“Luckiest Man Alive”
This was the headline that appeared in the Melbourne Herald Sun the next day after two-time world champion Fernando Alonso was saved from a horrific crash during Sunday’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
In an article published in Yahoo sports, The Spaniard had all but praises for the current safety measures in place in Formula One which allowed him to escape unscathed from the crash with Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez. “I’m thankful for the safety of these cars. I’m alive thanks to the job of 10 to 15 years of Formula One,” the McLaren driver said.
With the ease that Alonso was able to get out of his car after the crash, doubts on the safety of the proposed halo device began surfacing. If the said technology was already installed in the cockpit of the car it would have been more difficult for the Spaniard to get out of the McLaren with the halo installed.
The former Ferrari driver is no stranger to accidents. He missed last year’s Australian Grand Prix after suffering a concussion during testing which kept him in the hospital for days.
Former F1 driver Johnny Herbert raised concerns about the advantage of the halo device in ensuring the safety of the drivers. Herbert broke both legs in Formula 300 before driving in Formula 1. He said that this is something that should be thought of for next year.
However, his teammate Jenson Button believed that the halo device would have helped Alonso during the crash. “He was upside down when he landed and if he had the halo it would have helped him. He would have had less impact on his helmet,” Button said.
After clipping the back of Gutierrez’s car at close to 200 mph, Alonso slammed into the wall before barrel-rolling through the air twice. He was given the all clear by the doctors after the race.
In the light of the number of high-profile accidents in Formula One, the latest killing Jules Bianchi, the halo device is being introduced in 2017 as a safety measure. It is designed to protect a driver’s head from flying debris. However, one of its drawbacks is that it could hinder the driver from getting out of the cockpit.