How the halo's London bus load requirement saved Hamilton

As Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen collided at Monza's Variante del Rettifilo during the Italian Grand Prix, it proved to be another win for Formula 1's halo device.

Verstappen's Red Bull was launched into the air by the array of sausage kerbs, precipitating contact between the underside of his car and Hamilton's halo.

Had the halo not been introduced to F1's regulations in 2018, there is a very real chance that Hamilton would not have walked out of the incident unscathed.

However, the strength of the secondary roll structure ensured that Hamilton's head was kept away from being touched by the full weight of Verstappen's car, and was only briefly tagged by the Dutchman's right-rear wheel as they both came to rest in the gravel.

The halo was initially devised to limit the chance of larger-scale debris entering the cockpit space and injuring drivers, such as Justin Wilson's fatal IndyCar incident at Pocono in 2015.

It has also proved to be a valuable asset in situations with larger loads too, keeping Charles Leclerc safe at Spa in 2018 and protecting F2 driver Tadasuke Makino from a crash with countryman Nirei Fukuzumi at Barcelona the same year.

The strength of the halo also ensured that, when Romain Grosjean sustained his horror crash at Bahrain in 2020, it was able to tear through the Armco barrier and keep the French driver's head out of the firing line.

Although teams may manufacture aerodynamic fairings for the halo, the internal titanium structure must be made by an FIA-approved supplier – so this is a part of the car that the teams do not build themselves.

Titanium has a high tensile strength, and offers a desirable strength to weight ratio. This ensures that the entire halo structure weighs around 7kg.

Furthermore, the FIA's official crash tests mandate a peak maximum vertical loading of 116kN, which roughly equates to 12000kg.

Mercedes W12 halo detail

Mercedes W12 halo detail

Photo by: Uncredited

"There are changes that we needed to do to accommodate it to ensure the overall car would still stay below the weight limit," Mercedes technical chief James Allison explained back in 2018.

"It's also not light because it takes really high loads. We had to strengthen the design of the chassis so it would be able to take roughly the weight of a London double decker bus sitting on top of the halo.

"We needed to make sure it would be strong enough to withstand the type of event it was designed to protect the driver against."

For further reference, that 12000kg would also be enough to fend off three full-size Indian elephants, 109 Arnold Schwarzeneggers, or 550,000,000 grains of rice.

Thus, the 752kg Red Bull car of Max Verstappen ensured that Hamilton was well defended against a shock impact, protecting his head from injury.

"I don't think I've ever been hit on the head by a car before," Hamilton said after the impact.

"And it's quite a shock for me because if you've seen the image my head really is quite far forward. I've been racing a long, long time.

Read Also:

"I'm so grateful that I'm still here and felt incredibly blessed that obviously someone was watching over me today. His rear wheel landed on my head, it landed on the halo.

"I think the inside of the most cambered part of the tyre landed on my head. I think that's going to be travelling with me these next days but I probably will need to see a specialist just to make sure I'm good for the next race because it is getting tighter and tighter.

"As I said, I'll live."

Although the halo was much maligned when F1 first introduced it, it has more than proven its worth on multiple occasions – and Sunday's incident between the two title contenders has added to its list of testimonials.

The damaged car of Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

The damaged car of Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

shares
comments
Portimao added to F1 2021 video game in first major update

Previous article

Portimao added to F1 2021 video game in first major update

Next article

Italian Grand Prix driver ratings

Italian Grand Prix driver ratings
Load comments
The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team Prime

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team

Emerson Fittipaldi is better remembered for his Formula 1 world championships and Indianapolis 500 successes than for the spell running his eponymous F1 team. Despite a hugely talented roll call of staff, it was a period of internal strife, limited funding and few results - as remembered by Tim Wright.

Formula 1
Oct 18, 2021
Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence Prime

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence

In the 1960s and 1970s, McLaren juggled works entries in F1, sportscars and the Indy 500 while building cars for F3 and F2. Now it’s returning to its roots, expanding into IndyCars and Extreme E while continuing its F1 renaissance. There’s talk of Formula E and WEC entries too. But is this all too much, too soon? Stuart Codling talks to the man in charge.

Formula 1
Oct 17, 2021
How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Prime

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

Formula 1
Oct 15, 2021
The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages Prime

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages

OPINION: After Lewis Hamilton responded to reports labelling him 'furious' with Mercedes following his heated exchanges over team radio during the Russian Grand Prix, it provided a snapshot on how Formula 1 broadcasting radio snippets can both illuminate and misrepresent the true situation

Formula 1
Oct 14, 2021
How F1’s pole winner approach undermines drivers Prime

How F1’s pole winner approach undermines drivers

OPINION: Valtteri Bottas is credited with pole position for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, despite being beaten in qualifying. This is another example of Formula 1 and the FIA scoring an own goal by forgetting what makes motorsport magic, with the Istanbul race winner also a victim of this in the championship’s recent history

Formula 1
Oct 13, 2021
Turkish Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

Turkish Grand Prix driver ratings

On a day that the number two Mercedes enjoyed a rare day in the sun, the Turkish Grand Prix produced several standout drives - not least from a driver who has hit a purple patch of late

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for Turkey glory Prime

The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for Turkey glory

Starting 11th after his engine change grid penalty, Lewis Hamilton faced a tough task to repeat his Turkish Grand Prix heroics of 2020 - despite making strong early progress in the wet. Instead, his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas broke through for a first win of the year to mitigate Max Verstappen re-taking the points lead

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form Prime

How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form

A Formula 1 pitstop is a rapid-fire blend of high technology and human performance. PAT SYMONDS describes how the science of margin gains makes stops so quick

Formula 1
Oct 10, 2021