Aibel: Halo head protection might have had a major impact on Alonso accident

By Steve Aibel, Senior F1 Writer

The Fernando Alonso accident at the Australian Grand Prix is a reminder of the danger faced by open wheel drivers each time they take to the circuit.

In the case of Alonso, the discussion surrounding the crash centered on whether a Halo system would hinder driver extraction.  This is certainly a valid concern but looking earlier into the sequence of events tells a different story.

In reviewing the accident frame by frame, a loose wheel flew dangerously close to Alonso’s head before the first wall impact.  Fortunately for Alonso, the wheel flew over the McLaren and did not impact the driver.  Had it done so, we might have had a totally different story.

In many cases,  driver protection is needed before the car impacts a wall or permanent structure.  In the case of Justin Wilson and Felipe Masse,  head impact occurred from loose car parts while they were still on track.  Both of these tragedies were freak accidents that might have turned out differently had there been some sort of Head Protection system in place.

There has been tremendous improvement in driver safety and the strength of the McLaren is a tribute to the value that Formula 1 places on safety.  It is also a reminder that research and development into driver head protection is a direction worth pursuing.


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Growing up in a racing family, Steve Aibel was surrounded by Allards, Crosleys and Corvettes! A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Steve was drawn to the automobile magazines strewn throughout the house and Formula 1 in particular. With go karts, motorcycles and vintage race cars in the garage, it was inevitable that the torch would be carried by Steve. Lime Rock Park was his own personal playground while still keeping an eye on the pinnacle of motorsports overseas called Formula 1. Now, in the shadows of Circuit of the Americas, Steve is able to not only follow F1, he makes it the object of this racing stories. This passion for Formula 1 is shared weekly writing original articles for both Tribute Racing and Drafting the Circuits. He also participates in two weekly radio shows. Drafting The Circuits, (, which airs Tuesday evening at 7 pm CST and Formula 1 Racing Plus (, which broadcasts throughout the week on Performance Motorsports Network. Steve's motorsports photography can be found at