Heading into the first corner on the first lap of this year's Belgian Grand Prix, Nico Hulkenberg missed his braking point, crashing into Fernando Alonso and sending him over the top of Charles Leclerc's Sauber. It was a horrifying sight, arguably the worst crash of the 2018 F1 season, but thankfully, everyone walked away without injury—including Leclerc. A new FIA Global Institute investigation, , concludes that the controversial "halo" head protector played a huge role in allowing Leclerc to emerge uninjured.
We (and many others) initially thought that the halo blocked one of Alonso's wheels from ing Leclerc's helmet. The FIA's report came to a slightly different conclusion, noting that it would have been Alonso's front wing endplate that made first with Leclerc's visor.
As for what would've happened without the halo? "It is difficult to predict the severity of the with any precision," FIA safety director Adam Baker told Motorsport.com.
Alonso's wheel did come in with the halo, striking the device with an estimated force exceeding 13,000 pounds. The FIA requires the halo and its chassis attachment points to withstand up to 25,000 pounds of force. In post-crash analysis, Sauber found that Leclerc's halo was not damaged at all by the impact. If Leclerc were to be hit with that much force, he'd likely sustain a serious head or neck injury, the report concludes.
Watching this crash and its aftermath helped illustrate the effectiveness of the halo, even if it's not the prettiest object on earth. This study should erase any doubts over the need for cockpit protection with open-top race cars—without it, Leclerc might not be driving for Ferrari next year.