Hamilton and Verstappen collided while battling for position at the first chicane midway through the Italian Grand Prix, forcing both drivers to retire from the race.
The accident saw Verstappen’s Red Bull car end up on top of Hamilton’s Mercedes, with the slow-motion replays showing one of Verstappen’s wheels making contact with the top of Hamilton’s helmet. The majority of the impact was buffeted by the halo on Hamilton’s car.
Hamilton said after the race that his neck was “a bit sore” as a result of the crash, for which Verstappen was assigned the blame by the stewards.
The Dutchman will take a three-place grid drop for the Russian Grand Prix, and was also given two penalty points on his license.
Asked if the halo had saved Hamilton’s life at Monza, Mercedes F1 boss Wolff said: “Halo definitely saved Lewis’s life today.
“It would have been a horrible accident, that I don’t even want to think about, if we wouldn’t have had the halo.”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, walks away from his car after crashing out with Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
The collision marked the second major accident between Hamilton and Verstappen this season following their clash on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix back in July.
Speaking before the stewards’ verdict was announced, Wolff called the move by Verstappen a “tactical foul” after the race, but did recognise his own bias in judging the situation and said that the stewards’ decision would have to be respected.
Wolff added that the battle between the two drivers – who are separated by just five points at the top of the championship – was “fierce” and “intense”, but that they had to find a way to race each other cleanly.
“They need to find a way of how to race each other,” Wolff said.
“Either leave room in every direction, [or] there will be accidents, if it’s not clear – and it’s never clear cut actually.
“Like the Silverstone verdict was predominantly [to blame]. But they know in the car what they are doing and how they are racing each other.
“We should be watching with interest and hopefully not have eight accidents in the next eight remaining races.”
Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG
Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
Wolff felt it was important that the decision from the stewards clamped down on so-called ‘tactical fouls’ and would serve as a precedent that would prevent future clashes.
“We don’t want to have situations in the future where one loses the position, and the only way of stopping the race or stopping the other one scoring is just by taking him out,” he said.
“Both of them need to leave space for each other, race each other hard, but avoid accidents.
“Because it was good fun until now, but we have seen a halo that saved Lewis’s life today, and Max had this heavy impact in Silverstone.
“We don’t want to come to a situation to intervene when somebody gets really hurt.”