FIA safety delegate Charlie Whiting insists the Halo did not prevent Nico Hulkenberg getting out of his car following his crash on the opening lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hulkenberg was flipped after contact with Romain Grosjean at Turn 9, with the Renault rolling twice before coming to rest upside down against the barrier. Hulkenberg could not climb out of the car from that position and had to wait for marshals to turn it over before climbing out himself, but Whiting says the Halo was only beneficial in the circumstances.
“I haven’t seen the car so it’s a little difficult to say but quite clearly it’s one of the sort of accidents that Halo was designed to help with, because it provides more space for the driver once the car is upside down,” Whiting said.
“You may have seen some of the tests we did during the prove-out phase of the Halo involved putting the car on its top with a Halo and making sure the driver could actually get out of the car. That was one of the things we wanted to make sure was still possible.”
Whiting says there was no concern that the Halo may have prevented Hulkenberg from extracting himself unaided, saying the safety team will always want to move the car from its position before the driver climbs out.
“We knew he was OK. There’s nothing to worry about there. The routine under those circumstances is to put the car back on its wheels. Once the car was back on its wheels — which has to be done carefully of course — he was able to get out by himself. It was very controlled from what I could see. Our medical delegate was more than happy with the way it was done. It all worked exactly as it should.”
There was also a brief fire that was extinguished by marshals before the car was moved, and Whiting says the driver will only ever be dragged out of an upside down car if there is a specific need, adding he is always aware of any information given from the cockpit.
“I haven’t (spoken to the marshals), but when you have an accident like that, the radio from the car is automatically routed to race control, so that we get immediate information. Drivers normally say ‘I’m fine’ or ‘I’m OK,’ so we get that and we relay that to the doctors who are on the way to the scene so they know that he’s OK. And then they can take their time to get the car righted and just let him get out.”