Lewis Hamilton has praised Formula 1’s halo safety device for saving his life in a crash with rival Max Verstappen at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Verstappen’s Red Bull card landed on top of Hamilton’s Mercedes as the pair’s World Championship battle spilled over while cornering at Monza.
Verstappen’s rear right wheel brushed the Briton’s helmet but was prevented from making full contact by the halo, a solid bar protecting a driver’s head that was only introduced in 2018 in response to the death of racer Jules Bianchi.
“I feel very, very fortunate,” said seven-time world champion Hamilton. “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. If you see the image, my head is quite far forward.
“I have been racing for a long, long time and I am so grateful I am still here and feel incredibly blessed that someone was watching over me today.”
Hamilton’s Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said the halo had “definitely saved Lewis’s life”. He added: “It would have been a horrible accident that I don’t even want to think about if we didn’t have the halo.”
Verstappen muttered criticism of Hamilton as he clambered from his car but was found to be at fault and given a three-place grid penalty for the next race in Russia.
Hamilton said he was surprised Verstappen, who leads the championship by five points with eight races left, had not checked on his welfare before walking away.
The halo’s introduction was not without controversy as it partially obscured the traditional open cockpit on F1 cars.
It was credited with saving Sebastian Grosjean from serious injury or death when his car ploughed through trackside barriers at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.