LEWIS HAMILTON says his car’s ‘halo’ may have saved his life after being hit by Max Verstappen’s tyre during a crash at Monza.
Both drivers walked away unscathed from the incident at the Italian Grand Prix today, with Hamilton avoiding serious injury thanks to his car’s halo safety device.
Hamilton, 36, was fighting Verstappen for track position when the Red Bull collided with the Brit’s Mercedes.
The seven-time world champion was coming out of the pits and into the first chicane with Verstappen in pursuit of his F1 title rival.
The Dutch star, 23, didn’t back down and hit the kerb, flying into Hamilton and ending both of their chances of winning the Italian GP.
Speaking to his team on the radio after the incident, Verstappen said: “That’s what happens when you don’t give space.”
But the title challenger was handed a three-place grid penalty for the next race in Russia after a stewards’ investigation.
Hamilton avoided serious injury largely thanks to his halo – a protective titanium ring around his helmet.
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The Halo was introduced in 2018 to prevent drivers from being hit by flying debris or suffering a severe head trauma.
Hamilton, who later complained of neck pain, admits he was saved by the halo cockpit protection canopy that stopped the full weight of the Red Bull’s rear wheel from striking his head.
The seven-time world champion, who sounded out of sorts after the race, will see a specialist to ensure there is no long term damage.
He said: “Honestly, I feel very very fortunate. Thank God for the halo. That ultimately saved me. And saved my neck.
“I don’t think I have ever been hit on the head by a car before and it is quite a shock for me.
“If you see the image, my head is quite far forward. I have been racing for a long long time and I am so so grateful I am still here.
“I feel incredibly blessed that someone was watching over me today.”
Hamilton was quizzed about watching the incident back and realising just how close he came to suffering a potentially fatal accident.
He added: “His rear wheel landed on my head. The rear wheel landed on the halo and I think the inside of the most cambered part of the inside of the tyre landed on my head.
“I will probably need to see a specialist to make sure I’m good for the next race because it is getting tighter and tighter, but I’ll live.
“But it’s a big shock. I’ve been racing a long time and we are taking risks out there all the time.
“It’s only when you experience something like that that you get that real shock and you look at life and realise how fragile we are.”
Red Bull chief Christian Horner has praised the Halo and is relieved Hamilton didn’t suffer a serious injury at Monza.
He told Sky Sports: “Most important thing today is that the Halo has done it’s job because it’s an awkward accident, thank God no one was hurt.
“To portion the blame [for the crash] to one side or the other, I think for this particular incident that’s very difficult to do.”
After Verstappen insisted he was not to blame for the collision, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff described it as a ‘tactical foul’.
He told Sky Sports: “The stewards will decide who is to blame. In football you would call it a tactical foul. He knew that if Lewis stays ahead, then that is the race win.
“When you look at Turn 4 earlier in the race, [Lewis] backed out of it, but it was clear for Max [before the incident] it would end up in a crash.
“I’m sure the stewards will look at this properly but incidents like this will continue.
“Maybe it will have to be another high speed crash and end up with someone on top of someone’s head again [for things to change].”
Daniel Ricciardo went on to win the Italian GP, with his McLaren team-mate Lando Norris just behind him in second.
It was Ricciardo’s first victory since his triumph at Monaco three years ago and McLaren’s first win in 3,213 DAYS.
Hamilton’s Mercedes partner Valtteri Bottas completed the podium, while the Brit’s future colleague George Russell finished ninth.
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