Roy Nissany’s life was saved by the halo after a crash at Silverstone in the Formula 2 feature race on Sunday morning, and the drivers lives saved by it since it was introduced also includes the likes of Lewis Hamilton.
When the halo cockpit head protection device was being tested in Formula 1 throughout 2016 and 2017, there was vocal opposition to it from drivers, fans and team bosses.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff even said he would like to take a “chainsaw” to it as the fully open-cockpit nature of F1 cars stopped – the most vulnerable and exposed part of a driver – their head – given some protection at last.
It also filtered down to Formula 2 and Formula 3, with IndyCar also adopting the aeroscreen device in 2020.
Since the halo was introduced into F1 in 2018, it has saved the lives of drivers on multiple occasions, including seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.
At Silverstone in 2022, Roy Nissany survived an accident where Dennis Hauger’s car rammed into his – the halo protecting and saving the Israeli driver.
Who are the drivers whose lives have been saved by the halo in F1 and F2?
Drivers lives saved by the halo
Pretty early on in its debut season, the halo saved its first driver – in the 2018 F2 event in Barcelona.
Early in the sprint race, Nirei Fukuzumi and Tadasuke Makino made contact at Turn 4, the former being launched over the top of his Japanese compatriot.
Fukuzumi’s Arden landed on top of Makino’s Russian Time, the brunt of the impact being absorbed by the halo and not Makino’s helmet – as it would have done in 2017.
It was just the fifth grand prix event to feature the halo – and second for F2 – and it had already proved its worth by saving the life of a racing driver.
Later in the 2018 season, the halo came to the aid of Charles Leclerc at the start line-up pile-up in the Belgian Grand Prix.
Nico Hulkenberg misjudged his braking for Turn 1, and drop-kicked the McLaren of Fernando Alonso over the pack.
Alonso landed on top of Leclerc’s Sauber, with the front suspension and wheel deflected and breaking away by the halo.
Leclerc was the first F1 driver whose life was saved by the halo.
Fast forward to the 2019 Italian Grand Prix weekend and a Formula 3 driver’s life was saved by the halo.
Exiting the Parabolica, Alex Peroni was launched by a sausage kerb – flipping out of control and landing upside down on top of the tyre barrier.
Fortunately, the car landed right side up as Peroni escaped with just broken vertebrae in his back.
Grosjean and Hamilton end all doubts
Any and all doubts about the halo and its ability to save the lives of drivers were ended in the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix with Romain Grosjean’s first lap fiery accident.
The Haas driver hit the barriers exiting Turn 3 after contact with Danill Kvyat – with a fire igniting instantly as the car broke in half.
Replays showed that the split – with the survival cell becoming lodged in the barriers. Grosjean spent 28 seconds in the burning wreckage before escaping with burns to his hands.
The barrier showed evidence of being pushed up by the halo as Grosjean’s car made contact with it.
In the days pre-halo, this would have been Grosjean’s helmet which made contact with the armco barrier. This would have led to non-survivable head trauma.
To date, the third and final F1 driver who has been saved by the halo is the most successful driver in the history of the series.
For all Lewis Hamilton’s 103 wins and seven world titles, he is just another driver, facing the same risks as the other 19.
At the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton collided with title rival Max Verstappen for the second time.
Exiting the pit-lane, Hamilton sought to squeeze, fairly, Verstappen, attempting to go up the inside into an ever-closing wedge.
The end result was Verstappen being launched by a sausage kerb, and landing on top of the Mercedes.
Verstappen’s floor and right rear suspension was broken by Hamilton’s halo, saving the Briton from serious injury or death as he ducked down in the cockpit.
Hamilton also tried to continue in the race, but was eventually told by the team to switch it off.
In other news, Why Audio Day is not showing on your Spotify Wrapped