The Formula One cockpit halo has been controversial from day one, often seen as a necessary evil at best or an ugly symbol of how “soft” the inherently dangerous sport has become. It’s true that it doesn’t look great. But today at the Belgian Grand Prix, it very well may have proved its worth.
The safety halo is being praised by teams, drivers and journalists today as a reason Sauber’s Charles Leclerc wasn’t badly hurt when Fernando Alonso’s McLaren went sailing over Leclerc’s head today. In a first lap incident, Nico Hulkenberg locked his front wheels, hit Alonso and sent Alonso’s car into the air toward Leclerc.
Here’s a video that will probably get pulled. You can watch a better, fuller version on F1’s website:
Yeah, that could have gone a lot worse than it did.
Retired F1 champ Nico Rosberg tweeted a photo that shows the damage to the top left portion of Leclerc’s halo, and he didn’t mince words: “it will save lives.” ESPN reports it’s credited with successfully deflecting Alonso’s car away from what could have been Leclerc’s head.
And understandably, Leclerc himself was glad it was there too:
As we’ve said many times before, racing will always be inherently dangerous, but that’s also why it’s necessary to keep innovating to make it safer for drivers, audiences and crews alike. And the halo concept leaves Spa with some vindication today.