Halo not a concern for Alonso crash – Button

2016 Australian Grand Prix

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Jenson Button says Fernando Alonso’s crash during the Australian Grand Prix would not have been a greater cause for concern if cars were fitted with a Halo device.

Alonso’s heavily damaged car came to a rest on its side next to a barrier. Though he was able to climb out, this might be more difficult in a similar accident involving a car with a Halo.

However Button pointed out “there was no need for him to get out in that situation”.

Raikkonen tested the Halo device
“There’s more safety risk of things hitting our head than anything happening when the car’s upside-down,” Button told reporters after the race. “It’s very unusual there’ll be an issue with fuel spillage or anything like that because you have the safety cell and the way the fuel tanks are, it won’t happen.”

“Better to have the Halo system, they would tip the car over to get him out, of course, takes a bit longer, but he was OK so it doesn’t matter.”

Kimi Raikkonen, who tested the Halo device earlier this month, experienced a small airbox fire when he retired his Ferrari during the race. He did not believe the Halo would present a problem in this scenario.

“It makes no difference, we can still get out of the car,” he said. “It was a small fire, things happen sometimes.”

Button said Alonso’s crash was a reminder of the dangers of Formula One.

“I didn’t see the incident, I saw the red flag and the team said both drivers are OK,” he said. “And I thought it was strange to have a red flag and I saw Fernando walking away.”

“And then I saw the incident. I’m amazed that he did walk away, I think it proves how far we’ve come with the cars in terms of safety.”

“As it proved there’s still a lot of possible danger, especially in a braking zone it’s always the worst because the closing speed if one car’s braking and the other isn’t is massive and that looked like what happened. A slight misjudgement by one of the drivers, tyres touch and it just becomes a bullet then when the suspension’s not on the car any more.”

2016 Australian Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
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    54 comments on “Halo not a concern for Alonso crash – Button”

    1. What if fire broke out like in Kimi’s case and the car was upside down?

      Halo is a system with positives and negatives which means its not perfect and we don’t need such half baked system operating in F1 which may save lives in a scenario and compromise lives in another.

      Better helmets, HANS and drivers suits please. Keep it simple and safe.

      1. @illusive they’d use the extinguishers like they did in the pitlane and then continue trying to get the driver out of the car. The driver would be full of fire-extinguishing foam in his overalls, and it’d be a mess, but he’d be fine :P

        1. @fer-no65 that was in pitlane, somewhere else it takes time for the marshals to reach the spot. In Alonso’s case he wouldn’t have been able to get out of his car if was on fire at the same spot today adding more trauma to the experience.

          1. RaceProUK (@)
            20th March 2016, 15:51

            Every single marshals’ post has fire extinguishers, and the marshals are trained to take one if they have the slightest suspicion they may need it. Combined with the aerospace-grade fuel cell and the other safety devices, the risk from fire is pretty low, and with at least one extinguisher at the scene within 30 seconds, what fire there may be would be extinguished quickly.

            In short, it’s not as big an issue as you may think.

          2. @illusive I think Button respond partially to the question with fuel location and fire is unlikely to reach the driver in an upside down situation. Yes, the car can probably catch fire but this fire will certainly developed in a way the driver cell wouldn’t be concerned (it’s how I understand it).

            In addition it doesn’t take long for marshals to appear anywhere on the track. I guess that the fire should be quickly managed in such situation. As Button said, on security aspect, Halo can probably do more good than worse.

          3. @illusive if the car is dug in the gravel upside down, like today’s accident, the event of a fire is a tricky situation anyway, Halo or not. Don’t see much difference, if the car was really upside down he’d have struggled to get out by himself.

            Marshalls are quick with the extinguishers anyway. And the driver has fire-proof clothes. And even still, the event of a fire in current F1 is very, very rare!

          4. For me the concern would be the halo breaking and coming in on the driver. Based on the angle of the supports, it looks like if a failure took place it would be in the direction of the driver.

        2. While fire is the most dangerous threat to the life of a trapped driver, fire extinguishant chemicals are toxic when inhaled in high enough concentration. This toxicity can be cardiac (heart) respiratory (lung), metabolic (liver), and neurological (brain). A driver trapped upside down or even sideways against a tire wall is in a relatively confined space breathing in extinguishant in high concentrations, especially if it has saturated his firesuit. This could conceivably permanently disable a driver, ending his career and worse, significantly affecting the quality of his normal life outside a race car. While this may be preferable to being severely burned, it is an issue that must be kept in mind with regard to the halo.

      2. Apex Assassin
        20th March 2016, 18:13


        Who knows what would have happened with a halo device in Alonso’s crash. I specultate it would have dug into the ground and maybe made the wreck even worse. Gravel, hans, and tub saved the time. People need to accept F1 is VERY safe already.

        Loved seeing JB squirm when questioned about it!

    2. You can trust Jenson Button to be the voice of reason. I was expecting him to sigh during that interview.

      1. Apex Assassin
        20th March 2016, 18:15

        I used to agree with that. But now JB is irrelevant and needs to move on; he isn’t going to be in F1 anyway. He hasn’t been the same since he was robbed and Jessica realized he is a scared boy who can’t protect her.

        1. You talk like if you were there with them.

    3. I still don’t like the Halo name, needs to start being called the G-string already.

      1. Oh my! :)

    4. I think F1 escaped something big today with Alonso’s crash. A friend of I and I were freaked when we realised there was another car involved in the crash after we saw Gutierrez in the gravels. When you look at the damage of the car, you couldn’t believe the driver went out uninjured.

      The halo might have change the deal if the McLaren had crashed higher through the fence (remember Wheldon).

      1. I’m so happy Alonso and Gutierrez are OK. At first I didn’t see Alonso and his car at all. But when I saw the car, it was horrible really. I was really anxious for a moment there and thankfully right then I saw Alonso out of his car. I still cannot believe how someone got out of that mess without some serious injury.

    5. This crash showed the Halo is unnecessary. The biggest risk has always been that loose tyres from a crash cross over the track and hit a driver on the head.

      Now that the tyres stay attached even after a crash, this risk doesn’t exist anymore.

      1. bits of suspension, bits of front wing, rear wing, other bodywork still fly about though. they are even more dangerous than tyres in some cases because of how fast theyre going. remember massa 2009?

        1. That was an spring about the same size and weight as a coke can…

          It wasnt really the same thing as a few flakes of broken carbon fibre.

          Plus, there’s no guarantees that a halo would have saved Massa any injury…

          1. Apex Assassin
            20th March 2016, 18:16



        2. https://youtu.be/P7EFP_wr2fo?t=63 this comes to mind, a death can happen from million different possibilities… even with all safety, sudden deceleration at a high speed impact… even though halo could be useful for some scenerios, it shouldnt be rushed for the sake of doing something….

      2. “This crash showed the Halo is unnecessary.”

        You do realize that’s not how you prove something is not necessary…

      3. Paul Ortenburg
        20th March 2016, 12:32

        If you watch the footage you will see a tyre bouncing away it ended up about 20m further into the run off area than Alonso.

      4. But the tyres don’t always stay attached, they should. But sometimes (as happened with this crash) the forces are so strong that no conceivable tether could hold the force.

      5. John Rymie (@)
        20th March 2016, 14:51

        This is another ignorant statement to justify an opinion @paeschli

        Saying things like don’t/won’t scares me when talking about the unknown. How do you become so certain?

        It’s not just the wheel and tyre as a whole that is dangerous…a tyre by itself is dangerous and those come off (one was missing on Guttierrez’s car) and as Mike pointed out, a whole wheel was down the road from Alonso’s car….

        Either watch the race and try and be informed, or keep your blanket statements to yourself.

      6. RaceProUK (@)
        20th March 2016, 15:53

        This crash showed the Halo is unnecessary.

        Never have I seen such wilful ignorance of the facts in the pursuit of a personal agenda.

        1. Apex Assassin
          20th March 2016, 18:18

          And I’ve never seen a single shred of data showing the halo is necessary or ever a viable solution. What injury or death would it have prevent in F1 in the past 25 years?

          1. Wow you’re making all these statements about how unnecessary the Halo device is and you are clearly extremely uneducated about open wheel racing. Here are 4 examples in the last 7 years…you can do your own research for the last 25!
            2009 – Henry Surtees. Hit in the head by a flying wheel. Halo device would have certainly deflected the wheel and stopped that direct hit to the helmet. Jolyon Palmer was actually the car in front of Surtees.
            2009 – Massa. The Halo device may or may not have deflected that spring from hitting him.
            2011 – Dan Wheldon. Killed when his car launched into the catch fence in Las Vegas. He was struck by one of the uprights holding up the fence. The Halo device again may have deflected the direct blow he suffered.
            2015 – Justin Wilson. Killed after suffering a direct blow to the head from the nose cone of another car. Halo device absolutely would have deflected that nose cone from hitting him.
            I had the pleasure of meeting Dan and Justin a couple of times and they were two of the nicest people and racers I ever met.
            I have purposely included series outside of F1 because I personally think the Halo device is more relevant in oval racing where debris can really only come back onto the racing line.

          2. RaceProUK (@)
            21st March 2016, 17:14

            And to add to @eoin16‘s excellent list: the halo could have potentially saved Ayrton Senna, who was killed by debris spearing his helmet.

          3. RaceProUK (@)
            22nd March 2016, 0:27

            And let’s not forget the half-dozen close calls e.g. Alonso at Spa and Raikkonen at the A1 Ring.

    6. I believe Button is wrong here. Had Alonso been knocked unconscious (a very real possibility in a shunt like this) and sustained a wound, it would be much harder to extract him and give immediate medical attention if the halo was mangled over the cockpit.

      My own personal opinion is for a windshield, probably a little further towards the nose than the Red Bull concept, but enough to deflect tyres and debris in ‘most’ cases.

      1. RaceProUK (@)
        20th March 2016, 15:54

        The halo would be built not to deform in that manner

        1. @raceprouk firstly, that would be pretty difficult, but OK let’s assume it’s possible. It would still have obstructed getting to Alonso, even Button said that in that he could have stayed in the car.

          My point is that getting to an unconscious driver is likely to be more difficult, don’t you think? Whether that outweighs the positives is up for debate.

          1. RaceProUK (@)
            21st March 2016, 17:17

            Don’t get me wrong, it will be difficult, but not impossible. Besides, getting to an unconscious driver is already difficult enough when the car is upside down that the addition of a halo wouldn’t actually make much difference; the car will almost certainly have to be righted before the driver can be extracted anyway. The only issue I can think of is fitting a neck brace, but that’s not an unsolvable problem.

        2. The cars are not built to wind up upside down and broken as Alonso’s car was, so just because something is built to do one thing and built NOT to do something else, does not mean either will always be the case.

          To quote someone above (fixed spelling): Never have I seen such willful ignorance of the facts in the pursuit of a personal agenda.

          1. Apex Assassin
            20th March 2016, 18:19

            Wrong. The cars are ABSOLUTELY build to wind upside down and broken. That’s how these drivers walk away from such extreme crashes uninjured or with minor injuries.

            1. Nope. They are built to stay right side up. Nowhere in the design plan is for them to wind up undercarriage facing the sun. That, however, happens and designers have created generally safe vehicles in case that does actually happen.

              I think we both agree people realize these things happen, though I guarantee you the designers don’t sit around saying, “okay, now let’s design this thing to flip!” No. They probably say something like, “okay, now what if it flips or gets airborne?” That’s the difference. The design is not to flip, the design is to be safe in case of it.

      2. In Alonso’s incident, and assuming that he would have been knocked unconcious and sustained a wound, I am not sure they would have tried to extract him under the car in that position anyway. Improper extraction of a driver can cause serious injury on its own, so I am not sure whether they would attempt to extract him with the car like that or slowly bring the cae upright and extract him that way.

        I am no medical expert, but I know driver extraction is quite serious and I wonder whether extracting a driver safely in such a tight situation would have been possible at all.

        1. You’re spot on bud. If a driver is upside-down and unresponsive, the medical crew will right the car and remove the driver while he is still attached and belted into his seat.

        2. Thanks, yes you’re probably right. Good point.

    7. Wonder about the gravel trap. Would tarmac run-off have stopped him flipping over?
      Hard to tell as I haven’t seen it full-speed (thanks to TV’s obsession with showing everything in slow motion) but the tyres seemed to dig in and start it barrel-rolling. Maybe he was better off having all that energy dissipated instead of slamming into a barrier side-on.
      The Melbourne layout’s a bit retro, pretty much unchanged in 20 years which must be unique in F1.

      1. Yes, the problem with gravel traps is that is exactly what happens, something digs in and that creates a rotational movement rather than strictly horizontal movement. Which is even worse for motorbikes where the rider is at the mercy of the forces imposed upon him and not protected. This is why gravel traps are being replaced with tarmac run-off as in Monza. However, for racing purists, the unintended consequence is that drivers include this added safety into their approach to a corner and there is not a penalty for over-driving a corner or being sloppy, since a mistake is not penalized by having the car end up in the barriers and they can drive off and rejoin the race despite their mistake. Corners with tarmac run-off are safer, but they do not require as much courage or precision on the limit, and thus reduce the driving challenge of a track.

      2. Morningview66
        21st March 2016, 10:13

        Honestly I do think the gravel trap did its job of dissipating energy.
        It may or may not have flipped the car (it looked like the wheels were going under and some rotation before the car hit the gravel).
        The second impact into the gravel pretty much stopped the car.
        On Tarmac with out wheels he would have been hard into the barriers.
        It depends what’s favourable.

      3. RaceProUK (@)
        21st March 2016, 17:20

        It would have greatly reduced the likelihood of rolling, though I wouldn’t say it would have eliminated it. As for hitting the barrier, if it was a tarmac runoff, I’d imagine there’d be more cushioning in front of the barrier, maybe like that TecPro stuff they use at the Monaco chicane and in Sochi.

    8. If i’m stuck upside down after a crash, the first thing i want to do is get out ASAP. I don’t want to wait minutes for a crane to tilt me over again.

    9. Where does this sport get such conservative fans? Drivers saying halo is a benefit, yet fans speculating Alonso’s crash would be worse with it. What garbage.

      If anything, had Alonso’s radiator flown out differently or a wheel-tether broken, sending the wheel toward his head, the halo would have been one more way to protect his very vulnerable and most valuable asset.

      F1 does not need this machismo.

      1. Eh? The debate is whether it’s more likely that a Halo like device would have trapped Alonso, and whether that possibility outweighs the positive aspects.

        There is no machismo, I think everyone commenting here so far is thinking what is best safety wise.

      2. Interesting point about the radiator. I was watching the replays and it is very lucky he didn’t get quite serious burns from the oil or water spraying onto him.

    10. This is a perfect example of why we use tarmac runoff instead of gravel.

      Let us not have any more complaints about Tilke car parks on the perimeter of fast corners.

      1. But if it was Tarmac he would have had a very high speed impact sideways which would have almost certainly caused severe injury… Think Perez at Monaco (someone help with year, 2012?) question is which is safer? Barrel rolls can never be good but he walked away unscathed

        1. I disagree. There was plenty of time for the car to slow had there been a tarmac run off. The reason the car went so far to begin with is because it was airborne and had very little resistance.

          1. Hio Raryanto
            21st March 2016, 10:31

            I’m not so sure about that,

            he had no front wheels therefore no front brakes – can’t remember if rears as well – when entering the runoff area, and sliding on tarmac wouldn’t shed much of the speed of – in my opinion even less than a flight over and landing in the gravel trap.

            Look at Sainz’s crash at Sochi last year or Massa-perez @ Canada 2014.

            While sending the car flipping is far from ideal, i think this incident wouldn’t have ended better had there been a tarmac runoff.

        2. RaceProUK (@)
          21st March 2016, 17:21

          Depends on the friction co-efficient of the tarmac; you can make some very high friction stuff (e.g. Paul Ricard)

    11. I am for the halo device, as I was years ago for the HANS. I was also pleased that today’s race was red flagged, allowing the digger to remove both cars safely and for the trackside workers to do their jobs uninpeded.
      The accident reminded me of Jacques Villeneuve’s crash at the same corner fifteen years ago that killed track marshal Graham Beveridge, very very scary. In the wake of Jules Bianchi’s death it is only natural to implement more safety. Nothing is fool proof, the halo would not have saved Jules, but it could save someone in the future. If we don’t do it, and a driver gets killed by a loose tyre for instance, there would be no excuse.

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