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What could make Formula 1 even safer

ROy Nissany? Has no scratch. Zhou Guanyu? Is completely intact. After the turbulent weekend, these are the two most important pieces of news from the motorsport world. Things could have turned out differently at Silverstone. But Halo, the titanium protective bar attached to the cockpit, saved two racing drivers from serious injuries, possibly even death.

It was a race Sunday of the kind that happens once every year. Who relentlessly reveal that motorsport is basically breakneck. That, at breathtaking speed, things can inevitably chain together into a catastrophe within fractions of a second. And: that unpopular decisions sometimes save lives.

Halo works great

The images from Silverstone are oppressive. Then, catapulted into the air by a bulging curb, Dennis Hauger’s Formula 2 racing car becomes an unstoppable projectile that hits the racing car of his competitor Roy Nissany at head height – where it is repelled by Halo.

At the start of Formula 1, Zhou Guanyu rolled over in his Alfa Romeo. The Chinese slid headlong down the runway into the gravel bed, was rocked up and carried over the tire stack into the safety fence. Again, Halo works perfectly, the seven kilograms of titanium protect Zhou’s head from direct hits from flying parts and act as an additional roll bar.

Introduction was controversial

Those potentially deadly nightmares were exactly what Halo advocates spearheaded before it became mandatory for the 2018 season. Under the impression of Silverstone, how much the titanium bracket heated people’s minds at the time seems almost awkward. There was a bitter argument.

The racing series, the teams, even the drivers were mostly against Halo at the time. Some attempted aesthetic arguments, others brought forward accident scenarios in which the bracket could have a disadvantageous effect.

Finally, Roy Nissany and Zhou Guanyu can thank Jean Todt. In the summer of 2017, to make Halo possible, as head of the International Automobile Federation FIA, he insisted on his special right to be able to decide alone on safety-related aspects – and pushed through the titanium bracket against a large majority.

So everything ok? no way. The already controversial curbs that catapulted the Formula 2 racing car into the air should be checked. Why did Zhou’s Alfa break the roll bar? How did the bolide get wedged in a small gap between the stack of tires and the safety fence, which made recovery difficult? And the gravel beds! The fact that they promote rollovers is not new. Asphalt run-off areas would be better. No one should pat themselves on the back now. Modern Formula 1 is very safe, yes. But there is still enough to do.

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