The official investigation into the Leclerc accident, which was caused when Fernando Alonso was tipped over the top of the Sauber by a late-braking Nico Hulkenberg at the first corner, has concluded the crucial role the halo played in preventing injuries.
As well as the halo standing up without damage to the 58kN strike that it took from Alonso’s right-front wheel, analysis has shown that it deflected the car away from striking Leclerc’s helmet.
Without the halo, the FIA believes that Alonso’s front wing endplate would have hit Leclerc on the visor – although it cannot be sure about how severe the contact would have been.
Despite the clear safety benefits of the halo, some still do not like its aesthetics – and would have preferred F1 to have pursued the ‘Aeroscreen’ windshield idea that both Red Bull and Ferrari tested on track.
But F1 race director Charlie Whiting says that the nature of the accident in Spa was such that, had the Aeroscreen been there instead of a halo, it would not have offered anywhere near as much protection.
“What we’ve seen with the accident in Spa is that the sort of device tested by IndyCar would probably not have been as effective, it would probably only offer about 10% of the protection that Halo offers,” explained Whiting.
The FIA is committed to the halo for now, and it is working on ensuring that the cockpit protection system appears more integrated with the overall design of the new generations of cars that are coming for 2021.
FIA safety director Adam Baker told Motorsport.com: “The next generation of halo will be part of the F1 regulation update planned for 2021.
“Importantly the halo is a key element of the car concept from the beginning, enabling a true structural integration and a shape which blends visually into the profile of the car.”
In the shorter team the Leclerc incident, on the back of the F2 accident involving Tadasuke Makino and Nirei Fukuzumi at this year’s Spanish Grand Prix, has given it a wealth of data to help improve safety even further in the future.
The calculation of the loads applied to the halo will, for example, assist it to determine the performance criteria and scope for new material use for the future generation designs. The FIA’s next step is to integrate a high speed camera in to the halo itself.
Baker explains: “The new camera position gives us a better view of the upper body and its interaction with the cockpit environment without obstruction from the steering wheel.
“The halo camera will be fitted in all cars for the first Formula E race of season 5 in Riyadh. It will then be adopted into F1 for 2019 and F2 for 2020.”
Charles Leclerc, Sauber C37, Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33 collide at the start of the race
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / LAT Images