The FIA’s research of the halo involved simulating Fernando Alonso’s Australian Grand Prix barrel-roll with the cockpit protection device attached.
Remember Alonso’s huge crash at last year’s season-opener in Melbourne? It’s hard to forget and is undoubtedly one of the biggest F1 shunts we’ve seen in the last decade.
The FIA has used the barrel-roll to help research and develop the much talked about ‘halo’, simulating the crash with the cockpit protection device.
Alonso’s car flipped after clashing with Esteban Gutierrez’s Haas under braking for Turn 3. Thankfully both drivers emerged largely unscathed, although Alonso was not deemed fit to compete in the next race.
The halo has been tested extensively on and off track, with all 2016 drivers getting a chance to try it out during the second half of the F1 season.
It’s produced a mixed reaction among fans and drivers. The FIA said last year it still intends on bringing in cockpit protection for 2018 and the halo is the preferred option.
Here’s what FIA deputy race director and safety director is quoted saying by Autosport during the Motorsport Safety Fund’s annual Watkins Lecture at the Autosport show:
“We looked specifically at that [Alonso] accident when we did the halo study. We have seen how the car landed, but the main question was what happens if the guy needs to come out. The answer is in two parts. The first part is the standard procedures are that the marshals get the car back on its wheels.
“We accept that if the guy feels good he will never wait for that, he will try to go out. It’s not a great idea if you consider the car with the electrical system in it and we would prefer that he waits, but we understand it’s that way. We put one of our chassis upside down with a halo, we put Andy Mellor [consultant for the Global Institute for Motor Sport Safety] into it as the worst case scenario and we asked him to come out exactly in Fernando’s position and incredibly he did.
“So we feel in that case, the halo actually creates breathing space for the driver. When we showed that to the drivers, they were not impressed with Andy’s speed to get out of the car, but they actually asked to try it before the halo is introduced so one day they will get that training.”
He later added that the halo research and development is now complete, so it’s up to F1 bosses to decide whether it’s introduced or another cockpit protection device is brought in.