Leclerc relieved as tyre-smudged halo helps prevent injury

Charles Leclerc admitted that a tyre-smudged halo head-protection device on his Formula One car had saved him from serious injury in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.

The Monegasque driver was an innocent victim when Fernando Alonso's McLaren was rammed into an airborne excursion across Leclerc's Sauber car, skimming narrowly over his head.

His halo was left with black smears where Alonso's wheels hit the protection device.

"The halo probably helped today - it is very unfortunate because the potential for this race was big and it was a shame to finish like that.

"Our pace was strong. I don't know if it was caused by a problem for him (Nico Hulkenberg, whose Renault car hit Alonso's car) or a mistake, but, for sure, it was too much."

Hulkenberg admitted his error, braking too late, had caused the crash.

"There was no problem," he said. "It was just a mistake. I am forever finding out how sensitive these cars are.

"I locked up the front wheels and then slid into Fernando. It was a misjudgement on my behalf and I was too slow on the brakes and then I hit him."

The accident created a multiple collision that also involved Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull and Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari.

All five drivers were forced to retire.

Alonso said the accident reminded him of a similarly spectacular crash in 2012 that resulted in a race ban for Romain Grosjean.

"Yet again a very big-time missed braking point - the last time Romain had a race ban," said Alonso. "This time we'll see.

"It's hard to understand how you can miss a braking point by that much. You arrive at a speed where it is impossible to negotiate the corner.

"The positive side is that we all three are ok, including Charles. I flew over his car and the halo was a very good thing to have today.

"I think for him it helped, looking at the replay. I was definitely happier that I had the halo - we don't need to prove that it's a good thing."

Hulkenberg and Alonso were called to see the stewards after the race.