What is the halo in Formula 1? Safety device explained

Jake Nichol September 12, 2021
Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen crashed out of the Italian Grand Prix after a scary collision at Turn 1. What part did the Formula 1 halo system play in the incident and did it save Hamilton?

Halo safety device saves another Formula 1 driver

On Lap 26 of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Hamilton had just emerged from the pit lane after making his first pitstop.

The Mercedes F1 driver rejoined the track side-by-side with title rival Verstappen, who had suffered a 11.1s slow a lap earlier.

Hamilton squeezed Verstappen wide at Turn 1, but the Red Bull driver refused to yield, sticking the nose of the Red Bull up the inside at the left-hander.

Verstappen rode the sausage kerb and was launched over the back of Hamilton’s car.

The Red Bull destroyed Hamilton’s on-board camera, with his rear tyres coming down on top of the Mercedes’ cockpit.

Hamilton’s halo safety device kept the floor of the Red Bull clear of his head, and deflected the rear tyres.

The Briton ducked down in the cockpit, with both drivers fortunate to avoid serious injury.

Both retired on the spot, bringing out the safety car.

Verstappen’s championship lead remains at five points following Hamilton’s first DNF since the 2018 Austrian GP.

What is the halo Formula One safety device?

Introduced ahead of 2018, the halo safety device is a titanium ring that loops around the cockpit of F1 cars.

It is designed to deflect debris and tyres away from the driver’s head – the most vulnerable and exposed part of their body.

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Visibility for the drivers isn’t reduced as the openings of the halo allow the drivers to look freely out either side.

Has the halo saved any other drivers?

The most famous instance of the halo safety device saving an F1 driver’s life came in the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Romain Grosjean was spat towards the armco barrier on the opening lap after contact.

His Haas hit the armco and exploded into flames.

However, the halo safety device fitted to his car pushed the armco up and allowed Grosjean a space in which to escape.

If the halo was not fitted, Grosjean’s head would have hit the armco, which would have lead to non-survivable injuries.

Photo by TOLGA BOZOGLU/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The first instance of the halo saving a driver from injury or worse came at the 2018 Belgian GP.

Fernando Alonso was launched over the back of Charles Leclerc’s Sauber.

The front wing and tyre assembly of the McLaren was broken by the halo, deflecting it away from Leclerc’s head.

Earlier that year, in an F2 round in Spain, Japanese driver Tadasuke Makino credited the halo with saving his life after an incident with another car.

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Jake can usually be found writing about or watching anything to do with motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British Truck Racing. His work as a motorsport journalist has been published by the likes of Autosport, Motorsport.com and Motorsport News – all highly respected names. Away from racing he is a keen amateur astronomer, podcast listener and enjoys long walks in the park with his three dogs.