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2018 F1

‘Heart-stopping’ intensity tests for F1’s halo ‘pretty scary’ – McLaren

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McLaren concept images by Reddit user u/chickenf00t

McLaren’s chief engineering officer Matt Morris says the intensity testing of the Halo cockpit device led to a few “heart-stopping moments” because of the loads involved.

All F1 teams have found it difficult to ensure that their cars, with the mandatory halo device fitted, are strong enough to survive new FIA crash tests that include one with a vertical load of 116kN.

Last week Mercedes F1 Team Technical Director James Allison, says that – Formula 1’s new head-protection device ‘Halo’ can “take the weight of a London double-decker bus sitting on top”.

This season all Formula 1 cars will be race with Halo device following the FIA ruled it mandatory. It is designed to guard drivers from flying debris and other interruptions.

“It has been a big challenge,” said Morris. “The loads are very, very high. We always knew it was going to be a challenge and we invested some time and money up front to do quite a lot of test pieces.

“Obviously you don’t want to build a complete chassis, but we built various test pieces where we had dummy halos, parts of halos, full halos, and testing how the interfaces would behave.

“We found some issues but we planned early enough so we could react to those issues and catch the main chassis, which we did.

“It was close. I am not saying we breezed through it, and there were quite a few heart-stopping moments when doing the static tests that comes in from an oblique angle – where it takes the weight of a London Bus.

“When you see that test going on it is pretty scary with the amount of load going in there.”
“It will be interesting to see if anyone has any problems,” he added. “It is a pretty tough test so it wouldn’t surprise me if people have issues.

“I hope they don’t because we want everyone in winter testing, but it has been an interesting challenge.”

McLaren’s chief of aerodynamics Peter Prodromou says that teams will likely trial with many designs in the beginning, in search of potential performance gains.

“Aero wise it is certainly not penalty free and I think there is a challenge to either cope with it in the first insistence, let’s call it damage limitation,” Prodromou said.

“Thereafter I think it is about opportunity and exploitation. It does open up some avenues which are possibly interesting to look out. I am sure there will be a variety of different solutions out there but the scope is quite limited to the allowance around the basic shape but there is opportunity there.

“Everyone is going to be faced with how it impacts the flow into the engine and the flow into certain cooling ducts in that area, including ourselves, as well as the flow to the rear wing.

“On the flipside there may be opportunities to tap into which you couldn’t before. The advantage is likely to be short-lived with the rest of the field catching up midway through the season,” he said.

“I’d probably give it half a season and I imagine everyone will have converged, that would be my rough guess.”

McLaren concept images by Reddit user u/chickenf00t

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