Lewis Hamilton said the Halo Cockpit Protector was fundamental to saving his life after an accident at the Italian Grand Prix.
The British driver’s car was hit by title rival Max Verstappen with the Dutchman’s Red Bull straddling Hamilton’s head. The world champion criticized Verstappen for not staying to check he was not injured after the incident.
“I feel very, very lucky today,” said Hamilton. “Thank goodness for the halo. It ultimately saved me. And saved my neck. I don’t think I’ve ever been hit in the head by a car before and that’s a shock to me. If you can see the picture, my head is quite far ahead. I’ve been running for a long, long time and I’m so grateful to still be here and feel incredibly blessed that someone is watching over me today.
The Monza race was won by Daniel Ricciardo for McLaren but it was the Rettifilo chicane incident at the end of the starting straight that defined it. The duo had entered both corners together and Verstappen tried to overtake them but ended up rolling onto the sidewalks which knocked him onto Hamilton’s car.
As they slid through the gravel, Verstappen’s right front wheel crashed into Hamilton’s roll bar and descended into the world champion’s cockpit. He hit his head but the halo prevented a major impact. Hamilton said he would likely see a specialist this week for a required exam after a blow to the head.
The halo wasn’t quite well received when it was introduced to F1 in 2018, with criticism saying it was damaging the aesthetics of open-cockpit cars, but it has saved lives on several occasions, most recently. before that at the Bahrain GP in 2020 when Romain Grosjean’s car pierced. the barriers and the halo kept them from hitting his head.
Mercedes team manager Toto Wolff acknowledged how fundamental this has been for Hamilton. “The halo definitely saved Lewis’s life today,” he said. “It would have been a horrible accident that I don’t even want to think about if we hadn’t had the halo. “
Stewards held Verstappen responsible for the crash and gave him a three-grid penalty for the next round in Russia, but Hamilton also stressed that his title rival, who is ahead of him by five points, does not hadn’t controlled it.
Verstappen quickly got out of his car and immediately walked away from the scene. “I saw Max get out of the car and walk by and I found it a bit surprising because when we have incidents the first thing we have to make sure is that the guy we crash into is OK,” Hamilton said.
Former world champion Damon Hill condemned Verstappen’s decision as a deliberate attempt to end Hamilton’s run. “I hate to accuse anyone of doing this, but it seems like it was a calculated decision by Max to get him out,” he said.