Halo and F1: Time to accept it and move on

Maurice Hamilton3 Minute Read

Wolff exclusive: I'd saw the Halo off if I could!

Mercedes F1 executive director, Toto Wolff, doesn't hold back when talking to ESPN about F1's new cockpit protection.

An impression that the Halo is simply plonked on the cockpit of a race car like some titanium monstrosity is negated by the brief but informative video Mercedes released this week.

Technical chief James Allison needs no exaggeration to get across the detail study made necessary by the need to have the Halo and chassis support the weight of a London double-deck bus. For non-techies like me, such a powerful analogy is far more effective than simply saying they have to deal with a load of 12.65 tonnes.

The video also begins to literally put the Halo in some sort of perspective. As a piece of kit sitting on the workbench, the three-legged device looks irredeemably unattractive and you fear for the impression it will give on the car. Allison admits as much when he says: "It's a bit of an acquired taste -- and we're still busy acquiring it."

But that is a subtext to the challenge that Allison and his team are clearly relishing. With the Halo's negative aerodynamic implications for the rest of the car, this is an area in which detail work with the permitted aero modifications and can find the sort of miniscule performance advantage that motivates F1 designers from Milton Keynes to Maranello.

As Allison says, this is just the start and it can only get better as they improve safety and aesthetics. The problem is, complaints about the latter seem to be outweighing the fundamental need for the former.

Even allowing for the questionable criticism of making motor sport 'too safe', once the Halo was brought into the public domain, there was no alternative but to apply it. Had the sport's administrators not done so and a driver received a head injury, the high moralistic horses mounted by the sport's detractors would have trampled all over the questionable caveat that motor racing is dangerous and the unfortunate driver knew the risks.

The unspoken message from the video is that, complain all you like, but the Halo is what it is -- so let's get on with it. I don't like the Halo any more than I felt overjoyed about high cockpit sides taking away the sight of a driver working the wheel.

Sutton Images

The 'ugly' argument, valid though it is, has to be questionable when hardly anyone spoke out about hideous front wings. And the wings don't have the potential to save lives. Quite the reverse, in fact, given the potential to litter the track with carbon and send bits in the air.

The betting is that when the 2019 cars are unveiled in 12 months time, the Halo will pass without comment. This is just the start of the Halo development. So let's take a deep breath and move on.