Charles Leclerc says he was lucky to escape injury and grateful for the Halo after Fernando Alonso’s car landed on top of his Sauber at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix.
Nico Hulkenberg misjudged his braking point on the run to the first corner and hit the rear of Alonso’s car, launching the McLaren over Leclerc who had already turned in at La Source. Alonso’s floor and front right wheel made contact with Leclerc’s Halo as it passed over the Sauber and the rookie admits he was glad of the extra protection in the incident.
“I mean I don’t know how it will have ended up without it but looking at it I’m happy it was there,” Leclerc said. “I’ve been lucky on this one. Looking at the Halo it’s not looking good.
“It went all very quick so obviously in the moment you don’t really realize what’s happening. Obviously I knew it was an orange car, I knew Fernando was behind me so guessed it was Fernando passing over me. At first I thought it was, not a mistake, but just Fernando that went into me but looking back at the images I saw it was Nico that hit Fernando.”
Hulkenberg was handed a 10-place grid penalty for the next race for causing the incident, and Leclerc says he doesn’t feel the German’s error warranted a greater punishment.
“Maybe I should speak with Nico at one point just to understand. I’m not angry or anything, people do mistakes, misjudge or have a failure… it happens and it’s like this. I’m not angry or anything; just a shame for us that we had the car to stay on the road.”
Asked if he felt a driver should be banned for such an incident, Leclerc replied: “Well I mean Nico is not a driver that has a [bad reputation] and you can see that it is not deliberate what he did, just a mistake. I don’t think for these mistakes but obviously if something is deliberate and dangerous then a ban shall occur, but not in this situation.”