When teams were polled on whether or not to put the “Halo” safety device on Formula 1 cars in 2017, nine out of ten opposed the idea. The FIA forced it through anyway. Later that season, it seemed to save Charles Leclerc’s life in what was the first of a troubling number of crashes that have seen entire cars fly into the helmet area of another car over the past four seasons. Today, it did the same for the winningest driver in Formula 1 history.
Max Verstappen’s Red Bull struck the airbox on Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes first, but the car came to a rest directly on top of the halo. The system supported the full weight of the right-rear corner of Verstappen’s car for an extended period of time while Hamilton awaited extraction without cracking. In fact, the only visible damage along the support bar was to a blue bodywork element placed above it for aerodynamic purposes.
When asked about the crash, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said that the device “Definitely saved Lewis’s life today.” Given that still photos from the accident show that the support held hundreds of pounds of weight that would have otherwise landed directly on Hamilton’s helmet, it would be hard to disagree. For the full story, check out this article from Road & Track.