During the opening lap at Silverstone, Formula One driver Zhou Guanyu’s vehicle flipped multiple times at approximately 200 mph and collided with a grandstand barrier.
Amazingly, the Alfa Romeo driver avoided major injury and lived.
He claims that he is the most recent driver to be saved by the halo safety system. What is it, though, and how does it operate?
Halo is a wishbone-shaped titanium bar that encircles the head of the driver and rests on top of the car’s cockpit.
It is made to support the weight of a double-decker London bus, or 12 tons, balanced on a 7 kilograms carbon fiber coated frame.
F1 has always been a risky sport, but in recent years, safety has received special attention as a result of the fatalities of Justin Wilson in an IndyCar race in 2015, Jules Bianchi at the 2014 F1 Japanese Grand Prix, and Henry Surtees in a Formula 2 race in 2009.
After being struck in the head by debris of other automobiles, Surtees and Wilson died.
For the purpose of preventing drivers’ heads from being struck by flying objects or a flipping car, Halo was first tested in F1 in 2016 before becoming a rule in the sport two years later, in 2018.
After extensive testing, it was discovered to be the only contraption that could successfully deflect a wheel fired at it at 150 mph.
It was also the only safety feature that offered a nearly uninterrupted vision, which was critical for drivers.
Halo was not used for several years because many people, including Bernie Ecclestone, the head of Formula One at the time, were against it.
“People didn’t like how it looked, in their opinion. People didn’t like that the driver’s head was covered by a large bar “Harry Benjamin, an F1 analyst, tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.
“The other debate centered on how it may be impacting the driver’s ability to see beyond the cockpit. Both were shown to be false. People have become accustomed to it over the past few years.”
Lewis Hamilton referred to it as the “worst-looking alteration” in the history of the sport in 2016. But a few years later, Hamilton said that the incident at the Italian Grand Prix in 2021 had saved his life.