- Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen crashed in Italy as their ferocious F1 title battle continues.
- Verstappen’s car mounted Hamilton’s with one of the Dutchman’s wheels hitting the Brit’s head.
- “I don’t think I have ever been hit on the head by a car before,” Hamilton said after the race.
Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton said he felt “very, very fortunate” to still be alive following a heavy crash with title rival Max Verstappen at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The two drivers contesting for the sport’s biggest prize came together for the second time this season and ultimately both were forced to retire early from the race at Monza.
As Hamilton left the pits during the 26th lap of the race, he came out alongside Verstappen and the pair headed into the first corner wheel-to-wheel.
The Dutchman tried to send his car up the inside of Hamilton’s but as he did so, he hit the kerb which caused his car to jolt into the air and set it on a collision course with the Mercedes.
The Red Bull car rode up onto the top of the Mercedes, ripping pieces from both cars, before sliding across the top of Hamilton’s cockpit, touching the Brit’s head in the process.
You can see footage of the incident below:
“I don’t think I have ever been hit on the head by a car before and it is quite a shock for me,” Hamilton said after the race, crediting the “halo” on his car with saving his life.
“Thank God for the halo. That ultimately saved me,” he said, adding that he was “very, very fortunate.”
“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,” he said as reported by the Guardian.
The halo, introduced in 2018, is a curved bar of titanium designed to protect the head of the driver in dangerous situations.
Former F1 driver, Romain Grosjean, initially criticized the safety measure but later said it saved his life after his horror crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix.
On Sunday, the impact pushed both cars off the track and into the gravel trap, beaching them. After the incident, the title rivals were forced to retire just before the halfway point of the race.
Verstappen was handed a three-place grid penalty, which will be served at the Russian Grand Prix on September 26, but tweeted that he felt he had been squeezed out of the corner.
—Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) September 12, 2021
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after the race, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff laid the blame at the feet of Verstappen and described it as a “tactical foul.”
“It was clear to Max in there that it would end up in a crash. I think if we don’t manage this in the right way, it’s going to continue.
“How far can we go? Maybe next we have a high-speed crash and land on each other,” he said.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner rebuked Wolff’s claims and described it as a racing incident.
“I’m disappointed Toto would say it would be a professional foul.
“You can probably argue it from both sides, but if you’re taking the middle ground with it, you’d call it a racing incident,” he told Sky Sports F1.
With both drivers scoring zero points, Verstappen continues to lead the World Drivers Championship, five points ahead of Hamilton.