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Hamilton says halo saved him in Monza collision

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(Reuters) – Seven times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton said he was grateful to be alive after being hit on the head by title rival Max Verstappen’s car at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The ‘halo’ head protection device took most of the blow as the Red Bull lifted up and landed on Hamilton’s Mercedes at Monza. The Briton said the inside of a rear tyre had hit his helmet. The collision put both out of the race.

Hamilton, 36, said he felt some pain in his neck and would probably need to see a specialist before the next race in Russia on Sept. 26.

“I feel very, very fortunate today thank God for the halo. That did ultimately save me, you know, and saved my neck,” he told reporters.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been hit on the head by a car before, and it’s quite a shock for me. If you’ve seen the image, my head really is quite far forward. 

“I’m so, so grateful that I’m still here. I feel incredibly blessed. I feel like someone was watching over me today.

“I’ve been racing a long time and we are taking risks out there all the time. I guess it’s only when you experience something like that that you get that real shock of how you look at life and realise how fragile we are.”

Stewards summoned both drivers after the race and decided that Verstappen was predominantly to blame, handing the Dutch 23-year-old a three place grid penalty for Sochi. 

Hamilton was pleased the stewards had acted.

“I’m ultimately proud of the stewards. It definitely sets a precedent and I think it’s important for us moving forwards for the safety of the drivers,” he said.

“When you get away with things like that, then it’s easy just to continue to do it.”

Hamilton also said that he had been surprised to see Verstappen get out of his car and “just walk by”.

“Ultimately when we do have incidents the first thing we want to make sure is the guy that we crashed into or collide with is OK,” he said.

Verstappen had criticised Hamilton in July when the pair collided at the British Grand Prix and the champion celebrated his eventual win while the Dutch driver was being checked in hospital.Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Ken Ferris

Reuters

Photo Dutch Formula One driver Max Verstappen (R) of Red Bull Racing collides with British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton (L) of Mercedes-AMG Petronas during the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza race track in Monza, Italy, 12 September 2021. EPA-EFE/MATTEO BAZZI