- Hamilton: ‘I am so so grateful I am still here’
- Verstappen criticised for not checking on Hamilton’s condition
Max Verstappen’s car is on top of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, but Hamilton survived thanks to the halo. Photograph: Dppi/LiveMedia/Shutterstock
The Guardian-Giles Richards at Monza
Lewis Hamilton has said the halo cockpit protection device was fundamental in saving his life after a crash at the Italian Grand Prix.
The British driver’s car was hit by his title rival Max Verstappen with the Dutchman’s Red Bull riding over and into Hamilton’s head. The world champion was critical of Verstappen for failing to stay to check he was unhurt after the incident.
“I feel very, very fortunate today,” Hamilton said. “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 and feel incredibly blessed that someone was watching over me today.”
The race at Monza was won by Daniel Ricciardo for McLaren but it was the incident at the Rettifilo chicane at the end of the start-finish straight which defined it. The pair had entered the two corners together and Verstappen tried to pass but ended up riding the kerbs which pitched him on to Hamilton’s car.
As they slid off into the gravel Verstappen’s right rear wheel crashed across Hamilton roll-hoop and descended on to the world champion’s cockpit. It hit his head but the halo prevented a major impact. Hamilton has said he is likely to see a specialist this week for a check-up required after a blow to the head.
The halo was not entirely well received when introduced to F1 in 2018, with criticism that it detracted from the aesthetics of open cockpit cars, but it has repeatedly saved lives, most recently before this at the Bahrain GP in 2020 when Romain Grosjean’s car speared through the barriers and the halo diverted them from hitting his head.
The Mercedes team principal, Toto Wolff, acknowledged how fundamental it had 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 didn’t have the halo.”
The stewards found Verstappen at fault for the accident and have given him a three-place grid penalty for the next round in Russia but Hamilton also pointedly noted that his title rival, who leads him by five points, had not checked on him.
Verstappen climbed from his car quickly and immediately walked away from the scene. “I did see Max get out of the car and walk by and I felt that a little bit surprising because when we do have incidents, the first thing we have to ensure is the guy we crash into is OK,” Hamilton said.
The former world champion Damon Hill condemned Verstappen’s move as a deliberate attempt to end Hamilton’s race. “I don’t like accusing anyone of doing this, but it looks like it was a calculated decision by Max to take him out,” he said.