Josef Newgarden, Penske, winsdscreen test, Indianapolis, IndyCar, 2018

Canopy could be solution to Halo’s poor aesthetics – Wolff

2018 F1 season

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says Charles Leclerc’s Spa crash convinced him that Formula 1 needs Halo, but he still believes its aesthetics must be improved.

When the Halo was introduced at the beginning of the season Wolff said he wanted to take a chainsaw to it. But speaking at last week’s FIA Gala, Wolff admitted “I’ve changed my mind.”

“But I still don’t like the aesthetics of it,” he added. “I hope we find a solution for the future that looks good.

“I really like Charles, he’s a young, upcoming racer that deserves to be in Formula 1, and I would not have forgiven myself if we had voted against the Halo and we would have had a severe incident with a potentially catastrophic outcome.

“Even though to aesthetically it’s not what I what I like, I think it’s a super initiatives that has shown us its merits and I’m happy that Jean pushed it through and they didn’t take a chainsaw [to it] at the beginning of this season.”

Wolff suggested a fully enclosed cockpit could be considered for future introduction.

“I think we need to get the right balance between aesthetics and safety,” he said. “I personally like the closed canopies like fighter jets.”

IndyCar tested a canopy solution called the ‘windscreen’ earlier this year. However FIA race director Charlie Whiting said in September it would only be 10% as effective as the Halo in a crash such as Leclerc’s.

Wolff believes further discussion is needed. “We just need to, between the teams and the FIA the commercial rights holder, work proactively in a collaborative manner on solutions that look great and save lives,” he said.

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  • 39 comments on “Canopy could be solution to Halo’s poor aesthetics – Wolff”

    1. The halo could look better but I don’t think it’s as bad as it could be. I don’t think the canopy’s quite the right solution as I’m not convinced it could take a strike from another car yet.

    2. I’m well used to the halo aesthetically, and think it can only look better when more integrated onto a car by design rather than having to be bolted on. 2021 should provide a great opportunity to include a halo that looks more like it belongs.

      Still not convinced a windscreen is effective or doable given for example how dirty it could get and how much it would affect the aero of the cars. And I certainly still believe that a fighter jet style canopy is impossible without completely changing what F1 cars look like, such would they have to be changed to accommodate such a thing. There is no way they can just bolt on a canopy and the cars would have to look more like Lemans cars than F1 cars as we’ve known them…not worth the risk of F1’s extinction for a marginal bit more safety compared to what they have now.

    3. This is the same guy who thought it was great that cars exceed the track limits, to see them at their limit. The guy has way to much to say and is maybe drunk on the teams success.

      As for the halo, its an ugly solution to a problem that does exist but is way way way over emphasised

    4. I wish they investigated the windscreen a bit further as Indycar didn’t seem to have the same dizzyness problem. I would be happy if they got rid of that central pillar to be honest though.

      1. I believe the dizziness came from Ferrari’s attempt at a windscreen when Vettel tried it. The difference with it compared to the IndyCar one is that the Ferrari one not just wrapped around the cockpit but curved downward somewhat toward the drivers helmet in order to perform some of the function they’ve been looking for, namely protection from large debris coming down on the drivers’ heads. The complex curvature that the Ferrari attempt had, caused too much visual distortion. The IndyCar version is less complex, but does little for what they are trying to achieve in F1 which is protection from above.

        1. @robbie it was not a Ferrari prototype. It was developed by a company called Isoclima to a brief set by the FIA. Ferrari simply volunteered to run it.

          On an unrelated, I could live with a structural halo (no aero, no casing) so it would be thinner augmented by a screen instead of the central pillar. This would hopefully provide protection from above matching the Halo and greater protection against horizontally projected debris better than the central pillar.

          But maybe the transparent material needed for that doesnt exist yet.

          1. I’m fine with the Halo as it is. From an article I read somewhere, I do agree where it said that overtime the Halo’s design and construction would likely be more integrated (and pleasing to the eyes) without compromising safety as the teams/FIA master its construction.

            If there is anything I’d like changed immediately, it would be for the FIA to ban all those fairings/rakes/areo devices teams attach to the device. I’d prefer if they kept the halo simple — as it was originally designed to look (maybe better to outsource it to a single manufacturer?). Additionally (if they are able to), maybe the FIA can split/fork the center column since I think this will make the Halo less overbearing (provided its structural integrity isn’t compromised, of course).

            Lastly, although the canopy/windscreen looks aesthetically pleasing, I doubt it will achieve the kind of results the Halo was designed to do. The FIA at the moment are prioritizing saving drivers from the impact of large objects/projectiles (e.g. an errant wheel or even a tractor); rather than small debris.

            1. Splitting the center column would only make the halo less safe. The center post is not a vision issue. All single seaters place things like antennas, pitot tubes and other gadgets right there in front of the driver. Humans have stereoscopic vision. The center column is not an issue. But if you make it two columns they become an issue.

              The center column is great because it provides protection for the driver from any objects coming from straight ahead and deflects them away. If you put two columns there (assuming 10 and 2 directions?) you just create a situation where the columns deflect incoming objects towards the driver. Objects that would have otherwise missed the driver completely. And anything coming from straight ahead hits the driver dead on.

              Any two column solution also hinders vision greatly because it puts the columns right in the view of the driver when he is looking into corners. The single center column design allows the column to be extremely narrow and because the driver looks straight through it – it basically disappears. But when you put the same columns to the left and right in front of the driver the driver does not look through them anymore. The driver looks at the columns from an angle which makes it 10x wider because of the change in perspective. Like paper is thin when you look at it from the side but as you rotate the paper it becomes really wide really quickly. It is a difference of holding one hand up in front of your eyes in the middle or holding both your hands sideways little bit left and right away from the center of your vision.

          2. No halo would protect against tractors, they would be crushed and the halo would have made no difference in Jules’ situation. I think NO device can protect against tractors – unless you like modern battle tank racing.

    5. I just don’t care anymore. I’m perfectly fine with the Halo.

    6. I wonder what happens if you take a chainsaw against a halo. I suppose it would break miserably.

      1. Brilliant. Now I’ve got the image of Toto Wolf looking dejected, stood next to the car with a broken chainsaw in his hand.

      2. Tests show that it would take two seconds to cut the front pillar, and five seconds apiece to cut the rear-left and rear-right supports.

        1. That’s with a special tool specifically designed for cutting the Halo isn’t it?

          I think an actual chainsaw would just break the chain.

    7. Who was it that designed the halo anyway?
      How about they forget about trying to reinforce the car and instead reinforce the helmets until they are huge bobblehead versions.
      It would help the viewers identify drivers, and might appeal to young MarioKart fans. Maybe an idea for Formula E?

      1. Who was it that designed the halo anyway?

        I believe that the original concept actually came from Mercedes.

        https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/technical/2015/8/video—mercedes-cockpit-protection-concept.html

      2. The helmet could be 100% impenetrable, but it’s still mounted to a squishy bendy neck which collapses when big things hit it.

    8. The minute they can guarantee the canopy can offer the same or greater safety than the Halo I’m all for it.

    9. Before the season I thought the halo looked dreadful. By the end of qualifying in Australia I stopped noticing it, and after Charles Leclerc’s near miss I felt guilty that I had ever opposed it.

    10. I’m like most other comments. I have to admit I don’t care anymore. My young sons believe these are beautiful cars, as for me i can hardly see the halo anymore. I’m actually wondering how on earth I got so worked up on the halo in the first place. It makes F1 safer and is part of the cars. It’s fine.

      1. I brought my son’s point of view because the elder included a halo when he did a clay F1. Made me chuckle.

      2. @tango – very interesting comment, and shows just how influenced we long-time fans are by preconceived notions :-)

    11. If you call the Halo what it really is, “A Front Roll Hoop” then the windscreen, as currently envisioned, will never pass muster. It can do different things, but the structural aspect is lacking.
      As for all the gizmos and fairings on the front roll hoop, the team generally recognized as one of the best at the aero-game, that being Red Bull, didn’t have anything attached to their halo. Makes you wonder what the other guys have been smoking.

    12. There is no comparison between the screen Ferrari tested and the IndyCar prototype. The material that IndyCar is using is much thicker, stronger and clearer… Saying the screen would be only 10% as effective is just a wild guess and completely false. Showing some side by side pictures of the two would make this conclusion obvious. It’s good that IndyCar is going a different direction.

      1. Could you share your test data that you used to come to that conclusion please, I can’t find it anywhere available to the public.

        1. Whiting is saying the IndyCar windscreen would be only 10% as effective as the halo in a crash like Leclerc’s. He’s not comparing the Ferrari windscreen to the IndyCar one.

          My understanding is that F1 is not looking at a windscreen because they are not concerned with small debris coming straight at drivers heads but rather large debris such as tires coming down from above onto drivers heads. Or in Leclerc’s case, another car coming down on his head.

          1. You mean like a Front Roll Bar or Hoop.?
            Indy Car will do fine with the screen until someone parks one car on top of another.
            Then it will be Halo Time.

    13. I got used to the halo quite quickly. Sure, it is not the prettiest thing in the world but it’s only been one year. I am sure there will be other versions in the future. I don’t think much of Toto’s fully enclosed cockpit idea…it would end up like a sports car.

      1. I got used to the halo quite quickly.

        Yeah, same here. So much that it went a little beyond – when I see footage of earlier races, I find the drivers kind of naked/exposed without a halo.

        1. Not the same here. Halo still looks like the awkward appendage it is.

          While I appreciate the safety aspects of the Todt Thong, it is still visually jarring as it is thrust into view. However, it does compliment the single seat stretch-limo aesthetic that the addicted-to-aero F1 is going for.

          Since the bulk and girth of the new heavyweight F1 cars are close to enclosed LMP cars, I wouldn’t mind if they gave up the pretense of open-wheeled racing. Just make F1 the ‘Sprint’ version of WEC.

    14. Funny y’all have gotten used to it, I still notice it and it looks ugly. But I’ve been in favor of it any way. As we saw at Spa, it’s worth it. A wing to the visor would be horrific.

    15. Could they make the halo transparent?

    16. My objection of the Halo is not the function but the central bar of the Halo (also watching Nico tumbling escape room) That central bar should replaced with a fighter cockpit windscreen and a kind of front rolbar strenghting it. Yes like the old cars but bigger.

      1. And what keeps the windscreen clean between pit stops?

      2. The central bar is fundamental to the strength of the hoop.

    17. Honestly i couldnt get used to in the entire season, i despice it. The FIA came quickly with leclerc crash report just to shut the mouths speaking of the hazard in the hulkenberg crash. It could have been 100000 times worse than leclerc… but hey the sheeps needed a reason and now they have it.

      1. You do realise Hulkenburg elected to stay in the car? He then consulted with the course medic and they followed the pre-developed process of turning the car over first as it was unnecessary for him to get out once the fire was under control.
        Yes the smoke made it look more dramatic but the marshals were there very quickly with extinguishers, the audio we heard was not live with the images.

    18. IndyCar worked with an aerospace company to develop a clear, solid, distortion-free screen.

      F1 bent a slab of lexan into a windscreen, and was amazed that it had distortions.

      The IndyCar screen is about 3-4 times the thickness of the F1 “tests”, and demonstrates the FIA was never really serious about the concept.

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