FIA polishes its HALO

The FIA, feeling the pressure of fans, drivers, teams and journalists alike, have taken to the digital airwaves to explain their reasoning for mandating the HALO device for 2018. I’ve been on the road the past few days and haven’t been able to read much of the response and I do know that Will Buxton made a case against the device but unfortunately I have yet to read it.

I did, however, catch a series of tweets that Mark Gallagher had with F1 photographer Darren Heath. I agree with both of them in that it seems the situation is a case of many being dragged along by few. Darren made a particularly poignant statement that I think gets to the core of not only the FIA’s HALO decision but the overwhelming wave of cultural morays we see around the world. Darren said:

“The argument for F1 HALO hang on the guilt of those [who are] against, should a tragedy occur without it. A daft premise. “

It’s a brilliant point and one that, to me, drives much of the current world’s social and political climate these days. In the case of HALO, no one wants to be the person saying “no” to the device should anyone be killed without it affixed to the cars in 2018 and that’s because it has been offered as a complete solution that would prevent death or injury moving forward. The bigger question we should also contemplate, while ripping robes over inaction, is what happens if someone dies or is injured due to the device? Is there any level of guilt to be found there that would have us pause and seek a better solution, accept the risk as is or simply move toward an LMP1 car from Le Mans?

How can a device, unproven, prompt such guilt in those who oppose it as to see them acquiesce simply to assuage the guilt of an unpredictable future event and hypothetical situation? Sure, object have killed drivers, there is not hypothetical case here and I understand how this may have prevented the deaths of Surtees and Wilson.

In the case of Massa, the spring struck the portion of helmet just before the opening for his eyes and had it deviated just slightly lower, Felipe may not be with us today. What if the HALO was that deviation device sending the spring straight through the visor instead just above it? A lot of what-if’s I know but if something like that happened or a driver couldn’t be extricated due to a deformed HALO device, would the proponents feel guilty then?

I don’t have the answer, I’m no engineer, but I suspect Mark and Darren are right, if you want to eliminate the risk of open-wheel racing head injuries, then a complete LMP1 style canopy is the only way and is that what Liberty Media would allow the FIA to do to their sport? To be honest, I am a little surprised they are willing to let the FIA mandate a HALO given the backlash of fan reaction as well as driver reaction.

It’s nice of Alex Wurz to say it is needed and the GPDA accepts the ruling but last I checked, he doesn’t drive in F1.

You can read the full FIA statement here.