The 2021 Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix did not quite go to the plan for Mercedes. As Lewis Hamilton concluded his race stuck in gravel with a Red Bull tyre on his head, Lewis’ hopes to regain the championship lead were crushed, just like his head would have, if it were not for the halo.
The introduction of the halo in Formula cars was met with some criticism from the fans as well as some drivers, for instance, Max Verstappen. However, the safety device, which consists of a curved bar above the driver’s head has saved another driver from a fatal injury.
Halo’s introduction to the sport was after Jules Bianchi’s death from a racing incident. Lewis Hamilton becomes the third major Formula 1 driver, who avoided a fatal injury due to the introduction of halo.
Charles Leclerc’s head was saved after Fernando Alonso’s airborne McLaren was stopped by his halo. Another injury prevented by the halo was Romain Grosjean’s crash in Bahrain in 2020. The halo stopped the barrier that could have seriously injured the Frenchman.
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Hamilton, the only driver in the top 10 who started on hards decided to pit in Lap 26. As he made his way out of the pits, he found Verstappen trying to unsuccessfully undercut the British driver. As a result, Max decided to go for the overtake in the first turn.
Championship contenders made their way towards Turn 2, Lewis, who was ahead felt that he had the claim to the inside line, leaving a car’s width.
Max also decided to go for the inside line at Turn 2. As a result, the pair made contact and Verstappen was propelled onto Lewis’ Silver Arrows as they both ended up in the gravel.
Verstappen’s right rear tyre hit Lewis Hamilton’s helmet as he was trying to reverse his way out of the situation. Unable to do so, Lewis was stuck in the car as Max sprinted past the two cars in exasperation.
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This would be Lewis Hamilton’s first DNF in 63 races. After the race, Lewis spoke to the media and praised the halo, which saved his neck.’ “Thank God for the halo, that ultimately, I think, saved me, and saved my neck,” said Hamilton.
The incident was to be investigated after the race by the officials. After the investigation, Max Verstappen received a three-place grid penalty for the next Grand Prix. He also received two penalty points for the same.
Both drivers were unable to score any points on Sunday. As a result, Verstappen still remains the championship leader with a five-point lead. He, however, did miss out on valuable points as it could have been an easy win for the team.
The penalty could end up forcing Red Bull’s hand as they will have to take an engine penalty for the season. However, they might end up taking just the three-place pushback for Sochi.