Alonso involved in scary Turn 1 crash at Belgian Grand Prix

Sauber's Leclerc was also fortunate to emerge from the carnage without injury

Sauber's Leclerc was also fortunate to emerge from the carnage without injury

But for the first time since its introduction earlier this year, the halo has done its job - in dramatic circumstances at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix.

Formula One breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday after the sport's new "halo" head protection device saved Charles Leclerc from what might have been a potentially serious impact.

Miraculously, all three men walked away completely unscathed. I am happy it was there, ' said 20-year-old Leclerc. It could have been very nasty.

The stewards investigated the incident after the race and opted to give Hulkenberg a 10-place grid penalty for the Italian Grand Prix next weekend, as well as three penalty points.

Hulkenberg missed his braking point and rammed the Spaniard, whose airborne vehicle skimmed the halo-fitted cockpit of Leclerc's Sauber. "It was lucky", said Leclerc, whose family have close ties with that of the late French driver Jules Bianchi who died of head injuries in 2015. "You think they would be at a higher level to drive in this series".

"Definitely, the halo probably helped today", Leclerc told the media when asked about the crash, while Fernando Alonso called the incident "good proof" of the efficacy of the system, going on to compare the crash to the 2012 first-lap incident at Spa caused by Romain Grosjean.

"Everyone was quite anxious", the Monegasque said.

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'I don't know how it would have ended up without it.

"She was then calm when I later spoke to her on the phone". "It all happened very quickly".

"I felt the impact and looking at the image of my vehicle it is quite spectacular". Following back-to-back victories for Hamilton before the summer break, the German needed to stop the rot in the first race after the summer break.

In their report, the race stewards said: "The driver of auto 27 stated that he completely misjudged the situation and freely admitted it was his mistake".

"I think on the positive side we are all fine - especially Charles, because I flew over his vehicle".

Hamilton held off Vettel at La Source but then he was unable to stop the Ferrari auto from sailing past him on the ensuing Kemmel Straight. He held off Hamilton again when the race resumed following the safety auto, and then cruised to the chequered flag.

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