Monza (Italy) (AFP) – Four days after triggering the accident in which a ‘halo’ protected Charles Leclerc from serious injury, Nico Hulkenberg admitted Thursday that he has reconsidered his views on the controversial cockpit safety device.
Speaking at a news conference ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at the world’s fastest Formula One racing circuit, the historic Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the German driver said he retained mixed feelings, but appreciated it was ‘useful.’
A long-time critic of the halo, Hulkenberg said: “I think, whilst I am still not a big fan of the halo and the device, I have to see the facts and admit that it does bring something to F1, especially the safety we appreciate in the car.
“So I have divided, mixed feelings about it still, but it is not down to me anyway and it is what it is. It has proven pretty useful and it a good device.
“We can only speculate on what would have happened without it, but it looks pretty clear from the point that the tyre marks were all over the halo… From that point of view, it has done a very good job to keep the head safe.”
Leclerc, who was unhurt when Hulkenberg rammed into Fernando Alonso’s McLaren and sent it spiralling airborne across the cockpit of his Sauber car – leaving a lurid black smudge of tyre marks on his halo, said he had initially felt most annoyed at being forced into retirement.
“Later, looking back at the images, we cannot know what will have happened without it,” he said. “But, obviously, I was quite happy to have it over my head!
“And it deserves to be in F1 now — whether it looks good or bad… I don’t think that matters any more.”
The Monegasque driver, 20, is the Godson of former Marussia driver Jules Bianchi, who died in 2015 of head injuries sustained in a crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
“For Jules, it would not have changed anything,” said Leclerc. “In some circumstances, it can help. Whether it helped in Spa, or not, I don’t know, but it is a good thing to have.”