What safety device saved your life

Halo safety device - life-saving titanium halo

It is said that Romain Grosjean had a thousand guardian angels in his fire accident in the Formula 1 race in Bahrain. But it is much more true: the Formula 1 driver had a halo. The halo.

That is the name of the safety device introduced in 2018 on single-seat racing cars, which surrounds the pilot's head and, that was the original plan, is supposed to protect him from flying parts. On Sunday in Bahrain, the halo split the guardrail that Grosjean crashed into, saving the Frenchman's head and life.

The name of the bracket, which is connected to the chassis at three points, goes back to the ancient Greek word "halos" (atrium). The S at the end was given to each other in English (halo = halo) as in German. Chaos is also ancient Greek, but much more well-known - chaos often reigns, and it also prevailed in Formula 1 in 2016. The Halo was already waiting for its premiere, it was planned for 2017, but was postponed for a year. The opinion in the paddock was divided. Some spoke out against the halo - also because of alleged visual impairment - others wanted a brisk introduction. By the way, Grosjean was one of the Halo critics at the time.

Nine kilos for more security

Serious accidents had prompted the world motor sport federation Fia to invest in safety. In 2009, the young Briton Henry Surtees, son of the legendary John Surtees, had a fatal accident in an F2 race. A tire hit his head and he crashed unconscious into a wall. A little later, the Brazilian Felipe Massa was hit in the head by a steel spring in the F1 race in Hungary. In October 2014, Frenchman Jules Bianchi crashed into the rear of a recovery vehicle in Suzuka, and in July 2015 he succumbed to his injuries.

The halo, a titanium component developed by Mercedes, weighs nine kilograms. The requirements are described in Fia standard 8869-2018. It can be translated as saying that the halo has to withstand the weight of two African bull elephants - that is around twelve tons - as well as a full suitcase that was fired at it at 225 km / h. A simulation with data from 40 real accidents showed that the Halo increases a driver's chance of survival by 17 percent.

On Sunday the Fia was 100% confirmed. In any case, one of them has fundamentally changed his mind. "The halo," says Romain Grosjean now, "is just great." (Fritz Neumann, November 30th, 2020)