Fernando Alonso says F1’s ‘halo’ head protection may have saved Charles Leclerc after their huge crash during the first lap of the Belgian Grand Prix. JUANDRE JOUBERT reports.
Alonso landed on top of Leclerc after being launched into the air by Nico Hulkenberg, who missed his braking point at the first corner at Spa.
‘I saw the replay and how good was the proof for the halo,’ Alonso said.
‘We didn’t need any proof but it is a good thing.’
The halo was a controversial introduction to F1 this season, with a significant minority of the drivers feeling it was not needed and many fans objecting to its appearance. There was also a feeling in some quarters that it was diluting F1’s ethos as an open-cockpit formula.
Alonso, who was among the majority of drivers in favour of the halo’s introduction, added: ‘The positive side is we are all three OK, especially Charles. I flew over his car and the halo was a good thing to have today.’
Leclerc posted an image of the accident on Twitter and wrote: ‘Never been a fan of the halo but I have to say that I was very happy to have it over my head today.’
Hulkenberg was handed a 10-place grid penalty for the next race in Italy, as well as three licence penalty points, bringing his total to four of the 12 permitted before a race ban.
Hulkenberg said he was ‘disappointed and frustrated’ with himself for the incident.
He added: ‘I don’t want that for myself, for Fernando, for everyone. It is a shame and very bitter to take that and difficult to swallow and be out in lap one after the summer break.
‘It caught me by surprise. I just misjudged my braking point a little bit and there was no real time to recover it.’
Alonso was involved in a similar accident back in 2012:
Speaking before Hulkenberg’s penalty was announced, Alonso said: ‘That time Romain had a race ban. This time, we’ll see. It is tough to understand how you can miss your braking point so much.
‘It is not a couple of metres, you arrive at a speed that it is impossible to negotiate the corner. So, sad for that but happy that we are all fine.’
The stewards took into account the Grosjean incident but pointed out in their verdict that at the time the penalty point system had not been introduced.
FIA F1 director Charlie Whiting said: ‘I think it would be a little bit speculative to say a serious injury had been avoided, but you can see it doesn’t take much imagination to think that the tyre marks could have actually been on Charles’ head.
‘What is clear is the significant tyre marks on both the tyre and the halo. We take a lot of photographs, and our researchers will be contacting Sauber on Monday morning to make sure we understand, for example, when they take the halo off, to see if the fixings and the bolts that fix it are in good shape, and more importantly to see if it’s been distorted. It’s being held in by the bolts at present, but see if it springs into a different shape.
‘Let’s hope we can try and learn whatever we can from that. Looks like it’s had a fairly hefty whack though.’
— Jean Todt (@JeanTodt) August 26, 2018
— Nico Rosberg (@nico_rosberg) August 26, 2018
— Felipe Massa (@MassaFelipe19) August 26, 2018
End of the race in the 1st corner. Frustrating.
Never been a fan of the halo but I have to say that I was very happy to have it over my head today !
📷: @f1gregoryheirman / @fotoformulak pic.twitter.com/QILqoVtjVh
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) August 26, 2018
It was probably a misjudgement from my side as I was a bit late on the brakes, so it’s frustrating for me, the team, and the other drivers caught up in the incident. We have Monza next weekend, so I want to get this out of the system as soon as possible and focus on that.. 🤨 pic.twitter.com/y0xhD7BOHN
— Nico Hülkenberg (@HulkHulkenberg) August 26, 2018
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