HANS or Hybrid: Which FHR device should I choose?
Selecting the right FHR device is extremely important for the safety and comfort of race car drivers. However, with the numerous options, materials, and angles on the market, it can be challenging to make the final decision. Racetech is here to help you find the perfect frontal head restraint for your racing!
What is an FHR device?
A Frontal Head Restraint protects your head and neck from serious injury when having a crash while racing. In a frontal impact, your harness stops your body from moving forward, but without an FHR or HANS device, your head will continue to move forward at a fast rate because it is not restrained, and this is exacerbated by the additional weight of the helmet. This can cause great force on your neck, and the sudden snapping back after stopping can result in a serious injury that may leave you paralysed or be fatal, like a basilar skull fracture. The FHR device slows the movement and minimises the distance that your head and neck travel in case of a crash.
Recently, the requirement for FHRs has increased as the risk of serious head injuries is becoming greater every year with faster drivers and increased technology of race cars. These have been made Mandatory or Recommended for all tarmac and rally events in New Zealand and need to meet an approved FIA or SFI standard for the driver to be compliant. They are beneficial safety equipment that can save lives. At Racetech, we are strong advocates for the use of these devices and have a wide range available for purchase.
HANS or Head and Neck Support is a trademarked name for FHR devices that only certain manufacturers can use. FHR is interchangeably used with HANS and is the most common term for this safety equipment.
All HANS devices are designed to offer the same protection to the head and neck and must be certified to FIA or SFI standards to be used for racing. They come in a range of prices, mainly depending on their design and material used (plastic or carbon). Many racers select their HANS device based on the weight, especially those who are in higher levels of racing, but a few other features should also be examined.
HANS devices come in different angles, which should suit your racing seat and race car. They can range from 10 to 40 degrees, with the smaller angle suited for upright seats and the larger for more reclined driving positions. The device can lightly touch the helmet and the seat but should never push against either, as this can compromise the safety features. At Racetech, we can help you select the ideal HANS device that will work well for your race car and race seat.
HANS devices have a collar that goes over the driver’s shoulder, which, although padded, may prove uncomfortable and distracting for some racers. The Hybrid FHR device offers an alternative FIA approved option for race car drivers.
Hybrid devices are a modern option by Simpson Performance that use a combination of straps around the racer’s body instead of a hard plastic over the shoulder and collarbone. They work the same way by stopping the neck and head from moving forward on impact. The Hybrid device can also protect the drivers from angled-frontal impacts, which makes them an excellent option for racers who may not have as much sideways protection from their race car. It’s always best to have a head restraint seat as well so you get optimal protection.
The most significant benefit of Hybrid devices is their heightened comfort. Many racers report that they find this innovative option more suitable, especially those with more prominent shoulders or previous collarbone injuries. The greater comfort often leads to the driver feeling safer and being able to perform to a higher standard.
All in all, whether you select a HANS or Hybrid device mainly comes down to personal preference. If you are looking for the classic option, the FIA-approved HANS devices will offer you excellent protection and safety. However, if you are finding the traditional FHR device slightly uncomfortable and challenging to get out of, you could go for the Hybrid device that gives you somewhat more freedom but just as much protection.
Racetech has a wide range of FHR devices available for all types of motorsports. Visit us online or in-store to explore our options, and our friendly and knowledgeable team will be happy to offer their advice.