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Halo saves the life of a Formula One driver in a terrifying accident

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It was a triumph for security technology.

Alfa Romeo Formula One driver Zhou Guanyu was saved from serious injury thanks to the Halo device protecting the cockpit when his car flipped during the British Grand Prix.

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The Halo was instituted during the 2018 season. It comprises a hoop above the driver’s head and a pole directly in front of it, which is both a support and a means of deflecting debris approaching the car at high speed.

Zhou was entering turn one of the Silverstone circuit at the start of the race when he was hit from behind by Mercedes-Benz driver George Russell, who had made contact with Alpha Tauri driver Pierre Gasly at approximately 140mph

Zhou's Alfa Romeo overturned entering the first corner of the British Grand Prix.

Zhou’s Alfa Romeo overturned entering the first corner of the British Grand Prix.
(Gongora/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Zhou’s Alfa Romeo flipped and overturned and proceeded to skid down the straight and through the gravel trap before hitting the security barrier and flipping it onto the security fence.

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Zhou's car skidded down the road on its top.

Zhou’s car skidded down the road on its top.
(Gongora/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The car then landed on its side between the barrier and the fence, causing the race to be red-flagged and a long delay before Zhou was removed from the car.

Zhou's car got stuck between the security barrier and the security fence.

Zhou’s car got stuck between the security barrier and the security fence.
(Dan Mullan – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Close-up footage of the incident shows how the Halo managed to prevent Zhou’s head from being pressed against the road, despite an apparent failure of the roll-over rim of the car above him, which is meant to be the primary means. protection in a rollover incident.

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The Halo protected Zhou's head despite the apparent failure of the vehicle's roll-over rim.

The Halo protected Zhou’s head despite the apparent failure of the vehicle’s roll-over rim.
(Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images)

In a show of sportsmanship, Russell got out of his car and ran over to Zhou to see if he could help the stewards, later calling it “one of the scariest crashes I’ve ever seen.”

Fellow driver George Russell ran to Zhou's car to see if he could help the stewards.

Fellow driver George Russell ran to Zhou’s car to see if he could help the stewards.
(MATT DUNHAM/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Zhou was taken to the hospital as a precaution, but was surprisingly uninjured in the accident.

He is not the first driver to be saved by the device.

During last season’s Italian Grand Prix, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes-AMG’s Lewis Hamilton were battling for the lead when their cars came into contact and threw Verstappen over Hamilton.

The Halo prevented Hamilton’s head from being crushed by Verstappen’s rear tire as he rolled over the cockpit.

Lewis Hamilton's head was protected by the Halo of his car.

Lewis Hamilton’s head was protected by the Halo of his car.
(ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)

“Thank God for the halo. That finally saved me. And it saved my neck. I think in the actual moment it was a huge blow, but all I could think about was getting back on track,” Hamilton said.

IndyCar added a similar device it calls the Aeroscreen to its cars in 2020, which adds a polycarbonate windshield for extra protection, especially on the high-speed ovals the series runs on.

Callum Illott was protected by the Aeroscreen of his car.

Callum Illott was protected by the Aeroscreen of his car.
(IndyCar)

Its effectiveness was demonstrated in spectacular fashion during practice for this year’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, when Callum Ilott’s car was hit by a suspension rod that had fallen from a car that crashed in front of his.

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Several other top open-cockpit series have also incorporated Halo, including Formula E, Formula 2 and the women’s W-Series.

Russell was not allowed to re-enter the race for the restart because he had gotten out of his car and the car was towed into pit lane. His teammate Lewis Hamilton finished third in the race, behind Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz in first and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in second.

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