Car Tech

F1's Future 'Halo' Cockpits Are The Sport's Biggest Change In Years

The safety of its cars is one of Formula 1’s most controversial aspects, with the open-cockpit open-wheelers suffering several driver head impacts in recent years, some of them critically injuring or even killing drivers. F1’s governing body wants ‘halo’ cockpits introduced into the sport by 2017, despite drivers’ mixed feelings, and several different — incredibly different — designs are being tested by F1 constructor teams.

Image: has the latest example of the ‘halo’, this one being an almost-closed cockpit concept proposed by Red Bull and drawn by journalist and F1 analyst Giorgio Piola. While it’s not quite as intrusive as other designs, it’s a lot closer to the closed, sealed cockpits of the FIA World Endurance Championship, where cars like the Porsche 919 Hybrid and Audi R18 e-tron quattro have significantly more protection against debris and impact for the drivers inside.

Ferrari has tested a different, open-windscreen variant, and Mercedes’ prototype has gone through simulation as well. Neither of those use acrylic windscreens in the cockpit, but have a central vertical strut rather than Red Bull’s two. The current halo design doesn’t sit well with the onboard cameras, either — those will likely have to be moved once the protective cockpits are mandated. []

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