Formula One’s ‘halo’ device proves worth at Belgian Grand Prix

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Belgian GP crash sparks halo discussion

Alonso's car bounced off Leclerc's halo

CNN  — 

Formula One’s “halo” device has divided opinion since its introduction this season, but the safety cage was Charles Leclerc’s guardian angel in a potentially serious first-corner crash at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The titanium structure built over the cockpit to protect drivers’ heads repelled the flying car of Fernando Alonso after the Spaniard was launched into the air following a shunt from the Renault of Germany’s Nico Hülkenberg.

After the incident, there was substantial visible damage to the Frenchman Leclerc’s halo.

“I saw the replay and how good was the proof for the halo,” said Alonso, who was in the majority of drivers who voted for its introduction.

“We didn’t need any proof but it is a good thing.

“The positive side is we are all three OK, especially Charles. I flew over his car and the halo was a good thing to have today.”

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Ironically Leclerc, who emerged unscathed, has been vocal in his disapproval of its introduction.

“Never been a fan of the halo,” he tweeted after the race, “but I have to say that I was very happy to have it over my head today!”

Speaking to reporters just after the incident, Leclerc said: “If today it has been useful or not, I don’t know. I don’t know what would have happened without it but in some cases it is definitely helpful.”

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Lella Lombardi of Italy, driver of the #208 ShellSPORT Luxembourg Lola T330 Chevrolet V8 during the Daily Mail Race of Champions on 17 March 1974 at the Brands Hatch circuit in Fawkham, Great Britain. (Photo by Tony Duffy/Getty Images)
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Many fans and famous F1 figures have derided the new safety development, mainly taking umbrage with its appearance.

Martin Brundle, who competed in 158 races over a 13-year period from 1984 to 1996, has called the halo “plain ugly,” while three-time champion Niki Lauda said “the halo destroys the DNA of a Formula One car.”

Nico Rosberg, the 2016 world champion, said after the race: “We can end the HALO discussion now. It will save lives!”

Jean Todt, president of motorsport’s governing body the FIA, was one of the leading figures behind the halo’s introduction, tweeting after the incident: “Safety first. That’s why we introduced the halo.”

Former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, who was left with a fractured skull at the Hungarian GP weekend in 2009 after being stuck by debris, said: “After seeing this, we can say ”The Halo is beautiful”!!!”