There is no denying that Formula One is one of the most fulfilling sports on the planet. Every other weekend you troop to your favorite Formula One circuit for thrilling action. But have you ever considered the sacrifice these drivers make for you to enjoy every other weekend?
Well, to appreciate how much these fantastic drivers risk, just take a look at some of the most devastating F1 crashes in history:
1. Niki Luda’s Magical Escape Nurburgring 1976
If you love F1, then you know Niki Lauda today, but what you probably didn’t know is how close he came to death at Nurburgring in 1976. The driver lost control of his Ferrari, hit the barriers and spun out of control. The car burst into flames and Niki was badly burnt to a point where a priest was called in to read last rites. Miraculously he survived and in six weeks he was in his Ferrari once more.
2. Ayrton Senna’s Death San Marion 1994
He is credited as one of the best F1 drivers to ever grace a circuit and had expressed concerns over safety at Imola. Senna was leading when he lost control and hit a concrete wall at the Tamburello corner. His massive brain injury was caused by the right tire that came loose on impact piercing into Senna’s visor and causing fatal trauma. To this day, this is regarded as the worst loss in sports history.
3. Robert Kubica, Montreal 2007
At 300kph, Kubica, who was one of the most promising F1 drivers at the time, hit a wall and brought the whole world to a stop. It was a horrific scene reminiscent of Imola 1994. The car rolled back on the track and hit another barrier and everyone expected the worst once more. Luckily, the driver was pronounced stable and recovered.
4. Ronnie Peterson, Monza, 1978
The Super Swede, as Peterson was known, was a two time runners-up and it was obvious he had a great career in F1. The race at the Italian GP started before all the cars were off the grid and an ultimate 8-car crash occurred resulting in a blaze in his Lotus. Peterson was trapped and sustained severe burns and leg injuries. The next day he was pronounced dead due to renal failure. Formula One mourns this great loss to date.
5. Gilles Villeneuve, Belgian GP, 1982
He was the most known face in F1 despite not having won the title. During qualifying for the 1982 GP, Gilles’ clipped the tires of fellow driver Jochen Mass and his Ferrari went flying up. The French-Canadian driver was thrown 50 meters to the safety barrier. Medical personnel arrived promptly, but Gilles succumbed to a neck fracture.
6. Roland Ratzenberger, Imola 1994
Ratzenberger was another casualty in the Black Weekend where Senna lost his life, and Barrichello suffered a nasty accident. During final practice on Saturday, Ratzenberger hit a safety barrier at full speed fracturing his skull.
7. Tom Pryce, South Africa, 1977
Of course the death of Tom Pryce in 1977 deserves mention, especially due to the gruesome footage it led to. He was almost decapitated by his helmet strap and had to be identified by elimination of body parts.
There are many other gruesome accidents, but remember these are not to make you squirmy but to help you appreciate how much these drivers give for you to have fun every weekend.