After the tragic death of Justin Wilson, the Formula One governing body is once again considering a closed cockpit for its race cars. In line with this, Mercedes proposed a halo concept to protect its drivers.
The design of the canopy aims to solve the issues that were raised during the early testing of a closed cockpit idea, namely:
- Debris bouncing the canopy at high speeds could ricochet to other cars, or worse, the spectators.
- Having a canopy would impede immediate access to the driver in the event of an accident.
The halo concept of Mercedes is made to protect the driver as well as reduce the tendency of the bouncing object to further inflict damage to other cars or the audiences. Then it is fitted with a hinged locking mechanism that would allow fast extraction or exit of the driver during accidents.
There is a single, central strut reinforcing the halo. Mercedes claims it only has minimal effect on visibility since it is so thin.
The halo concept for F1, if proven to be effective after a series of testing, would certainly help in the protection of drivers. It would reduce injuries or fatalities caused by objects flying toward the drivers at high-speeds. However, in the early going, drivers might struggle adjusting to the new elements in their line of sight, especially on the vertical pillar in front of them. It could prove to be a distraction to some.