Inside Line: Thank you for The Halo Mr Jean Todt

guanyu zhou injured silverstone f1 crash

Former FIA president Jean Todt beat me to it when he Tweeted: “Glad I followed my convictions in imposing the Halo, despite a strong opposition!”

He is right, no one wanted it but he persisted and thanks to him lives were saved at Silverstone this weekend, yet again by The Halo.

He could have waited until today because I am surely not the only one who is going to venerate the fact that Todt was instrumental in fighting for and making The Halo de rigeur in our sport.

Romain Grosjean, an early opponent of the device, survived that fiery Miracle in the Desert, was followed up this weekend’s brutal accidents witnessed live or live on TV.

grosjean crash wreck halo todt thank you

That Guanyu Zhou also survived when his Alfa Romeo went ballistic after a serious punt at the start of the 2022 British Grand Prix and, earlier in the day, Roy Nissany not being decapitated by a wheel during the earlier Formula 2 race, were two miracles packed into a short time.

Miracles in the sense that if Formula 1 is a religion (as it is to me) it makes sense we have our hallmark moments too. Many miracles on race tracks all over the world being part of those, as we saw on Sunday at Silverstone – on the sport’s biggest stage.

More and more so The Halo is the miracle-worker in these do-or-die scenarios that fate throws up on days like these. For that once unsightly life-saving apparatus we have one man to thank. But before I do…

This site has had issues with Todt over the years, he perhaps did a great job for road safety (I do not know as this is not our area of interest) but did less than we expected from him for motorsport and F1 during his long reign as FIA president. Strange because he is a racing man through and through.

Dennis Hauger’s machine landed on top of Roy Nissany in a harrowing first-lap crash

However, today is not about shoving old water up river but rather to thank Todt and commend him for insisting on The Halo becoming law as he did. It was never negotiable once he took the project to heart despite opponents doing all possible to delay the roll-out.

Which they did. Ready for testing in 2017 and implementation in 2017, FIA finally made The Halo mandatory from 2018 onwards. Despite the opposition it needs to be said.

And of course, also deserving of accolades are the FIA technical team under his watch, they got it spot-on with the apparatus that changed the face of open-wheel racing forever, for the good as we have seen so many times since The Halo was introduced.

But it was not so when the gizmo broke cover.

Todt and his team had been developing the concept over time, and once they felt they had the right piece of kit to bolt over the cockpit, which was to create a ‘Stranger Things’ style tri-tentacle monster view from within the cockpit, with an appendage dangling in front of a driver’s nose.

It was ghastly we all gasped, us included; the purists up in arms and literally no-one supporting the idea at all. Dredging old reports reveals tons of trash talking from drivers, pundits experts, fans – the lot. Glad that shut us up. We were so wrong.

The Halo Stranger Things

But at the time Todt remained steadfast, he was adamant and it became clear nothing would stop him in his quest, and thankfully nothing did because if he was sent to this world for anything, saving lives as The Halo did is his greatest offering to life let alone motorsport and F1.

For that tenacity and single-mindedness, Mr Jean Todt aka ‘Mr Halo’ deserves a standing ovation from each and every motorsport fan and of course racing driver, he deserves to take the limelight on this one; in my opinion his single greatest achievement – bigger than his immense career at Ferrari – which no one can take away from him.

In closing, Todt forgot to mention that under his watch safety nets were developed and made mandatory at tracks.

How the Alfa Romeo was caught in the ‘net’ was another miracle, had the fence failed, been more fragile or not there at all, that grandstand in its path might have put Le Mans 1955 to shame. It been horrific.

Again a big thank you to Mr Jean Todt and his FIA team for these and many other under-the-radar safety measures that have made it possible for the motorsport Gods to fling miracles our way on just about every race weekend in any open-wheel series and of course, as we saw on Sunday, at the very highest level.

Zhou: I’m ok, all clear. Halo saved me.
Thanks everyone for your kind messages