Analysis: 2018 Halo and its performance implications

Right, hello everyone. You may have noticed a few other posts pop up on here lately but this one is by me again. I, like many of you, was not happy at all when the FIA announced that F1 would be adopting the Halo cockpit protection device from 2018 onwards but no doubt I’ll continue watching next year…

I’ve come to accept that the sport continually shoots itself in the foot and decided to do an assessment of how the Halo will impact the cars both visually and from a performance standpoint.

Now, there are a few things you might have missed about the implementation of the device due to the red mist descending. Firstly, the teams can paint the flip flop in whatever colour they like and secondly, and most importantly, they are allowed to wrap it in a 30 mm fairing to tidy up the air around it. Considering that the Halo is in the firing line of freestream flow around the airbox, the structure mostly hinders the intake of clean air, cooling and flow to the rear wing. Other side effects include at least 20 kg extra weight (yes, F1 is getting fatter still) and possibly some disturbances to the air over the sidepod.

The Halo’s basic design will be refined by the FIA between now and the start of 2018. In testing teams have pinned it to the tub in different ways, some slightly better looking than others. Whether every team will have to fix it in the same position remains unknown. The small fairing does however present some opportunities to shape airflow in a more desirable way, although they won’t want too bulk up the tubing much more to reduce blockage and thus decrease drag.

2018 side & plan (halo)

It is for this reason that we could see a minimal approach to the fairing. The tubing’s downward slopes induce some lift, but this could be mitigated slightly by the additional bodywork. Note the higher and wider position of the airbox, similar to that of this year’s Renault, to clear it from disrupted air. I must admit that from the side and plan views of the car it doesn’t look too bad, but when viewed from the front it just looks horrendous.

Halo review

Another possible design for the fairing is to use the sides of the structure as a downwash device over the top of the sidepod, with the two rearward fixings splayed outwards and the bodywork twisted in a similar fashion. Vortexes could roll up along the sides and direct flow towards the top of the diffuser. Again, this depends on where the FIA permit the mounting of the device on the chassis.

While the Halo is in a fairly neutral place from a mechanical perspective (its mass is at the centre of the car, albeit quite high up), it’s in a frustrating position from an aero point of view. The teams and helmet companies have worked extensively on tidying up the air around the headrest in recent years and now they’ll have a new, more complex challenge. I’m not sure how aggressive the teams will get with the fairing’s design – or whether there are any additional regulations surrounding it that further limit their scope – but I can’t see any crazy solutions emerging because it’s in a place where they don’t really want to manipulate the air. Perhaps I’m wrong and some bright spark has already come up with something much better. I hope I am.

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