The halo is a mandatory addition to all cars in 2018, but while basic dimensions and structural integrity are enshrined by the regulations, the teams still have a small amount of development space.
According to many technical directors, incorporating the halo into their 2018 designs has been one of the biggest challenges they’ve ever faced. The main effort has gone into ensuring the titanium structure, which weighs in at around 6-7kg, passes the strict load tests, but the teams have also looked at ways to minimise the impact of the halo from an aerodynamic standpoint – particularly in relation to airflow into the engine air intake above the driver’s head.
Contrary to what its etymology would suggest, the “Halo” is not a halo of light but a robust titanium frame installed above the cockpit to protect the pilot’s head from large moving objects. A vertical pillar located in front of the driver supports the front hoop surrounding the cockpit, itself fixed in two places at the rear of the survival cell.
Specifically, the metal frame is purchased by the teams from one of the three suppliers currently approved by the FIA (German CP Autosport, which supplies nine out of ten teams, the English SSTT and the Italian V System) for an approximate cost of 15,000 euros each.
Integrating the Halo was not easy: the process was more about limiting the disadvantages rather than gaining performance. Regarding the rigidity of the device, the technical regulations imposed new crash tests to ensure the strength of the roll bar.
From an aerodynamic point of view, the turbulence created by the structure can be neutralized thanks to the possibility of installing a fairing and/or vanes around the frame, within a radius of 2 centimetres. The bare arch has undergone a shot blast cleaning to provide an abrasive surface on which the teams install their aerodynamic cladding.
MONO-PLANE AT FERRARI AND WILLIAMS
While some team decided to go for more complex solutions (such Toro Rosso, with three types of appendices being added to the STR13 Halo), at Scuderia Ferrari and Williams, the aerodynamicists were happy to pose just one single deflector, which is proof that the dressing of the Halo is not really a factor of fundamental performance, at least for the moment.
What we can note here is that the Halo is used, exactly in the same specification, in Formula 2 (where the aerodynamic fairing is not allowed, however) and will be on the next Gen2 car of Formula E.
Which solution proves the most effective remains to be seen, but it’s worth remembering that when it comes to this development, we’re in the very early days. And just as the T-wing evolved over last season, expect the halo to go through similar changes.