Of course there would be a big talk over Halo’s effectiveness and necessity the first time the “cage” had any contact with a foreign object. To be fair, having a McLaren (its front right wheel, to be more exact) landing onto your “cage”, is not about just any foreign object! F1 and journalists immediately put all drivers against the wall asking the persistent question: “did Halo save Charles? Is Halo awesome or what?”. And there was actually not much of an option saying anything other than praise. Ross Brown and Charlie Whiting, on the other hand, kept their cool and promised to investigate the matter a bit further before jumping into triumphant conclusions. Here’s what we think…
Having studied all available camera angles over and over, the facts are:
– Alonso’s McLaren did fly over Leclerc’s Sauber.
– The McLaren’s front right wheel (the tyre) made contact with the Sauber’s right / front right part of the Halo structure.
– The direction of the impact was diagonal on the horizontal plane: from rear right to front left of the Halo. At the moment of impact, there was no significant height drop or rise of the McLaren.
– The McLaren front right suspension broke at the impact, or was already broken but the impact moved the tyre away from the cockpit.
– The McLaren was traveling at a slightly higher speed than the Sauber at the moment and the Sauber kept decelerating, as it was still in contact with the track surface.
– The McLaren then cleared the Sauber and landed in front of it (front left).
Based on the above observations, we could conclude that the Halo did not ultimately prevent a major hit on Leclerc’s helmet, because the trajectory of the McLaren was not of such potential. The McLaren’s floor was at an angle and of such length that it would not be possible to enter the critical area of the helmet. The wheel was the only part capable of intruding, but its angle and speed of travel would at worse affect Charle’s hands, if they were extruding over the cockpit with the steering wheel rotated. Yes, there might be a contact with the front top of Leclerc’s helmet. It is possible, but unlikely.
But what’s important here is not whether the Halo actually did the job. It’s that this crash proved exactly why the Halo (or any similar safety device, for that matter) is necessary. It was too close. Whether it was the Halo or not, nobody can guarantee that next time the critical part of the hitting object won’t make it just a few inches further in. Do we like the Halo? No. Is such a solution or something similar necessary? Yes. Absolutely, yes.