Leclerc crash changed Wolff's mind on halo

Friday, 07 december 2018, 10:45 , by Matthew Scott

Toto Wolff says he has altered his opinion on the introduction of the halo safety device into Formula 1 after an FIA investigation strongly suggested it had saved Charles Leclerc from a serious injury in the huge crash at the start of this year's Belgian Grand Prix.

Mercedes' team principal has previously joked of his desire to take a chainsaw to the halo, adding his voice to the many detractors over its aesthetic impact on Formula 1 cars.

However, opinion has shifted significantly after the Spa-Francorchamps weekend, which saw the McLaren of Fernando Alonso skate over the top of Leclerc's car after contact with Nico Hulkenberg on the opening lap.

The FIA's investigation into the incident determined that Leclerc had likely avoided being hit in the head by Alonso's front wing – enough to convince Wolff that the halo belongs in F1.

"Yes, I have changed my mind," Wolff said at the FIA Prize Giving gala.

"I still don't like the aesthetics of it, and I hope we can find a solution in the future that looks good.

"[But] I really like Charles, he's a young, upcoming racer that deserves to be in Formula 1 and I would not have forgiven myself if we would have voted against the halo and it would have failed, and we'd have had a severe incident with a potentially catastrophic outcome.

"So, even though it's aesthetically not what I like it's a super initiative that has shown its merit.

"I'm happy that Jean [Todt, the FIA president] pushed through and they didn't give me a chainsaw at the beginning of the season.

"We need to get the right balance between aesthetics and safety. I personally like the closed canopies like fighter jets.

"Between the teams and the FIA and the commercial rights holder, we just need to work proactively and in a collaborative manner to find solutions that look great and save lives."

MORE: Did Halo delay Hulkenberg's escape after Abu Dhabi crash?
MORE: Halo saved Leclerc from potential injury in Belgium

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Comments (2)

  • Martin Elliott
    No. In fact Le Clercs crash and the other 2 this year just reinforced my opinion. Halo is a device for a specific hazard that has happened once in 20 years. Several other effective mitigation measures have been introduced already. It has introduce other hazards to drivers, increasing risk, addressed by factuous regulation and procedure changes. FIA has not carried out a suitable and sufficient Risk Assessment as requested by the JB Accident Panel Rec 6. I doubt the FIA has such competency in their safety department. In summary Halo is an effective safety device for an extremely rare Hazard which has already been addressed. It has at the same time reduced safety against other Hazards. Its continued roll out is a purely political measure without a proper foundation. NB FIA was presented with an innovation award at the Autosports Awards for the Halo.

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