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Cranfield University’s director of motorsport refuted Lewis Hamilton’s claims he was lucky during his crash with Max Verstappen last weekend – as the seven-time world champion was saved by science. The Briton came out of the Monza pit lane and took the inside line, forcing Verstappen wide as he refused to yield.
Verstappen’s Red Bull bounced aggressively off the kerb and landed on top of Hamilton’s Mercedes, with the seven-time world champion saved from a serious injury by the halo.
The 36-year-old was left with a sore neck while Verstappen was awarded a three-place grid penalty ahead of next weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.
After the race, Hamilton revealed he was very grateful to the halo technology that the driver himself had criticised in the past.
“I feel very, very fortunate today – thank God for the Halo,” Hamilton told reporters. “That ultimately saved me, you know, and saved my neck.
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“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 I’m still here. I feel incredibly blessed. I feel like someone was watching over me today.”
However, Dr. Clive Temple, the Motorsport and Automative Programme Director at Cranfield University, simply pointed to the constant innovation to improve driver safety as the reason Hamilton is safe.
The halo passed a number of tests and underwent heavy research at Cranfield before being implemented onto the design of single-seater race cars.
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Temple believes such extensive development is what saved Hamilton rather than a divine intervention.
“Hamilton was not lucky,” Temple told Motorsport.com.
“It is a fact that engineering and science underpin all of this work which ensures drivers are safe. Safety is the primary concern in motorsport.
“The halo was introduced in 2018 and proved its worth in that season when Charles Leclerc, who was then driving for Alfa Romeo, was protected from [Fernando] Alonso’s flying McLaren.
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“We also had the [Romain] Grosjean fireball incident in November 2020 and again the Halo came to the fore there, along with other safety measures such as the deformable nose cone protection, in-helmet safety system and the barrier itself.
“It’s been shown the Halo is now one of the major safety devices that has served all drivers who are racing single-seaters from F1 all the way through to Formula 4.
“As this crash has proven, the Halo is exceptionally strong and is integral to other safety-critical elements within the car.
“Hamilton experiencing Verstappen’s car coming on top is probably around the equivalent of close to a London double-decker bus landing on top of the car.”
Formula 1 returns for the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi on September 26, with Red Bull’s Verstappen holding a slender five-point lead over seven-time world champion Hamilton.
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