The Halo, or the wish-bone-shaped titanium bar that is now commonplace in Formula Series racing cars and other car racing events.
According to the BBC, the device is once again in the news after it undoubtedly saved the life of Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu at the recently concluded British Grand Prix.
No one in their wildest dreams would have anticipated Zhou Guanyu's fate as they pushed on their accelerators during the first lap of the Formula 1 race at the Silverstone racing circuit. A high-speed collision on the rear wheel caused the Afla Romeo car to flip and slide across the asphalt and then the gravel trap before crossing a tire barrier onto the safety fence.
Later, the driver took to Twitter to declare that he was okay and credited the Halo for surviving the horrific accident.
Im fine, everything is fine. Halo saved me today. Thanks everybody for your kind words! pic.twitter.com/OylxoJC4M0
What is the F1 Halo game?
The FIA, the governing body of motorsports, has pushed to improve the safety of vehicles following the deaths of drivers after being hit by flying debris from other cars. The Halo was found to be the most effective device in deflecting objects traveling at 150 mph (241 kph) while also not obstructing the driver's view.
The tubing is secured to the car's carbon fiber chassis at three points for maximum rigidity. Although this fixture adds up to 20 pounds (9 kg) to the car's weight, it also gives it the ability to support up to 12 tonnes of weight in the event of an impact.
According to Driving.co.uk, the safety feature was first tested in 2016 and then made mandatory by 2018 for Formula 1 (F1), F2, F3, F4, and Formula E races.
From criticism to support
The Mercedes racing team's implementation drew many criticism, including from Toto Wolff, who stated that he would take a chainsaw to the Halo if he were allowed, while the team driver Lewis Hamilton referred to it as the "worst-looking modification" in the sport's history.
The Halo's complaints included a lack of aesthetic appeal while also affecting the driver's vision. However, as Driving.co.uk explains, the bars are quite thin. The crossbar is at a height that puts it above the driver's peripheral vision when the helmet is worn, while the vertical pillar disappears as the driver is looking ahead.
In 2018 alone, the system proved its worth when it protected then Sauber driver Charles Leclerc from a flying McLaren of Fernando Alonso. Last year, it saved Lewis Hamilton from serious injury as the wheel of the Red Bull racing lifted above the cockpit of the Mercedes, prompting him to tweet this later.
I'm reminded of how fortunate I am on days like today. Someone must have been looking down, watching over me! #TeamLH: I'm so grateful for each and every one of you, you are truly the best. Still we rise! pic.twitter.com/H2sGtXPKrr
Over the years, the FIA has studied over 40 real-life incidents and concluded that the Halo has increased the driver's survival by 17 percent. After Zhou Guanyu's horrific collision, there are unlikely to be any more critics of the Halo.