Lewis Hamilton was able to walk away from a scary crash with title rival Max Verstappen at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Hamilton came out of the pits just ahead of Verstappen as two drivers entered the chicane at the end of the frontstretch. They entered the side corners and after making contact, Verstappen’s car ended over Hamilton.
The driver safety halo, implemented in 2018 to protect drivers from objects flying toward their helmets, saved Hamilton from something serious. Verstappen’s car landed just above Hamilton’s head and it appeared that his right rear tire also touched the top of Hamilton’s helmet, even though most of the weight of Verstappen’s car was held by the halo.
Both Verstappen and Hamilton got out of their cars after the accident and went back to the garage. Thank God. This was such an accident that if it had happened five years ago, it could have been a really big accident.
Title implications of accident and fines for Verstappen
The two drivers should not have been near each other on the track after the pit stop. Hamilton had led the race after Verstappen took the lead before one lap. Verstappen should have rejoined the second track among the drivers standing behind Daniel Ricciardo, and Hamilton – who passed Lando Norris as Verstappen – would have finished third in that group a few seconds earlier.
But Verstappen had a pit stop of 11 seconds, about nine seconds slower than it should have. This put him further back in traffic than he would have liked. Hamilton’s pit stop was 4.2 seconds – almost two seconds longer than it should have. If either of the drivers had a better pit stop, they wouldn’t have been in an accident.
F1 announced after the race that Verstappen would receive a three-spot grid penalty at the Russian Grand Prix in week two. That means if Verstappen qualifies on pole he will be fourth.
The wreck also means that no driver will score points in Sunday’s race. Verstappen will leave Monza with a five-point advantage over Hamilton after scoring two points in Saturday’s sprint qualifying race. Had Hamilton won the race and scored the fastest lap, he could have been out with a three-point lead over Verstappen. Or Verstappen could have extended his lead over Hamilton if he had stayed ahead of the seven-time world champion.
Instead, we got the surprise winner of the Italian Grand Prix for the second consecutive season. Ricciardo initially took the lead of the race and then assumed it after the race resumed following a wreck between Hamilton and Verstappen. He held off his teammate Lando Norris for the race win on the final laps, while Valtteri Bottas finished third after making the final start due to an engine change.