Hamilton says halo ‘saved my neck’ in Monza, and gives his take on Verstappen’s penalty
Lewis Hamilton has said he’s “proud” of the stewards for handing Max Verstappen a three-place grid penalty for the upcoming Russian Grand Prix, following the pair’s dramatic crash at the Italian Grand Prix that saw Verstappen’s Red Bull launched over Hamilton’s Mercedes – and praised the halo device for keeping him safe in the accident.
Hamilton had just exited the pits after his stop on Lap 26 of 53 when Verstappen came alongside him and tried to go around the outside of the Mercedes through Turn 1 to then claim the inside into Turn 2, leading to the pair making contact – with Verstappen’s Red Bull then thrown into the air and over the Mercedes, coming to a rest on top of the W12, with images showing Verstappen’s right-rear tyre hitting Hamilton’s helmet.
And speaking to the media after the incident, Hamilton praised the job that the halo had done in protecting him – while revealing that he would seek specialist medical help for pain in his neck as a result of the crash.
“Honestly, I feel very fortunate today,” said Hamilton. “Thank God for the halo, that ultimately, I think, saved me, and saved my neck… I don't think I've ever been hit on the head by a car before and it's quite a shock for me, because I don't know if you've seen the image but my head really is quite far forward. And I've been racing a long, long time, so I'm so, so grateful that I'm still here.
“I think Angela [Cullen, Hamilton’s personal physiotherapist] is going to be travelling me with me these next days, but I probably will need to see a specialist, just to make sure it's good for the next race, because it's getting tighter and tighter… It definitely feels like it's getting a little bit worse, as the adrenaline is [wearing] off, but I'll work with Ang to fix it… I'll live!”
Verstappen would later be handed a three-place grid drop and two penalty points for his part in the accident after being deemed “predominantly to blame” for the crash – with Hamilton hoping the ruling set a precedent for the pair’s future battles on track, after a series of incidents between them this year.
“I think I'm ultimately proud of stewards,” said Hamilton of the ruling. “I need some time to really reflect on it, but I think it definitely sets a precedent, and I think it's important for us moving forwards, for the safety of the drivers, that there are strict rules in place.
“In terms of the actual incident... if you look at the start of the race, it was similar when I tried to go around the outside of Max [at Turn 4 on Lap 1],” added Hamilton, referring to the incident in the video above. “Now, we're both top drivers, well experienced. I know that I can't go around the outside of Max; you've seen it in Imola, he runs you out of road, you've seen it in Turn 4, he runs you out of road.
“So in all instances, I've moved out of the way to avoid incidents and gone over the kerbs. Today, I was ahead in Turn 1, I left enough room, like a car width on the outside going into the corner, but we barrelled at a similar sort of speed into the corner and I was ahead going into 2. And ultimately, he lost control going over the kerb and went into me. So I don't feel at fault, because I got hit from behind.
“Ultimately, there's a point at which you have to concede you're not going to make the corner and you have to go across [the run-off],” he concluded. “Everyone generally has gone across those kerbs, and I'm not sure why Max didn't today.”
With neither driver scoring in the Italian Grand Prix, Verstappen comes away from Monza with a five point lead in the drivers’ standings over Hamilton, with eight rounds still to come this year.