the Grosjean Hamilton crash that rode over Alonso’s Ferrari nose, pushing a suspension arm into the cockpit.

or

a piece of metal that would have hit the airbox being deflected down from the halo loop bar…

Freak accidents maybe, but look at Massas or Sennas for every Surtees or Wilson.

18

There’s no use pretending an accident like that wouldn’t be 10x worse without a halo. It could take a drivers head off. That’s like the one scenario where a halo might be… urg, a good thing.

We are trying to get rid of the halo, not justify its lamentable existence.

19

Would the installation of Halo type device have helped prevent Jules Bianchi’s fatal injuries? If so, the sport will really benefit from its arrival.

20

i think so. bianchi would still be racing had he warn a halo on his car.

21

It wouldn’t have helped.

If unsure – read about his specific injuries.

A tractor not being on the outside of a fast corner in aquaplaning conditions when there’s less than 10 laps to go would’ve helped. But the FIA would rather not acknowledge that.

22

the fact remains that the halo would have been between the tractor and bianchi’s helmet st the point of impact.

23

Would going closed cockpit be lighter than the current cars and halo?

24

Took winter leave from JaonF1, first thing I see is the hideous halo. Jeez, almost forgotten about it.

25

So Indycar today had a successful test of a windshield. Looks like they will be first to the market with it too. Frankly the Halo is an unacceptable solution given the windshield will likely be used by a major competitor by year end. If both sports require me to pay, I’ll be switching to Indycar.

26

@ Matt W….There was a time when i felt as though Indycar was a rather second class act but lately i have found myself getting more and more interested. This latest ‘screen’ issue is a very interesting one to pursue. If it does in fact meet all the criteria across all the circuits and venue types then they have shown the way forward. This more or less adds to the, new for ’18 cars, that they will be racing. They certainly look good and promise to enhance the racing according to comments from many of the drivers. I will be watching with great [ renewed ] interest.

27

is that why you’re posting on indy sites rather f1?

28

I find it really interesting to see that a number of the commenters here who supported the binning of gridgirls also seem to to welcome the addition of HALO.

It’s all about progress I guess. Progress progress progress. Chug chug chug chug. Progress is as progress does, my mama always used to say.

29
Clarks4WheelDrift

…”stupid is as stupid does”. Run FIA run. Run from the real F1 issues.

30

Am I reading this wrong or is Carey saying Fans decided to dump the girls?

Can someone tell Carey to reduce his words by 83.7% immediately? Can a person say this much without making a point? I mean…even I get to a point most of the time.

I think what he’s saying is that the girls being gone is the Fan’s fault, and that they had to go, but that pretty girls aren’t going away. I’m confused.

Carey appears to not be very good at handling backlash and push back. After reading a few of his interviews and quotes, I’m going to put my money squarely on Sergio in this upcoming match. Carey is absolutely out of his weight class after reading this gibberish. The more he speaks, the more it shows.

>
“I think the reaction [to the scrapping of grid girls] has been what we expected,” Carey told reporters.

“We’ve had some people who have been positive about it and others who were concerned. Unsurprisingly, many long-term fans view it as part of the sport they grew up with and I respect that.

“Actually if you just left it up to me, personally, I like the grid girls. But it’s not a decision for me, it’s a decision for fans.

And I think what we found is that a number of people anecdotally raised the issue, and as I went around what I found was there was a meaningful segment that found it … I don’t know whether offensive is too strong – but found it exploitative or did not find it appropriate for the world we live in today.

“I’d say on those who were OK with it, I got a lot more ‘I’m OK with it’ rather than ‘It’s important to me’.

So when you end up with this meaningful segment that felt it was outdated, that it had an exploitative element to it – and I recognise that many of the grid girls were proud to do it and I think that’s great – but I think when you have as many people as I found who felt it was outdated and didn’t belong in a sport today, I think you have to be cognisant of that.

“We’re going to maintain glamour. We’re going to continue to have pretty girls at races. I think it’s a part of life, and it’s a part of what makes our sport special. It is a sport of glamour and of mystique. But I think you have to continue to evolve.”

31

i don’t get this grid girl decision because cheer leaders as well as grid girls were used in austin.
i can only assume that it’s a cost cutting exercise.

32

Carey is telling the truth; the fans did decide to get rid of the grid girls.

Of course in Carey’s mind only those people who supported the removal of grid count as fans, those who do not cannot possibly be fans because how can it possible that all those politically incorrect anti-feminist apes can be fans of F1?

33

Gosh these Liberty people are full of it!!! Firstly Carey says, ‘I think, [ not know ] a number of people ‘anecdotally’ raised the issue’ and there’s more ‘a meaningful segment…’ who are these people? Why not name them outright? He goes on to suggest that ‘I found so many people who felt it was outdated..’ Once again what is ‘so many’. an overwhelming majority of fans? I call bullshit here. They are really hopeless. They’ve succumbed to the ‘sistahood’ and those left leaners who would reshape our society into a narrow band of mediocrity.

34

If I read that correctly, he’s basically saying LM caved to a vocal minority who didn’t like grid girls.

Did anyone stop to ask the people who were upset by grid girls if any of their dislike was driven by jealousy.

Kind of unrelated, but not. I got into an arguement with Simon Dolan, 2014 LMP2 Le Mans winner, on Twitter about Falcon Heavy. Simon said that Musk was wasting money with his rocket stunt, and that there were more important things to deal with. This…coming from a guy who drives cars in circles for fun. Like….this mindset has to at least partially be motivated by jealousy. I wasn’t able to finish the convo, as I was banned from Twitter. Another person in the convo, a former F1 photographer, suggested the world would be better off if humans stopped breeding. I told him to do is a favour and kill himself, and then I got banned for targeted harassment.

But like, the mindset of, “I can’t do what that other person is doing, and therefor they shouldn’t do it for reasons X, Y, and Z, to me, just wreaks of jealousy and envy.

Back to gridgirls, LM caved to a vocal minority who were either
-jealous and envious of grid girls
-think they know better than the rest of us Neanderthals, and therefor should engineer society according to their whims.

35

Are you an F1 fan?

You are why the grid girls are gone according to Carey.

The end.

Only a matter of time before beautiful people are banned from movies or public places. And probably a year or less away from no more sexual subject matter in any movies. Love scene? Do you have all the necessary permits? Psychologist on the set? Has the staff all taken sensitivity training? Have all the men taken argaiv? (That’s backwards viagr a)

36

Maybe if we fix the pay gap by fixing it so that a secretary makes as much as a construction worker, the feminists will let us have the grid girls back.

37

It looks bad, it is heavy and it raises wind resistance – all of that flies in the face of a championship that wants to show exciting and efficient cars.
And it also flies into the face of common sense, that kids in karts are completely unprotected, teenagers in F3 and lower formulas have their head exposed and they have to pay for their career but the most mature and experienced drivers, the best of the best, go with most protection whilst getting paid big time.

It should be the other way round: Protect the kids and the teenagers the most, and trust the best drivers to be able to handle some danger.

Every (not even Olympic) skier has a greater risk of severe injury than a Formula 1 driver. People throw themselves down an ice channel at 100-150 km/h pushing up to 5g cornering forces, wearing nothing but a helmet and spandex, sitting in sleds that weigh around 200 kg, and almost none of those kilos are are protecting the drivers, how does that compare to Formula 1? How does Formula 1 match up with exciting racing compared to that? How can we expect Formula-1 drivers to be daredevil artists in exciting cars, if their risk is outmatched by everyone taking part in club sports?

38

I’m absolutely certain that viewing figures in F1 will rise as a direct result of the halo.

39

Hahah what?

If that happens it will only be because the sport has sunk so low.

Halo means I won’t be back, I quit watching in mid 2014

40

i agree.

41

This device seems like it will slow down the driver exit should the car be on fire. James if we compare flying objects to car son fire which stat would come out on top? I thonk we all know the answer.

42

It’s a long time since an F1 car went on fire

Fuel tanks are bags that are very hard to rupture and there is no refuelling..

43

Still fuel and oil lines exist. Remember Heidfeld’s Lotus for example? Imagine that in a car on its head with fuel dripping down…

44

Thanks for the response James.

Maybe my question was posed incorrectly. when we see those spectacular engine blow ups resulting in flames and the drivers jump out of the car, would the Halo not make for a slower exit

45

Hugo’s point: “The anger around the Halo is just hilarious and I hope everyone who brings this kind of negativity to the sport gets fed up and sods off.”

Any chance of a minus-in-a-circle to click on, next to the plus one? That should send a message to the nay-sayers….

46

surely they are mad at something else!

47

Hamilton’s Mercedes in Malaysia 2016?

48

Hmmm. James, excuse my ignorance but in some scenarios does the halo slow cockpit egress?

Just because it’s been a long time doesn’t mean there isn’t potential.

49

watch how the halo’s used this season..

50
Clarks4WheelDrift

don’t worry, soon the drivers will grab the halo then press a James Bond eject button to be blasted free.

(Just don’t mention James Bond alongside F1, sexist dinosaur likes attreactive women after all!)

51

Love the word egress!

One would imagine yes. I’ll look forward to seeing it in testing

52

BTW It ain’t pretty, either.

53

If Formula E can make their Gen 2 car look sexy as hell with a halo, surely the combined design and engineering might of F1 teams can do it too.

Personally I enjoy watching people get crazy mad about things like this in F1 that won’t change the racing. Grid girls was a great example of this. The anger around the Halo is just hilarious and I hope everyone who brings this kind of negativity to the sport gets fed up and sods off.

The racing in F1 has been great to watch over the last few years, even with Mercedes away at the front. We’ve seen strong battles all down the grid. If you’re a racing fan it’s been fantastic.

Bring on this year, bring on the halo (to save lives, Jules Bianchi would probably still be alive if his car had one) and grid kids (anyone with a daughter who is curious about driving or engineering thinks this is a great step forward for the sport), and if you don’t like it there’s probably a historical series somewhere that you can watch instead.

Everyone wins!

54

I can only speak for myself, but I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way.

I’m not mad. I’m not mad about HALO. I’m not mad Grid Girls are gone and replaced with school kids. I’m not mad the cars sound like vacuums.

I’m not mad, upset, or angry about any of those things.

I am LAUGHING!!! Laughing my mother [mod]ing ass off!!

55

My question. Why was ferrari the only team that voted from halo?

56

James, will we see these halos at the car launches or will they wait for first day of testing?

57

At the launches, they are a structural part of the car, not a bolt on like in 2017 vision tests

58
Tornillo Amarillo

James, Indycar windscreen made with jet fighter technology, now under test, sounds a smart solution, what do you know about it?

59

This is the best ‘least worse’ option by far!

Lets hope the knee jerk safety brigade take note.

60

I saw it being tested by Scott Dixon at Phoenix and it actually looks really good as part of a whole car, much better than it does in this pic and certainly much better than the riot shield concept that red bull tested in 2016.

I don’t know what it is about F1 that causes them to keep coming with bad decisions. I can understand that occasionly you can get things wrong, but in F1 it seems that everything they do is wrong. It’s almost as if somebody is sabotaging F1 from the inside.

61

vettel tested the same screen and said it made him dizzy. i guess they could’ve tested it on other cars to see if it had the same effect on other drivers.
i like the halo anyway.

62

Not much but it is a much more elegant and appropriate looking solution

63

how about it’s ventillation challenges?

64
Tornillo Amarillo

I agree, thank you, and it should be strong I guess.

65

Remember that IndyCars don’t race in the wet.

66

Umm…watch some Indycar man. They race in the wet on street and road courses all the time.

67

..on ovals

68

You’re right, I’m wrong. Apologies.

Explanation for the so inclined: I’ve watched a good few indycar races (including “road courses”, albeit in fine weather) and when it rains they stop and wait. I have concluded (incorrectly, as it happens) that indycar doesn’t race in the wet. My mistake.

69

“Stop and wait,” just like F1…or they try trundle along behind the safety car.

70

It reminds me of a dog poo with a little flag stuck in it to alert people to it having been left on the footpath.
And equally pointless.

71

James. have you heard anything about fitting the halo with cameras?
Now that the driver will be more obscured, it seems like a good opportunity to get more eyes in the cockpit.

72

Makes perfect sense, depends a bit on what angle it gives of course

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