F1 unites behind divisive Halo after Belgian GP crash
When Fernando Alonso attached the halo emoji to a pre-race tweet on Sunday, little did he know how much it would come to sum up his Belgian Grand Prix.
Alonso did not even make it around the first corner at Spa, after he was shunted from behind by Nico Hulkenberg, sending his McLaren spinning dangerously through the air.
Before coming to rest, the Spaniard's car flew frighteningly close to the cockpit of Charles Leclerc's Sauber, evoking memories of a similar incident in 2012 when Alonso saw Romain Grosjean spin across the front of his Ferrari.
Indeed, the only thing that stood between Leclerc and likely serious injury in this latest incident was his Halo - the cockpit protection device introduced to Formula One for the 2018 season.
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) August 26, 2018
Leclerc's Halo bore the scars of contact from Alonso's car, highlighting just how fortunate the Monegasque driver had been to escape the incident unhurt.
It was a first major real-world test for the Halo - one it passed with flying colours.
— Formula 1 (@F1) August 27, 2018
And the device, which has divided opinion among drivers and team bosses and been the source of much debate until now, appears to be winning new fans in the paddock.
Leclerc himself admitted to having not been in favour of the Halo prior to it coming to his rescue on Sunday.
"I have never been a fan of the Halo, but I have to say that I was very happy to have it over my head today," Leclerc said.
"I felt the impact and, looking at the image of my car, it is quite spectacular. I was lucky."
End of the race in the 1st corner. Frustrating.
Never been a fan of the halo but I have to say that I was very happy to have it over my head today !
: @f1gregoryheirman / @fotoformulak pic.twitter.com/QILqoVtjVh
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) August 26, 2018
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff threatened to take a chainsaw to the Halo before the season started, saying he was "not impressed with the whole thing".
"As you know, I am not a fan of the Halo because I think the aesthetics are terrible," he said on Sunday. "But having saved Charles from harm and injury it makes it all worth it. It could have been very nasty."
Alonso said there was no longer a need to ask whether the Halo was a good thing, while Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe congratulated those behind its development on "a tremendous result" for Leclerc.
And Felipe Massa, who suffered a fractured skull when a loose spring struck his helmet in 2009, succinctly put arguments around the Halo's aesthetic qualities to bed.
"After seeing this, we can say ''The Halo is beautiful!!!", he tweeted.