Juan Manuel Fangio, Alfa Romeo, Monaco, 1950

Top ten… First lap crashes

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An F1 standing start is one of the great spectacles in sport. But it doesn’t always go according to plan as guest writer Greg Morland explains.

First lap collisions are an occupational hazard for F1 drivers. Keeping a cool head and staying out of trouble during the hustle and bustle of the opening lap is an essential skill that all successful drivers must possess.

When it all goes wrong, it goes wrong in a big way – as you can see in this selection of ten of the most spectacular first lap pile-ups.

In the heat of the moment even the greatest racers have failed to temper ambition with pragmatism, and race after race drivers charge into the first corner with disregard to their cold tyres and brakes. Barely a race goes by without some form of contact between cars on the first tour of the circuit.

Usually, damage sustained in these accidents is minimal – a punctured tyre here, a broken front wing there. But in the very worst cases drivers have lost their lives in a first-lap melee and for obvious reasons those sad tales are not recounted below.

2002 Australian Grand Prix

Eight retirements

The 2002 Formula 1 season began with a bang. Ralf Schumacher, who had started brilliantly from third on the grid, was caught out by the early braking of pole sitter Rubens Barrichello on the approach to turn one and was launched over the Ferrari into the air. Both were out on the spot.

Behind them, chaos broke out. Nick Heidfeld lost control of his Sauber and veered across the grass across the inside of the first corner straight into the middle of the pack.

In the chain reaction that followed, six more drivers were eliminated: Heidfeld, Olivier Panis, Giancarlo Fisichella, Jenson Button, and F1 debutants Felipe Massa and Allan McNish.

The instant elimination of more than a third of the 22 starters led to a fairytale debut for Mark Webber. Racing for perennial backmarkers Minardi he held off a late attack from Mika Salo to secure a famous fifth place in front of his home crowd.

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1998 Belgian Grand Prix

Four retirements

Spa Francorchamps has seen its fair share of accidents since it was created 90 years ago, but few could match the sheer scale of the infamous first lap pile up of 1998.

The race began in the type of biblical deluge which regularly affects the Belgian Grand Prix. But race control called for a normal standing start instead of commencing the race behind the safety car.

Initially, all went well, as all 22 cars negotiated the tight La Source corner successfully. But on the run down the hill towards Eau Rouge, all hell broke loose. David Coulthard’s McLaren snapped sideays into a barrier.

On the narrow track, shrouded by a wall of spray, the consequences were inevitable – all but a lucky handful of drivers behind Coulthard escaped from the clutches of the multicoloured mass of carbon fibre sliding down the hill.

In total 13 drivers were caught up: Coulthard, Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello, Alexander Wurz, Olivier Panis, Jos Verstappen, Johnny Herbert, Jarno Trulli, Shinji Nakano, Ricardo Rosset, Tora Takagi, Pedro Diniz and Mika Salo. But most were able to join in the restarted race.

1980 Monaco Grand Prix

Four retirements

Tyrrell duo Jean-Pierre Jarier and Derek Daly qualified ninth and 12th at Monaco in 1980. Team boss Ken Tyrrell, well aware of Monaco’s perils, warned both to take it easy at the start.

Daly should have paid closer attention to his boss’s words for, as the pack headed towards the first corner, he was caught out by how quickly those in front of him braked.

He piled into Bruno Giacomelli’s Alfa Romeo, flipped through the air, and landed on his team mate, ending both their races. Making matters worse, FIA president Jean-Marie Balestre was standing on the inside of the corner, and launched into a tirade against the driver.

Daly found few comforting words from Tyrrell after he slunk back to the pits, so he began the lonely walk back to his Monaco apartment. He stopped at a Ferrari dealership on the way and bought a Dino 246 to cheer himself up. How F1 is that?

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1950 Monaco Grand Prix

Ten retirements

The Monte Carlo street circuit was the scene of one of the most bizarre pile ups in F1 history. In the 1950 race, which was the second world championship Grand Prix, ten of the 19 starters were eliminated from the race on the opening lap.

What triggered the mass carnage was a wave in the harbour which crashed over the sea wall and flooded the circuit at the Tabac corner. Fortunately, despite the fragile nature of 1950s racing cars, no drivers were injured.

Among the drivers who crashed out were Giuseppe Farina, who went on to become the inaugural world champion. Jose Froilan Gonzalez, the man who scored Ferrari’s F1 victory, was also eliminated.

One of the drivers who escaped was pole-sitter Juan Manuel Fangio, who went on to win the race. He made his way through the melee by leaning out of his car to push the wreckage out of his way

1973 British Grand Prix

Nine retirements

One of the most infamous pile ups in F1 history occurred at Woodcote corner during the 1973 British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

This was before the passage through Woodcote had been slowed by chicanes or Luffield corner. It was a fast and difficult right hander rather than the flat out curve it is today. Running in fourth place at the end of the opening lap was 23 year-old Jody Scheckter, racing in the fourth Grand Prix of his career.

Heading out of Woodcote onto the pit straight, Scheckter put a wheel on the grass and lost control of his McLaren, eventually spinning to a halt some way up the road with his car blocking half of the track. With most of the field behind the incident and approaching the scene at speed, the consequences were inevitable.

Eight further drivers were caught up in the ensuing carnage, one of whom – Italian Andrea de Adamich – suffered a broken ankle. Scheckter himself escaped from the accident unscathed, despite being collected by several cars at high speed.

1989 French Grand Prix

No retirements

The worst crashes at the start are usually caused by someone failing to get on the brakes soon enough for the first corner. At Paul Ricard in 1989 Mauricio Gugelmin took a wild ride through the air after doing just that.

He hit Thierry Boutsen’s Williams, took off, plucked the rear wing from Nigel Mansell’s Ferrari and skidded to a halt in the run-off area.

There were no injuries but, this being before the safety car was widely used, the race was red-flagged. Every driver took the restart including Gugelmin, who set the fastest lap of the race.

But the crash may have had an indirect effect on the world championship. The differential on Ayrton Senna’s McLaren couldn’t cope with a second start and he retired as the cars pulled away from the grid.

1987 Austrian Grand Prix

Two retirements

The 1987 Austrian Grand Prix at the Osterreichring is unusual in that it was restarted twice due to first lap collisions, both partly due to the difficulty of starting a race on the track’s narrow grid.

The first accident occurred on the run up the hill towards the Hella Licht chicane, as Martin Brundle suddenly veered left into the barrier before rebounding back onto the track. Several more cars spun off while attempting to avoid him, blocking the circuit and bringing out the red flags.

The second pile-up was far worse. Starting from second place on the grid, Nigel Mansell crawled off the line, bunching the field behind him on the narrow track. Many drivers were forced to slow dramatically to avoid the stricken Williams, but with some cars arriving at the scene at considerable speed a collision was unavoidable.

Unsighted cars from the back of the grid began to pile into the backlog. Within a matter of seconds of the start, 11 cars were out, and the circuit was blocked again.

The two accidents highlighted the shortcomings of the Osterreichring for F1 cars of the time. The circuit was dropped from the F1 calendar at the end of the season, and it was not until 1997 that Grand Prix racing returned to the circuit, albeit on a shortened and slower layout which also featured a wider pit straight.

1998 Canadian Grand Prix

No retirements

In its 32-year history, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal has developed a reputation for causing chaotic races. The 1998 Grand Prix was no exception. The race saw numerous accidents and overtakes, four safety cars and even a long overdue penalty for reckless driving for Michael Schumacher.

But many fans will remember the race for one thing – the sight of Alexander Wurz barrel-rolling into the gravel trap at the first corner of the race.

The Austrian started well from 11th, but tried too hard to squeeze down the inside of Jean Alesi and ended up on the grass. Their wheels connected and Wurz was flipped upside down, taking Johnny Herbert and Jarno Trulli with him.

Fortunately for these four, the race was red-flagged and all four were able to take the restart in their spare or repaired cars. Incredibly, Wurz, Alesi and Trulli tangled again at the second start.

This time Wurz edged Trulli into the path of Alesi at Turn 2, causing him to park his car on top of the Sauber. Despite all this, Wurz went on to finish an excellent fourth place.

2006 United States Grand Prix

Seven retirements

After the disaster that was the six-car 2005 United States Grand Prix, the onus was on Formula 1 to put on a good show at Indianapolis the following season. The elimination of more than a third of the field in two separate first lap accidents was hardly a ideal start.

At the back of the field, Mark Webber, Franck Montagny and Christian Klien retired after the latter clipped Webber’s rear wheel going into Turn 1. He spun into the path of the oncoming pack and almost tipped Webber’s Williams.

Yet this incident appeared tame in comparison to the shenanigans just up the road at Turn 2, as Juan Pablo Montoya unwittingly set off a devastating chain reaction.

Montoya, racing in what we later learned was his final Grand Prix, ran into the back of his McLaren team mate Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 2. The contact pushed him across the track into the path of Jenson Button, who was then nudged into the side of Nick Heidfeld, flinging the BMW up and into a terrifying barrel roll across the gravel trap.

Fortunately no-one was hurt, and the spectators were at least left with a slightly less depleted field than the one they’d seen the year before.

1994 German Grand Prix

Ten retirements

The first lap madness of 1994 German Grand Prix was just another chapter in a chaotic season. Of the 26 cars which entered the race, ten had fallen by the wayside within seconds of the start.

The first accident began almost immediately after the lights went out. Andrea de Cesaris – living up to his nickname ‘de Crasheris’ – drove straight from his starting position into the path of Alex Zanardi, causing chaos at the back.

Nearer the front David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen made contact sending Hakkinen spearing across the track and into a heavy collision with the tyre wall. Several more drivers collided while trying to avoid the out-of-control McLaren.

The high rate of attrition produced one of the most surprising results of the modern era. Ferrari ended their four year win drought, both Ligiers reached the podium, and Footwork and Larousse scored rare points. For a fleeting few moments Ukyo Katayama even managed to run in second position for Tyrell!

The authorities came down hard on Hakkinen, banning him for one race after the collision. He had already been under a suspended ban following a collision with Barrichello at Silverstone.

Over to you

Which other pile ups have rivalled the ten above? Are there any from other series which deserve a mention? Let us know in the comments.

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110 comments on “Top ten… First lap crashes”

  1. Belgium gp 1998 – Four retirements, race not stopped

    The race was stopped and I am sure there were more than four retierments.

    1. At the restart only 4 drivers couldn’t participate because in some teams, both cars were taken out at the initial start and they only had a spare car for the teams lead driver.

    2. Yes, the race was stopped – you’re right about that (and I’ve changed it) – but there were only four retirements as a consequence of that crash.

      However there was a smaller crash at the second start which eliminated a few more cars including Mika Hakkinen.

      1. Yorricksfriend
        5th August 2010, 13:54

        And Coulthard crashed twice in the race and still finished

        1. He didn’t finish the race – he retired after the crash with Schumacher.

          1. Ned Flanders
            5th August 2010, 14:38

            Actually I think after he was hit by Schumacher his car was repaired and he went back out. There were hardly any cars left by that stage, and McLaren figured he might end up in the points even if he finished last

          2. Robert McKay
            5th August 2010, 15:03

            Coulthard just missed the points, he finished 7th, albeit 5 laps down.

          3. And then the infamous pit-lane bust-up between those 2 ensued..!!

      2. The 1998 Belgium GP pileup is my only F1 memory before school. I was five years old back then and even can remember where I were exactly, and what I was doing, that says a lot given the fact that I can hardly remember anything else specific from that age or even much later age.

        1. I was in boot camp! I went to the 98 canadian race though, and was sitting at that corner and have a photo of him (wurtz)in the air on his side! I just was snapping the button over my head, I didn’t want to miss the action! Plus I’m only 5’5″ on a good day. I also have photos of alesi with the ligier on his airbox. That ligier was beautiful that year.

      3. schumacher and thomas enge on hockenheim was a nice accident and pretty convenient to relive after the german gp

        1. Coulthard also went off into the gravel in the early stages in an unseen altercation with Wurz, but managed to get going again. Not his best weekend!

        2. You mean Schumacher and Luciano Burti?

  2. Rhys is right, I think you got the Monaco part twice.

  3. Great post. I remember Germany 2001 with Burti going airborne.

    Never seen Germany 1994 before. I guess that race is always remembered for Jos’s pit fire.

  4. Melbourne 1996, starring Martin Brundle:

    As he said later (about the state of his car), “they won’t be using that one again”.

    1. Yes, I was going to mention that one.

  5. All good choices, no Nurburgring ’99?

    1. Or even Nurburgring ’97 or Spa ’04? I suppose those would be included in a top 20 list.

      1. Ned Flanders
        5th August 2010, 14:50

        Yes there were plenty other which I’d have included if there was room. Spa 2004 was certainly a contender- a pile up at Eau Rouge is always going to be spectacular!

  6. Great post Ned! On the British GP 1973 clip — it’s weird that around 0.51 secs onwards you can see a driver in a seemingly undamaged car (car 28?) running down to Copse trying to get out of the cockpit…! What on earth was going on there?

    1. a lot of times in those days, if there was a serious crash, it wasn’t uncommon for a driver to stop their car to help their fellow driver to make sure they’re okay.

    2. Car 28 was Ricky Von Opel’s green and yellow Ensign. The car wasn’t damaged and went on to finish the restarted race, albeit 6 laps down.

      In the 1970s races were routinely red flagged rather than continued under caution. Indeed, the safety car’s debut in F1 wasn’t until later that year in Canada when it caused absolute chaos.

      I suspect Von Opel was simply undoing his belts in preparation of stopping and waiting for the restart.

  7. Robert McKay
    5th August 2010, 12:59

    Spa 1998 crash is the daddy. Perhaps you shouldn’t laugh about it, but it’s just the way the Tyrrells, and especially the Minardis, are so late to the party. The crash is just starting to die down and then they plough in and make it even worse.

    Having said that, given the amount of flying debris – tyres in particular – it’s a wonder noone was seriously injure.

    1. Yorricksfriend
      5th August 2010, 14:01

      It was like a ballet almost, I’ve watched that crash so many times, choosing to focus on one particular car each time and how it was involved.
      One part I noticed was near the start of the crash, after Coulthard hit the wall and his nose whacks one of his tyres across the road, which hits a car (a Sauber I think) which looked to have made it through but the impact from the tyre appears to have made him spin

    2. Ned Flanders
      5th August 2010, 14:42

      Haha in my original write up I mentioned how Ricardo Rosset goes piling into the back of the accident at full speed… it was pretty hilarious, although had someone have been seriously injured it certainly wouldn’t have been

      1. i thought it was takagi who was the one still apparently accelerating normally when he first reach the melee. i remember someone (Nigel roebuck?) writing about it in autosport – i probably have the magazine somewhere

  8. The first lap crashes that stand out in my memory are Melbourne 1996 with Brundle crash and the chaos at the start in Belgium 1998.

    Can anybody remember when the last restart was in F1, with increased use of the safety car and the need to not delay the race to keep to international TV schedules, restarts seem to be a thing of the past.

    In the 1990s it seemed that there would usually be at least one restart per season with drivers who had damaged their car running to the pits to get in the spare car, and have it setup for them if it was setup for their teammate at that race.

    It also seems that there are less first lap crashes now, I don’t know if this is actually the case and driving standards have improved or if it just my memory playing tricks on me.

    1. Robert McKay
      5th August 2010, 13:19

      At a guess for “last race red flagged and restarted”…Belgium 2001?

      1. Robert McKay
        5th August 2010, 13:23

        Meaning red flagged after lap 1 and full race restart, not e.g. the red flag suspension of Nurburgring 2007.

    2. No you’re right PJA, I’ve noticed it too. In fact, from 2000-09, there were only 6 red-flag situations in races – compared with 20 from 1990-99!

      There’s a complete list on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_red-flagged_Formula_One_races

  9. if only this happened every race weekend?

    1. So you like seeing half the field race instead of a full grid? each to their own I guess!

      1. It makes it more interesting

  10. Magnificent Geoffrey
    5th August 2010, 13:16

    Ned writing an article about crashing? I’d never have guessed…

    Nice one though, Ned. We could do with a a few thrills and spills during this Summer break!

  11. Unfortunately there has also been Monza ’78.

    1. Ned Flanders
      5th August 2010, 14:47

      I originally planned to include that accident, but we decided it wouldn’t really be appropriate in a ‘top ten’. Here’s what I wrote about it:

      The opening lap collision in the 1978 Italian GP has gone down in infamy as the crash which ultimately led to the death of the great Lotus driver Ronnie Peterson. Both the accident itself and Peterson’s subsequent death were entirely avoidable.

      At the start, a misjudgement by the race director saw the grid lights go out prematurely, as the second half of the grid was still forming. This meant that the cars at the rear of the grid invariably had better starts than the frontrunners, causing the field to bunch up on the run down to the Retifillo. The inevitable disaster occurred when James Hunt and Ricardo Patrese touched wheels; the collision pushed Hunt into the side of Peterson’s Lotus, which in turn slid off into the barriers and burst into flames. Eight further drivers were caught up in the chaos.

      However, the accident alone- horrific though it was- was not actually the cause of Peterson’s death. The Swede suffered two badly broken legs and minor burns in the incident, but there was no apparent risk to his survival. It was to huge surprise, therefore, that Peterson was declared dead the following day; an operation on his injured legs had gone wrong and he had slipped into a coma from which he was unable to recover.

      1. Yes, Ned. Ronnie died for very unlucky surgical complications.

      2. Rick DeNatale
        5th August 2010, 18:09

        I was a bit surprised not to see Monza 1978 here. Quite a tragic start. I wonder if things had been any different had not Ronnie crashed his Lotus 79 in practice and had started in it instead of the old 78. I’ve always thought it a bit ironic that both times an American has won the driving championship, his team mate was killed at Monza.

        On a lighter note, how things have changed since the late 1980s, spare cars for drivers to run back to the pits for, David Hobbs and Bob Varsha commenting on the race for American viewers. Oh wait! Well at least they sounded younger back then!

      3. There was also Monza 2001 when Paulo Ghislimberti was tragically killed. The sight of DLR’s Arrows barrel-rolling through the air before he even got to the site of the original crash is quite something, though…

        1. (Sorry, 2000.)

          I imagine this comment will be too short so here’s something else to flesh it out.

  12. So let’s start the argument for spare cars during the race weekend! There certainly is nothing like seeing a driver get out of his wrecked car and walk slowly back to the pits, only to break into a sprint when the red flag comes out! Should a driver have to pay for his mistakes by not having a backup car? Or should he be allowed another chance?

  13. Not the “best” opening crash ever (Belgium 1998), but surely the most significant ever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiGUSyN9-zk

    A reminder that Schumacher hasn’t been the only dirty driver in the business.

    1. Whilst it was dirty, I’ve always found it more forgivable since he actually announced beforehand that he’d do it since he was put on the wrong side of the track.

      Basically I’m always a bit more likely to forgive someone if they’re honest about it!

    2. It wasn’t dirty at all.

      First, a year before, he was disqualified by Balastre for an accident caused by Prost (or rather, for using the chicane to get away from the collision).

      And then he took pole, only to have Balastre reverse a decision to move the pole position to the clean side of the track.

      Balastre made Max Mosley look like a super FIA (Or, FISA at Balastre’s time) president… At least he didn’t try to favour British drivers, like Balastre’s manipulations in favour of Prost.

      1. Regardless of the circumstance, or whether he announced it beforehand like the other guy mentioned above, deliberately hitting another driver is dirty.

        1. “Regardless of the circumstance”
          Errrrr, no.

          1. Care to elaborate on your wonderful contribution LosD? Errrr, no?

          2. Simple. Circumstance greatly affects wether it is “dirty” or not.

            (By the way, I am also “Dennis”, I have no idea why my browser decided to change the Name string).

          3. It shouldn’t matter what Balestre was doing, these were supposed to be professionals who were paid to race, not crash into each other. What Prost did in ’89 was dirty, but responding in the same way made that first corner crash dirty as well. And it was dangerous, too, in an era where driver fatalities were too common (as Senna unfortunately discovered).

          4. They are paid to race, but they also want to win (more than most. If not, they wouldn’t be top-class race drivers). Being cheated one year, with the same pair trying to cheat you again, should and must be stopped to the best of your ability. Taking the one of the cheating couple off the track is in no way dirty, it is fighting a dirty scumbag with (part of) his own tricks.

            – And Prost not having a hand in Balastre’s decision, is about as plausible as Alonso not being part of Crashgate.

          5. Prsots move was thought out nor planned, making his error just that, and a racing incident.

            As I understand it from reading previous comments, Senna had already thought about crashing on purpose, in other words, it seems to be more of a premeditated assault instead of a racing incident.

            To me, doing something stupid in the heat of battle (ala Mr Schumacher) isn’t good, but it’s not nearly as bad as planning out the possibilities before hand and planning to crash.

            Dennis you ever heard the saying two wrongs don’t make a right?

          6. Tis be a cold morning and ze hands! she wouldn’t spell the words in ze way I might have hopped :(

            Prost’s move was NOT thought out nor planned, making his error a racing incident.

          7. There isn’t two wrongs. There is a couple of cheating scumbags, and a driver defending himself.

            If Prost had any kind of decency, he wouldn’t have tried taking advantage of the other cheating scumbag’s race manipulation.

          8. What you’re doing Dennis, is assuming that Prost pretty much asked for Balestre to manipulate things in his favour. Without any solid proof. That’s part of why your argument is failing here.

            You can’t hold a single driver, Alain Prost responsible for the actions of the FIA, which means that his move on Senna in 1989 is the full extent of any cheating he did. Senna may have wanted to defend himself, but doing so by aiming your car at another is also wrong, hence he committed the second “wrong” which does NOT make it “right”.

        2. I agree, but hey.. Senna didn’t hit Hill so he’s nowhere NEAR as dirty lol.. /sarcasm

    3. haha love how Senna’s rivalry with Prost is used as a precedent for all the ‘dirtyness’ Schumacher has been involved with in his career (and thats a lot)…sorry, sometimes 2 wrongs do make a right :)

  14. Monza 2000 was pretty spectacular. Unfortunately, a marshall died after getting hit from Frentenz’s stray tyre.

    1. Ned Flanders
      5th August 2010, 14:56

      That’s another one I would’ve mentioned if it were not for the fatality. Here’s a small part of what I wrote:

      “Although all 5 drivers appeared uninjured, a medical car rushed to the scene. It soon emerged that a trackside marshal, 33 year old Paulo Gislimberti, had been hit by a stray wheel during the accident. He died soon afterwards, leaving behind an eight month pregnant widow. Six years on from the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna, it was a stark reminder of the dangers of motor racing.”

      I find the deaths of marshals even more tragic than the deaths of drivers. Especially in this case as it left a child without a father.

  15. lol Hobbs and Varsha still calling F1 in America back in 1989. Shows how little has changed here.

    1. seriously. That took me by surprise a bit. Like “WAIT, is that the same guy that calls for Speed Channel?”

      1. Well, Hobbs had been calling F1 since the 80’s and covered Nascar in the Late 70’s. After ESPN lost F1 rights to Speedvision (now SpeedTV), Varsha did commentating for CART while Derek Daly (featured in the Monaco 1980 clip) was F1’s commentator with Hobbs.

  16. Nice work Ned, I hope many F1 fans in this blog write some different article for this boring summer break.

  17. Thanks Ned, good article.

  18. Considering other series, CART race at Michigan 1996 was very big one. From the old DTM, I can recall Avus 1995. There are some from the junior formulae, especially those which have been held in the same weekend as F1.

    1. The incident at magney Cours in GP2 was a classic. Team mates who had locked out the front row taking each other out after about 100 meters…

      1. Ned Flanders
        5th August 2010, 16:36

        The 2007 Magny Cours GP2 race had that weird start line collision, but also Ernesto Viso’s barrel roll over the trackside wall later in the lap. Scary accident.

        And Bleu, isn’t it crazy to think races were still taking place at Avus as recently as 1995?!

        1. I completely forgot about that startline crash! Surely one of the most amusing things I’ve seen in motorsport.

        2. AVUS was just insane – obviously it wasn’t the safest track in the world, plus the circuit design… but using that argument, you could say it was incredible that F1 raced so long on the old Hockenheim.

          Viso was very lucky…

          Here’s a F3 Macau classic from ’95, featuring a few familiar faces: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFLV2lTzXnM
          Plus a commentating gaffe worthy of Legard: “There must be a dozen cars on their roof!” Well, actually, there aren’t any…

  19. There were a couple of good ones (used loosly…I’m not a crash bang wallop sort of F1 fan) at Monza in the early 90’s (93 or 94 if I remember right).

    One of them involved Johnny Herbert in a Lotus (equipped with a one off Monza spec nuclear bomb of a Mugen-Honda engine) which saw him qualify a lot higher on the grid than he had been. It was a sad end to what could have been a points scoring weekend for the struggling Team Lotus.

    1. Ah, now I remember: Lotus only had one car with the special Mugen-Honda engine, which Herbert qualified with (could have been in the top 6 actually). After the first corner collision the race was stopped and Herbert had to restart in the spare car which was fitted with an older spec Mugen-Honda engine.

      It’s amazing what you remember when you put your mind to it!

      1. I think I once read somewhere that Herbert was convinced he could have won that race.

  20. Lessons learned in Formula Ford are cared over to F1…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkBtK3aFwvs&NR=1

  21. Great article Ned!! Loved the write-ups and the videos.

  22. Maverick_232
    5th August 2010, 16:42

    Surprising there’s nothing from Monza.

  23. Ned Flanders
    5th August 2010, 16:52

    F3 at Macau does it best!! The following two pile up’s make Spa 1998 look like childs play:

    1999: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRmZPnbxeIc
    1995: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFLV2lTzXnM&feature=related

    1. Maverick_232
      5th August 2010, 17:08

      WOW.. Just WOW!

  24. It’s quite surprising just how narrow the start/finish straight was at the Osterreichring. The width of a start/finish straight at a Tilkedrome must be double that. Is the track still derelict?

  25. Nice stuff Ned, brava, brava. I particularily like: “escaped from the clutches of the multicoloured mass of carbon fibre sliding down the hill”. Great idea for an article and tastefully done too.

  26. MarcusAurelius
    5th August 2010, 21:05

    The one I miss from this list is the Belgian 1981 start at Zolder. Although I understand it not being listed as watching the YouTube video still turns my stomach.

    Ricarde Patrese stalled before the start. A mechanic jumps on the track to start his engine again but he is missed by the officials and they start the race.

    A few cars avoid Patrese, but Siegfried Stohr starting from the back of the field crashes into the back of Patrese with the mechanic (Dave Luckett) in between.

    1. I don’t really see how thats a notable first lap pileup. The whole incident is a man getting crushed between two cars, not pleasant tbh

  27. Why on earth is one of the drivers in the Silverstone ’73 video trying to get out of the car as he heads into the first corner!!!

  28. theRoswellite
    5th August 2010, 23:40

    Having just finished Charles Bradley’s article on the Autosport site,http://www.autosport.com/features/article.php/id/2975, I was a bit surprised to see this crash-roundup on my favorite F1 site.

    His article reflects on recent accidents and the need to address the presently accepted level of aggressive blocking in F1 and other formulas. He feels, I believe, that we are headed in a dangerous direction by permitting drivers to actively “defend” their position.

    It use to be the custom to defend ones position by taking an unusual line through a corner, a line that would make it difficult for a following car to position itself for a pass. Presently we see drivers using blocking techniques that are blatantly dangerous, and some drivers seem to think intimidation is an acceptable drivers tool.

    I submit that this has come about as a result of the high level of technical safety now present in the sport and the governing bodies reluctance to enforce acceptable driver behavior.

    Hopefully, the sport can change this situation prior to a major catastrophe.

    1. I wrote an article on driving standards a few days ago in response to the Schumacher crash:


    2. Fatalaties are inevitable in racing, it is what it is. Instill safety by all means but don’t go too far. Keep it in perspective, everybody dies, and F1 is not particulary dangerous way to live at the moment.

  29. Ouch! 2002 Australian Grand Prix a flying Montoya… hrhr

    1. You mean a flying Ralf Schumacher

  30. ***MONZA 2000***

    I don’t know how this incident went unmentioned.


    Unfortunately a track marshal was killed.

    1. Again, see paragraph five.

      1. That makes sense, sorry I missed that portion.

  31. Spa 2009
    Maybe not the most spectacular, but certainly a multi-car first-lap pileup (actually 2 separate crashes happening nearly simultaneously).
    Brawn GP on-boards:
    Crowd camera:

  32. Nice theme Ned. To remember all those exiting, horrible etc. crashes that got us into watching F1 fulltime!

    The Hockenheim 1994 was one of the first races i watched, and it certainly got me interested.

    Great idea to discuss the biggest ones here, and a very good desicion not to include the ones with fatalaties (they should be remember among the darkest and saddest days/races of F1).

  33. Great article Ned! I still have Spa 98 on tape. I remember watching it at the time, the hour or so between the two starts seemed to go on forever.

  34. This one is from the V8 Supercars, and is the worst crash I’ve seen from that series. But watching all the other drivers stop their own races & run over to help Lowndes is a fantastic demonstration of the friendship & camaderie between the drivers.


    1. Why did the marshall wave the green flag after it became obvious that there was a huge accident?

  35. Woow never seen those extra camera angles od the silverstone crash!

    I remember another one: Ukyo Katayama at portugal in 1995. Couldn’t find a good footage of it, but still:
    And a funny commentator going crazy:

  36. US Williams Fan
    6th August 2010, 22:22

    nice article!

    as a fan newer to F1…. did not know that for up until the last 10 years or so that there was no safety car.

    1. The first safety car was used at Mosport during the 1973 Canadian GP – and it caused chaos! They weren’t regularly used until the mid 90’s though.

  37. Wow! The 1998 Spa crash is really something!

    I love the graphic in the Australian 2002 GP of the circuit map with the yellow zone clearly marked! That would ideal to have because we see so many yellows without knowing what are they for..

  38. Great collection of videos. Got a well needed fix of F1 while we’re on this ridiculously long break! ;-)

    I am still furious at Montoya for the crash at the US GP.

    Does anyone know why, and who the driver is at the 1973 British Grand Prix at Silverstone who is climbing out of his car while it is still moving. It’s towards the end of the video.. Just seems bizarre to me. The car seemed to be going ok. Too fast to actually get out of. But I can’t imagine what else the driver is doing…

    1. Ned Flanders
      8th August 2010, 20:54

      Yeah it’s strange isn’t it. Kind of Hamilton at Montreal 2010- esque! Maybe he was trying to get out to help assist the drivers who had crashed, although in that case it would’ve made more sense to just slam the brakes on before unbuckling!

  39. Craig Woollard
    8th August 2010, 20:07

    Dear Ned. HI!


  40. How about this pileup at the gold coast v8supercar race caused by Jacques Villeneuve.

  41. Surprised about the 1986 Brands Hatch GP not being in the top ten. Boutsen spun out and then went back into cars and caused Laffite to break his legs & have his career ended…

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