Formula 1 driver Zhou Guanyu probably wouldn’t be alive today without the partially enclosed titanium device that formed a protective layer around the cockpit of his race car. Zhou has credited the protective device, known as a halo, with saving his life after a horrific crash during the opening lap of Sunday’s British Grand Prix, Zhou said. CNN†
“I’m okay, everything is clear. Halo saved me today,” Zhou tweeted Sunday, along with a selfie. “Thank you everyone for your sweet messages!”
Zhou was one of several drivers involved in the first corner crash in which his Alfa Romeo overturned and skidded down the track before hitting the railings. The halo, which provides partial protection around the cockpit, prevented Zhou from sustaining serious injuries.
According to CNN†
Zhou’s car got stuck between the tire barrier and the guardrail, which is there to protect fans. It took a while to get out due to the awkward placement of the car.
Mercedes’ George Russell, who made contact with Zhou during the collision, immediately got out of his car when it came to a stop and ran over to Zhou to check on Zhou.
The rookie, who is the first Chinese driver to compete in F1, was eventually pictured being carried away by emergency medical personnel and later released from prison after being assessed at the medical centre.
Introduced by F1 in 2018, the halo was initially opposed by some drivers, although several have since been credited with saving their lives. The concept leaked in 2015 after IndyCar driver Justin Wilson died during a race when his head was hit by debris. (A number of other F1 and IndyCar drivers have been killed in similar incidents.)
The halo was originally designed by Mercedes-Benz Motorsports, but the FIA took over the development process and began a round of testing in the fall. Other designs were tested, including a similar design proposal from the Red Bull Racing team.
As F1 is considered the most prestigious racing series, many have been looking forward to leading the way in this area, and in some ways it has. F1 originally planned to introduce halo cockpits to the sport in 2017, but the plan was postponed due to the “relatively short time frame” to implement the requirement. Halos were finally introduced the following year. Formula E, the electric motorsport series, also includes halo cockpits in its race cars – including some LED accents.
Halo cockpits have angered some motorsport fans for the way it can ruin the aesthetic. But if you’re flying through a hairpin at 300mph and the slightest touch of a bumper can send a race car spinning through the air, the halo could mean the difference between life and death.