The sight of the hefty again tyre of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull Formula One automobile crashing down in the direction of the helmet of Lewis Hamilton on the Italian Grand Prix made for sickening viewing.
The seven-time world champion was beached in his Mercedes, however finally saved by his halo, a cockpit head safety system launched in March 2018.
“Honestly, I really feel very lucky,” mentioned Hamilton. “Thank God for the halo, that finally, I believe, saved me, and saved my neck.
“I don’t suppose I’ve ever been hit on the top by a automobile earlier than and it’s fairly a shock for me, as a result of I don’t know when you’ve seen the picture however my head actually is kind of far ahead.
“And I’ve been racing a protracted, very long time, so I’m so, so grateful that I’m nonetheless right here.”
Verstappen was blamed by the Monza stewards for the dramatic airborne crash with Hamilton.
The Red Bull driver, who leads Hamilton by 5 factors within the Formula One standings however should now serve a three-place grid penalty on the Russian Grand Prix in a fortnight’s time, had tried to muscle previous Hamilton who had simply rejoined the observe after a pit cease on lap 26.
But Verstappen’s automobile, pushed onto the sausage kerb on the Turn One chicane, ended up with its again wheel rolling excessive of his rival’s Mercedes. The halo protected Hamilton’s head.
Mercedes workforce principal Toto Wolff had as soon as threatened to take a chainsaw to the security system if he may, due to its weight.
But he struck a unique tone after watching Hamilton escape unscathed.
“The championship was good enjoyable up till now however we noticed the halo save Lewis’ life immediately. We don’t wish to see somebody severely harm,” Wolff mentioned in Monza.
The halo, a thong-like titanium and carbon fibre construction above the cockpit weighing lower than 10kg and able to resisting two tonnes, was extremely divisive when it was launched.
Team principals, drivers and followers have been break up over whether or not it was the appropriate security resolution when it made its debut forward of the 2018 season opener on the Melbourne Grand Prix.
After years of analysis and improvement, motorsport’s governing physique, the FIA, settled on the halo to guard drivers from flying particles following the deaths of Jules Bianchi, who died 9 months after crashing on the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, and Justin Wilson, who was killed in an IndyCar race within the US the next 12 months.
Motor racing purists have been aghast as a result of they are saying grand prix racing is meant to be an open-cockpit formulation. Other followers moan it’s simply plain ugly and a few drivers have complained it restricts imaginative and prescient.
Hamilton, talking in Melbourne after the halo’s introduction in 2018, mentioned: “We have recognized for a while it was coming and I believe after a couple of races we’ll overlook it’s even there.”
The halo is the newest in a protracted listing of Formula One security measures launched within the wake of Ayrton Senna’s loss of life in 1994.
That 12 months noticed the cockpit lengthened and strengthened and the suspension strengthened. The subsequent season, 1995, introduced greater norms for crash checks.
In 1996, the safety spherical the motive force’s head was strengthened and two years later the wheels have been connected to the automobile by tethers to cease them flying off.
A head and neck help system (HANS), which connected the helmet to the shoulders and is designed to guard the backbone, was launched in 2003.
It was adopted in 2018 by the halo to guard a driver’s head.
French driver Romain Grosjean had a spectacular crash on the Bahrain Formula One race final 12 months, however survived because of what he mentioned was the halo.
“I wasn’t for the halo some years in the past however I believe it’s the best factor we delivered to Formula 1 and with out it I wouldn’t be capable of communicate to you immediately,” Grosjean mentioned on the time.
George Russell, who will be a part of Hamilton at Mercedes subsequent season, additionally credited the halo with saving him from severe damage after he was hit by a bouncing wheel within the Belgian Grand Prix final 12 months.
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