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: Motorsport.com

Motorsport.com 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. [Motorsport.com]



    If there is to be an acrylic screen in the design there needs to be a way for the drivers to clean it on the fly ie Windscreen wipers. All kinds of oil and stuff spits around the place and the drivers have the helmet visor tear offs to aid this. Often see a bug or something hit the onboard camera but they seem to have a scrolling protector to keep the image clear. Wipers would of course add weight with the motor and assembly (even 200g makes a difference) and have an aerodynamic affect so will be interesting to see how this is handled.

    Would be interesting to know if this 'halo' would have saved Jules Bianchi in his crash as that seems to be one of the main reasons for this safety feature.

      I don't think this is supposed to stop something like the Bianchi crash. There's not really anything you can do about a sidelong crash at over 100 km/h. It's for things like Felipe Massa or Henry Surtees in 2009, where debris hit the drivers in the head. And it sounds like it'll be fairly useful for that.

        But if it's an open design (no windscreen) how will that stop debris? Even if they implement a windscreen the talk was that it will be acrylic, obviously with weight in mind there, and that's going to do the best part of stuff all. The 'loose spring' that hit Massa at 170mph is going to take a hell of a lot of stopping and judging from the images I think it would have got through the 'halo' bars anyway. The tyre that struck Surtees I can see the halo helping with that. Most likely the tyre hits the bar and deflects it away from the driver.

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