7 times halo saved F1 drivers lives – from Zhou smash to Hamilton tyre horror

When the halo was introduced to Formula One in 2018 it was a highly controversial decision which was met with a largely negative reaction.

The design was slammed by fans, pundits and drivers alike, with traditionalists unhappy with that it spelled an end to the open cockpit. Lewis Hamilton even called it "the worst looking mod in F1 history" – but he and many others might not be alive today without it.

In the years since it has proved to be an invaluable safety measure in all FIA races, with Zhou Guanyu the latest of the following seven drivers to live to see another day because of it.

READ MORE: Fan footage just yards away from shocking upside-down British GP crash emerges

Tadasuke Makino

The benefits of the halo were seen almost instantaneously as it saved Japanese driver Tadasuke Makino from a potentially fatal injury at the third round of the 2018 F2 Championship in Barcelona.

He and fellow countryman Nirei Fukuzumi made contact at turn four, prompting Fukuzumi's car to fly up on top of him where the halo took impact and not his head.

"The first time I tested this car I didn't think the halo was good, because it's difficult to see anything, but today the halo helped me," Makino told Autosport.

"It's really important. I understand how the halo works now. I don't know what happened, but without the halo I think the tyre would have hit my helmet."

Have you changed your mind on the halo? Let us know in the comments section.

Charles Leclerc

Later that year Charles Leclerc, in his rookie F1 season, also ended up with a car on top of his after lights out at the Belgium Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso's McLaren flew over him at turn one, with the front right tyre smashing into the halo on the Alfa Romeo Sauber.

Had it not been there, Leclerc would almost certainly have been killed, and instead all that happened was the paint being scraped off. Alonso said: "It's a good proof. We didn't need any proof but it's a good thing."

Alex Peroni

Former F3 driver Alex Peroni survived one of the scariest crashes in FIA history in 2019 thanks in large part to the halo. The Australian hit a sausage kerb at Parabolica in Monza, which launched his car terrifyingly high into the air.

After several spins it landed upside down on top of the safety barrier before flipping onto the catch fence and coming to a halt. He walked away from the crash but missed the rest of the season with a broken vertebra.

Romain Grosjean

Everyone watching the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix will never be able to forget the horrifying image of Romain Grosjean's car bursting into a fireball after freakishly splitting in two and bursting through the barrier.

The heart-stopping moment thankfully had a happy ending as Grosjean rose out from the flames – but only because of the halo.

"I wasn't for the halo some years ago but I think it's the greatest thing that we brought to Formula 1 and without it I wouldn't be able to speak to you today," he admitted after escaping death.

Lewis Hamilton

As alluded to earlier, Hamilton is one of those who can count their lucky stars the halo was brought in when it was. At last year's Italian Grand Prix he ended up with the rear right of championship rival Max Verstappen's Red Bull driving over it and his helmet, with his head pushed down.

"The halo definitely saved Lewis' life today," Mercedes' team boss Toto Wolff told media afterwards. "It would have been a horrible accident that I don't want to even think about if we wouldn't have had the halo."

Roy Nissany

While Zhou dominated the weekend headlines at the British Grand Prix with his horror crash, F2 driver Roy Nissany had been saved by the halo just 24 hours before.

He ended up with Dennis Hauger's car on top of his after they'd collided at Silverstone. The halo once again did its job and saved another life.

Zhou Guanyu

Contact with George Russell heading down to turn one on Sunday afternoon left Zhou sliding upside down and tumbling over the safety barrier, the like of which had never been seen in F1.

The halo has been credited for preventing the two potentially deadly situations, with the Chinese driver tweeting: “I’m ok, all clear. Halo saved me today.”

While the halo can't bring back the likes of Jules Bianchi, it goes a long way to make sure no one suffers the same fate in their honour.

READ NEXT:

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  • Martin Brundle slaps down Gary Lineker as Match of the Day host backs British GP protesters

  • Terrifying onboard footage shows true horror of Zhou Guanyu's British GP crash

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