Sebastian Vettel won the Belgian Grand Prix to cut Lewis Hamilton’s world championship lead to 17 points – after a spectacular first-lap crash.

The incident saw Fernando Alonso’s McLaren fly through the air and catch Charles Leclerc’s Sauber before landing as a crumpled wreck at the side of the track.

It is possible that without the introduction of the halo safety device, which protects the driver inside the cockpit, Leclerc would have been seriously injured.

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‘The halo was a very good thing to have today,’ said Alonso. ‘I think it helped Leclerc. It is a good thing. I am definitely happier with it. I am sad to crash but happy we are all fine.’

Alonso went airborne after Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg locked up going into La Source within seconds of the start.
Of Hulkenberg, Alonso said: ‘It is tough to understand how you can miss the braking so much. Last time, Romain (Grosjean in Spa in 2012) had a race ban. This time, we’ll see.

‘You arrive at a speed where it’s impossible to negotiate the corner.’

Alonso and Hulkenberg were summoned to see the stewards after the race to explain the incident.