It was images that caused horror in the Formula 1 world. Guanyu Zhou flew headfirst into the safety fence in his Alfa Romeo. After the race, the Alfa Romeo driver spoke up: “It was a serious accident and I’m glad I’m okay,” said Zhou. “Halo”, the roll bar, has once again proved to be the savior in an emergency. It has been mandatory in Formula 1 since 2018. This is how Zhou survived the frightening slide over asphalt and gravel bed and the impact in the fence without major injuries. “Without Halo, he wouldn’t be there anymore. Of course he was very lucky there,” said world champion Max Verstappen.
Before the introduction, however, there were still heated debates about the “halo” among drivers. They feared that the field of vision would be too limited. “Today showed again that the halo really belongs in Formula 1,” said Verstappen. Alfa team principal Frederic Vasseur stated: “Working on safety in our Sport improving is never done. This day reminds us how important that is.”
Cockpit Protection was developed in response to several momentous incidents. In Hungary in 2009, for example, the Brazilian Felipe Massa was severely injured in the head by a metal spring. In the same year, Henry Surtees (18) was fatally hit by a flying tire in Formula 2 at Brands Hatch.
According to the world association FIA, the “Halo” has to withstand the weight of two African elephants (around twelve tons for two male animals) and a full suitcase, which is fired at 225 km/h. “Safety is our top priority,” stressed FIA President Mohammed bin Sulayem at Silverstone. Williams driver Alexander Albon also survived a serious accident at the start without major injuries and was released from the hospital on Sunday evening.
Even in the Formula 2 junior class, the “halo” on Sunday had already prevented worse things from happening. In a collision, the Norwegian Dennis Hauger’s car landed at cockpit height on Roy Nissany’s car. The Israeli remained unharmed thanks to the titanium bar. “The halo probably saved two lives today,” said Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz after his first victory in the premier class at Silverstone and emphasized with a view to the increasingly comprehensive safety measures: “I’m very happy to be in Formula 1 at this time drive.”