Japanese F2 driver Tadasuke Makino reckons the new 'halo' head protection device, which made its debut in the junior series and Formula One this season, saved his life in a race at the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Honda-backed driver escaped uninjured after the car driven by compatriot Nirei Fukuzumi was launched into the air during the sprint race at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.
The car came down on top of Makino's cockpit, with the left-rear wheel hitting the halo, a titanium ring which shields the driver's head but has been criticized by some on aesthetic grounds.
Makino told motorsport.com he thought the tire would have hit his helmet without the halo and felt the device had saved his life.
FIA race director Charlie Whiting, speaking to reporters after the later Formula One race, agreed the Japanese driver could have been the first beneficiary of the decision to implement the device.
"We will do an incident investigation on that one because judging by the photos we've seen, and the accident itself, it looks very much as if it could have been a lot worse without the halo," he said.
"When you look at the tire marks on the bodywork behind and all the way down the side of the halo, where the tire marks start on the halo is exactly where one of the two test loads is applied.
"Even if it didn't actually save his life, it could have been nasty without the halo."
Reporting by Alan Baldwin