25 Deadliest F1 Crashes Caught on Live TV

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Formula 1 has always been a dangerous sport. But, there are times that it is downright chilling to see what kind of turn a race can take from one lap to another. We’ve compiled the deadliest crashes in F1 caught on live television that left the world questioning—how dangerous is too dangerous?

1. Romain Grosjean in Deadly Fireball Crash During the 2018 Bahrain GP

At what was to be his last F1 Grand Prix race, Romain Grosjean crashed into a metal guardrail at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix and upon impact, his car broke into two and turned into an instantaneous inferno. Grosjean was trapped in the fire before emerging from the fireball crash with burns to his hands and other injuries sustained on impact. In the aftermath of his crash, Grosjean recalled the horror of the crash and credited the ‘halo’ for saving his life since it proved instrumental in his escape from the ordeal.

2. Zhou Guanyu Upside Down in Horrifying Crash During the 2022 British GP

At the 2022 British Grand Prix, Mercedes driver George Russell and Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu got involved in a high-speed collision on the opening lap that led the Guanyu’s car to flip upside down while skidding and bouncing across the track and gravel to ultimately end up in the catch fence. Russell, whose car had also run onto gravel by then, ran across the gravel to Guanyu in an attempt to help him while he laid trapped upside down in the fence. Zhou Guanyu credits the halo for saving his life in what was most definitely one of the deadliest crashes in F1 of late.

3. Lewis Hamilton Narrowly Escapes Death During the 2021 Italian GP

During the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, as Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton made his exit from the pit lane to join the race, he found himself next to his title rival for the season, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. At the first chicane, the drivers made contact as Verstappen tried to overtake Hamilton. While both the drivers ended up in the gravel, it was the 7-time world champion who was crushed under Verstappen’s car and later recalled the horror of being trapped under the floor of the Red Bull, with tire marks on his helmet. Lewis Hamilton credited the halo for saving his life.

4. Niki Lauda in the Nürburgring Horror Crash During the 1976 German GP

Driving for Ferrari, Niki Lauda was the fastest driver on track at the time of the German Grand Prix in 1976. Lauda, however, was also the one insisting that the race be boycotted by all drivers due to lack of safety procedures in place at the time but, since most of the drivers voted against his motion, the race went ahead. During the second lap, Niki Lauda’s Ferrari swerved off the track and hit an embarkment. The car instantaneously burst into flames and trapped Lauda inside the wreckage. Arturo Merzario, one of the drivers who arrived the the scene moments later, rescued Niki Lauda by pulling him from his car. Lauda, however, had already suffered severe burns to his head and hands and had inhaled hot toxic gases from the flame that damaged his lungs and blood and put him in a coma. Niki Lauda eventually survived his injuries and continue to compete in Formula 1.

5. Charles Leclerc Under Heavy Impact During the 2018 Belgian GP

At the first corner of the opening lap of the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix, Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg braked too late and made contact with the back of the McLaren of Fernando Alonso. In the confusion of the opening lap, Alonso’s McLaren was launched into the air and landed on Charles Leclerc’s Sauber in front of him. The floor of the McLaren made contact with Leclerc’s halo and saved him from getting crushed under its weight. The monegasque driver later paid tribute to the halo for saving his life in what could have been a life-ending track incident.

6. Jos Verstappen Set Ablaze in Refueling Pitstop During the 1994 German GP

Benetton’s driver Jos Verstappen came in for a typical mid-race refueling pitstop which transformed into what we now remember as one of the most infamous pit lane incidents involving a Formula 1 team. Verstappen halted to a stop in front of his team’s garage and opened his visor to breathe better. Instead, he was suddenly doused with fluid he couldn’t smell. Moments later, a giant inferno breaks out and completely wraps the car with Verstappen trapped inside. The former F1 driver recalls escaping after feeling everything going dark. Jos Verstappen has since stated that he believed the pit lane was the safest place for this incident to have occurred and has had no problem dealing with the aftermath.

7. Romain Grosjean Collides with Lewis Hamilton, Leads to Multi-Car Collision During the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix

At the beginning of the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix, Lotus’s driver Romain Grosjean already had seven race start incidents on his card when he misjudged the distance between his car and Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren causing a collision. But, it didn’t end there. Grosjean’s car then hit the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso and almost crushed his skull on impact. The crash was big enough to take out multiple cars, including Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren and Sergio Perez’s Sauber. While Hamilton refused to comment on the start, Alonso emphasized that no driver crashes on purpose. Romain Grosjean was fined 50,000 euros and handed a one-race ban for the first time since 1994.

8. Jackie Stewart Hangs Upside Down in Fiery Crash During the 1966 Belgian GP

Heavy rainstorm during the 1966 Belgian Grand Prix left more than half the field crashed out by the end of the first lap. But it was Jackie Stewart’s accident that most impacted Formula 1 and its future regulations around the safety of drivers. During the race, Stewart crashed into a telephone pole and was stuck in inside a ditch, with his car upside down and fuel filled up to his waist. Jackie Stewart remained in that ditch for 25 minutes before Graham Hill and Bob Bondurant—drivers who had also crashed nearby due to poor weather conditions—rescued him with a spectator’s toolkit. Unable to seek medical attention immediately, Stewart was flown to the UK to receive urgent care. The crash inspired Jackie Stewart’s lifelong mission to enforce on-track safety procedures for Formula 1 drivers along with pushing for safety changes to the design fabric of F1 cars which included support for the introduction of the ‘halo’ despite initial criticism from the community.

9. Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikonnen Crash During the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix

In a three-way crash at the start of the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen from Red Bull were in the front row positions at the start. However, it was Vettel’s teammate, Kimi Raikonnen, who got away at the lights out faster than the group. As Raikonnen began to get away, his car suffered an impact from Verstappen’s Red Bull. Behind the leading man, Vettel and Verstappen had come into contact with each other which, in turn, had pinched the Red Bull between the two Ferraris. Ultimately, all three drivers had to retire their cars giving Lewis Hamilton the opportunity to further his points lead. The crash in this race cost Vettel and Ferrari the chance to win the 2017 championship.

10. Fernando Alonso Shunts at 46g After Crash with Esteban Gutierrez During the 2016 Australian GP

In a gory crash with Haas’ Esteban Gutierrez, Fernando Alonso’s McLaren rolled over the track, into the gravel and, finally, crashed into a wall in what is considered one of the nastiest crashes in recent F1 history. While it was quite an ordeal to witness for spectators and live audiences across the world, it was much worse for Alonso who experienced 46g force—which is about 3500 kg—in the shunt. While Alonso minimized the injuries he sustained, the Spaniard was forced to sit out of the next race to ensure full recovery. Fernando Alonso maintains that neither he nor Gutierrez were to blame for the crash.

11. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg Crash with Double DNF During the 2016 Spanish GP

In what was later deemed as the beginning of the ‘Silver War’, the infamous rivalry between Mercedes teammates and childhood friends Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, the opening lap of the 2016 Spanish GP saw Rosberg take the lead away from Hamilton who was in the pole position. In an attempt to take back the lead, Hamilton lost control of his car when it slid into the grass, away from the track. Moments later, the car crashed into the back Rosberg’s Mercedes—taking both of them into the gravel and out of the race. A critical moment in the already fractured relationship between the teammates, the crash at Spanish GP led the Mercedes management threaten to sack both drivers if the rivalry continued to manifest in ways that impacted team results. Nico Rosberg subsequently won the 2016 championship and retired while Lewis Hamilton continued racing for Mercedes.

12. Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo in Double DNF During the 2018 Azerbaijan GP

In yet another teammate rivalry, the feud between Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo reached peak tensions when both drivers got involved in a dramatic collision in Baku during the 2018 Azerbaijan GP. While both had banged wheels throughout the race, it was in lap 40 when Verstappen brake tested Ricciardo who couldn’t maneuver out of the way quickly enough to avoid impact. While many held both drivers responsible for the crash at the time, Ricciardo left Red Bull as the team decided to prioritize Verstappen as their number one driver.

13. David Coulthard Loses Control, Leads to 13-Car Collision During the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix

The 1998 Belgian Grand Prix ran under extremely wet conditions under which McLaren’s David Coulthard lost control of his car at the start of the first lap and caused a multi-car collision that involved thirteen drivers on the track. The collision led the race to be stopped but eventually resumed with Coulthard still competing after initially deciding to retire due to the damage to his car. To this day, the 1998 Belgian GP remains controversial for the number of incidents that occurred during the race—including the outburst from Michael Schumacher where he accused Coulthard of trying to kill him. Many still believe that the incident between the two was intentional on Coulthard’s end to help his teammate.

14. Jody Schekter Spins on Track Resulting in a 9-Car Collision During the 1973 British Grand Prix

Now considered only second to the 1998 Belgian GP crash, the nine-car collision during the 1973 British GP happened as a result of Jody Schekter spinning and ending up in the middle of the track. The ensuing multi-car crash took out nine drivers from the race and ended the career of Italian driver Andrea de Adamich, who sustained an irrevocable injury to his ankle. Jody Schekter, at the time, wished to join the race again but was told to “hide away”. The crash remained the biggest of its kind in F1 history until 1998.

15. Ralf Schumacher Late Braking Leads to 8-Car On Track Collision During the 2002 Australian Grand Prix

Starting at the pole position, Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello started the race only to retire at the start of the race after braking too early and colliding with Williams’s Ralf Schumacher. As a result of the collision, Schumacher’s Williams flying over on impact. But that was not all—eight cars were involved in the crash leading them to retire from the race prematurely. The race was ultimately won by Michael Schumacher, Barrichello’s teammate at Ferrari, after retaking the lead from Montoya.

16. Martin Brundle’s Opening Lap Crash Eliminates Multiple Cars During the 1987 Austrian Grand Prix

While the 1987 Austrian Grand Prix was marred with a number of incidents, in the opening moments of the 1987 Austrian Grand Prix, chaos erupted on the track as Martin Brundle’s actions triggered a massive crash. This, in turn, resulted in the elimination of multiple cars from contention. Brundle’s maneuver set off a chain reaction that resulted in several cars being forced out of the race prematurely.

17. Mauricio Gugelmin Loses Control, Leads to Multi-Car Collision During 1989 French Grand Prix

During the 1989 French Grand Prix, a dramatic moment unfolded when Mauricio Gugelmin lost control of his car, sparking a chain reaction that resulted in a multi-car collision. Gugelmin’s loss of control set off a domino effect, involving several cars in the chaos. The incident undoubtedly reshaped the course of the race, causing unexpected setbacks for multiple drivers and teams.

18. George Russell After Hitting the Barriers Mid-Race During the 2024 Australian Grand Prix

In the midst of the 2024 Australian Grand Prix, George Russell encountered a significant setback when he collided with the barriers, disrupting his race. The impact with the barriers not only affected Russell’s own performance but likely also had repercussions for the dynamics of the race as a whole.

19. Lando Norris Crashes Big at 2024 Las Vegas Grand Prix

The 2024 Las Vegas Grand Prix took an unexpected turn for Lando Norris as he encountered a heart-stopping moment—a big crash that shook both him and the spectators. In that split second, adrenaline surged as he fought to regain control, but ultimately, the force of the impact sent his car spinning with a rather haunting radio message from Norris himself during impact. The atmosphere in the pit lane shifted instantly, with teammates and fans holding their breath, hoping for his safety and a chance to salvage the race.

20. Jules Bianchi Suffers 254g Head Impact During the 2014 Suzuka Grand Prix

The 2014 Suzuka Grand Prix turned into a harrowing moment for Jules Bianchi as he endured a 254g impact as his car rammed into the rear of the tractor clearing debris from an earlier crash. For reference, an average human can withstand only up to 4-5g force and anything beyond that is deemed fatal. Jules Bianchi tragically succumbed to his injuries nine months after the crash. The incident left him in a coma with severe traumatic brain injury. Despite the medical efforts and support from the Formula 1 community, Bianchi’s condition remained critical. On July 17, 2015, he passed away—marking one of the darkest days in modern Formula 1 history.

21. Anthoine Hubert Loses His Life in a Multi-Car Collision During the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix

During the 2019 Belgian GP, Anthoine Hubert was involved in a multi-car collision on the second lap of the feature race. The crash occurred at the high-speed Raidillon corner, a notoriously challenging section of the track. During the incident, Hubert’s car was struck from behind by another car at significant speed, causing him to lose control and veer into the barriers. The impact was severe, resulting in a high G-force impact. The crash prompted immediate medical intervention, with trackside medical teams and emergency services responding swiftly. Despite their efforts, Anthoine Hubert tragically succumbed to his injuries.

22. Ayrton Senna Succumbs to His Injuries During the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix

During the San Marino GP, Ayrton Senna’s car veered off the track at high speed and collided with a concrete wall. The impact was devastating, causing fatal head injuries despite the advanced safety measures in place at the time. The exact G-force experienced by Senna during the crash wasn’t officially disclosed, but the severity of the impact was evident in the catastrophic outcome. Senna’s death sent shockwaves through the motorsport world, prompting an immediate reevaluation of safety standards and protocols within Formula 1. His passing led to significant advancements in driver safety, including the introduction of improved crash barriers, cockpit protection, and enhanced helmet designs.

23. Carlos Sainz DNFs After Ferrari Engine Catches Fire Mid-Race During the 2022 Austrian GP

During the 2022 Austrian GP, Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari suffered a dramatic setback when his engine failed, resulting in his car bursting into flames and forcing him to retire from the race. The incident not only halted Sainz’s pursuit of a strong finish but also highlighted the technical challenges faced by team in their pursuit for the championship.

24. Nicholas Latifi Shunts In the Final Lap During the 2021 Abu Dhabi GP

In the closing moments of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Nicholas Latifi endured a challenging turn of events when he shunted in the final lap of the race. But that isn’t all—Nicholas Latifi’s shunt in the final lap of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix had far-reaching implications, altering the course of the entire race and ultimately contributing to accusations of result manipulation. The outcome of the race, including Lewis Hamilton losing the lead and, ultimately, the championship to Max Verstappen, was heavily influenced by the events surrounding Latifi’s shunt. The incident and its aftermath served as a focal point for debate about fairness and integrity in Formula 1.

25. Eric Comas Loses Consciousness on Impact During the 1992 Belgian Grand Prix

During the 1992 Belgian Grand Prix, Eric Comas faced a terrifying moment when he lost consciousness upon impact in a significant crash. As Comas lay unconscious in his car, Senna, who was following closely behind, immediately recognized the seriousness of the situation and ran to his rescue. Comas still had his leg on the throttle, pushed fully as he laid unconscious. Senna’s decisive actions played a crucial role in preventing further harm to Comas.

*This post originally appeared on ReadingRanked*

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