The Crash Awards

Like it or not, crashes will always be a part of F1′s appeal, as any form of motorsport. They are especially fascinating in F1, because these drivers are supposed to be the world’s best. It is in celebration of the fact that this isn’t always the case that we reveal the F1Fanatic Crash Awards.

Every Saturday I set aside an hour for the excellent ‘Fighting Talk’ on Radio 5. A few weeks ago, when asked how to make F1 more exciting, one of the panellists joked, ?????ǣmore crashing!?????? You have to agree. Of course, one never wants to see anyone get hurt, but how many people found the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix riveting because someone fell off the road every 30 seconds? Given that it recorded ITV’s record F1 viewing figures, I’d say quite a few.

In recent years the constantly improving safety standards in Formula One has meant that drivers are only very rarely injured. This is something all F1 fans are grateful for. These awards celebrate the drivers who have raised the bar in pursuit of the most spectacular, exciting and unusual accidents, and were not hurt in doing so.

Best Solo Effort

This is the blue riband event, the one they all want to win. While anyone can tangle with a competitor, a big solo shunt requires special effort and considerable imagination.

The nominees:

John Watson – Monza, Italy, 1981
How to split a car in two. Footage from this accident was later used to demonstrate the strength of carbon fibre moulds in high impacts.

Andrea de Cesaris – Osterreichring, Austria, 1985
Impressive barrel roll and strong use of scenery from a maestro of mayhem.

Philippe Alliot – Circuito Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico, 1988
From the smallest errors do truly great accidents arise.

Derek Warwick – Monza, Italy, 1990
Most people exit the Parabolica the right way up. A further commendation is earned for participating in the restart.

Ricardo Zonta – Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, 1999
Not to be outdone by his illustrious team mate Jacques Villeneuve, Zonta stuck to their pact to attempt Eau Rouge flat-out even after Villeneuve had destroyed his BAR there. Result: two destroyed BARs.

Mark Webber – Interlagos, Brazil, 2003
An effective demonstration of why the survival cell is so called. Webber achieved this spectacular feat while deliberately driving through a wet patch to cool his worn tyres.

And the winner is??????

Philippe Alliot. A fantastic solo effort from the Frenchman, spinning off in a straight line and using the pit-wall to launch into a barrel roll down the track.

Best Supporting Performer

An up and coming award where we salute those that cause the accident but more or less get away with it.

The nominees:

Riccardo Patrese – Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 1986
Patrese inadvertently flipped Patrick Tambey into a stunning barrel roll at Mirabeau.

Jean-Louis Schlesser – Monza, Italy, 1988
McLaren were unbeatable in 1988 until Ayrton Senna tried to lap one-off Williams stand-in driver Schlesser??????

Ayrton Senna – Various races in the 1980s
His speciality was letting the rival alongside before slamming the door. For example, see Mansell at Brazil in 1986.

Pierluigi Martini – Monza, Italy, 1993
Christian Fittipaldi did a specatacular backflip across the line, but his team-mate who unwittigly launched the Brazilian continued unscathed.

Michael Schumacher – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Canada, 1997
Schumacher teared out after his pit stop into the path of Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who has no choice but to get acquainted with the tyres. Schumacher goes on to win.

And the winner is??????
Jean-Louis Schlesser. If only for the infamy.

It Takes Two

Most racing accidents usually result from two drivers disagreeing about the same piece of road.

The nominees:

Mauro Baldi & Jochen Mass – Paul Ricard, France, 1982
Fans often complain they don’t get close enough to the cars and drivers. Baldi and Mass rectified this, as the Italian launched Mass’s car into a spectator enclosure at over 170mph. Incredibly, no-one was hurt, but it lead to a swift re-appraisal of the usefulness of catch fencing.

Eliseo Salazar & Nelson Piquet – Hockenheimring, Germany, 1982
Classic leader-meets-back-marker altercation, with bonus points for the subsequent kung-fu fight.

Alain Prost & Ayrton Senna – Suzuka, Japan, 1989
Did Prost shut the door? Was it ever open?

Alain Prost & Ayrton Senna – Suzuka, Japan, 1990
At least pretend you’re trying to take the corner.

Damon Hill & Michael Schumacher – Adelaide, Australia, 1994
It doesn’t look any better a decade later. Would have scored better if Schumacher had kept his Benetton on two wheels for longer.

Nick Heidfeld & Takuma Sato – A1-Ring, Austria, 2002
Heidfeld wasn’t aiming at Sato, but an awesome effort in any regard.

And the winner is??????
Nick Heidfeld & Takuma Sato. Praise the FIA for side impact tests. The on board camera from Juan Pablo Montoya’s Williams shows the true violence of the impact.

Group Therapy

The most competitive category, given the number of multiple pile-ups F1 has seen over the years. We salute the very best of the best

The nominees:

Mauricio Gugelmin (and supporting drivers), Paul Ricard, France, 1989
Gugelmin attempts the novel breaking technique of launching himself over the rest of the field. It doesn’t work.

Eddie Irvine and Jos Verstappen (with Eric Bernard and Martin Brundle), Interlagos, Brazil, 1994
Irvine forced Verstappen onto the grass and the innocent Brundle takes a header from Verstappen’s mid-air acrobatics. Irvine gets a three race ban.

Mika Hakkinen (and supporting drivers), Hockenheim, 1994
Two shunts before the first corner. Mika Hakkinen single handedly creates the most expensive parking lot in history by turning left at a right-hander.

Alex Wurz (and supporting drivers), Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Canada, 1998
Wurz gets squeezed out into a multiple barrel roll and takes half the field with him. Further credit for his subsequent drive to fourth on the restart.

David Coulthard (and supporting drivers), Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, 1998
Coulthard spins off in the wet and takes half the grid with him.

Luciano Burti, Hockenheim, Germany, 2001
Luciano Burti doesn’t see a slow moving Michael Schumacher, then enters orbit.

And the winner is??????
Mauricio Gugelmin. Clearly drawing his inspiration from Derek Daly’s Monaco crash in 1980, Gugelmin took the popular ?????ǣdriver doesn’t brake for the first corner?????? crash to new heights.

You Wouldn’t Believe It

Sometimes the accident is so bizarre you couldn’t make it up.

The nominees:

Alain Prost, Riccardo Patrese et. al. Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 1982
With a handful of laps to go Prost crashed out of the lead. New leader Patrese spun at Loews. The next leader, Didier Pironi, ran out of fuel. So did de Cesaris. Derek Daly could have won, but he had somehow lost his rear wing. Finally Patrese rolled his car down the hill, jump-started the engine, and won.

Stefan Johansson, Osterreichring, Austria, 1987
Animal lovers, look away: McLaren-TAG turbo at full throttle 1 – Deer 0. Johansson walked away, Bambi didn’t.

The Jordan team, 1994
Managed to eliminate both cars by the third corner in two successive races.

Taki Inoue, Monte Carlo, Moncao, 1995
Rolled the car while being towed in. How?

Taki Inoue, Hungaroring, Hungary 1995
Retired with mechanical trouble and then run over by the fire marshal. How?

Christian Klein, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, 2004
?????ǣLet’s put a priceless diamond on the nose cone, it’ll be safe there.?????? Klein got as far as the Grand Hotel hairpin and the diamond was never seen again.

The Jaguar team, Interlagos, Brazil, 2004
The last race for the Jaguar team – and the drivers celebrate by taking each other out.

And the winner is??????
Taki Inoue for creating the two most bizarre accidents in F1. And because he never won anything else in his racing career.

Lifetime Achievement Award

For some drivers, racing is secondary to the pursuit of the ultimate shunt. We single out a special driver who has dedicated their career not to winning, but to crashing.

The nominees:

Andrea de Cesaris
Nicknamed de Crasheris with good reason. Is on first name terms with the international race track marshalling community.

Philippe Alliot
Most late 1980s F1 reviews feature at least five minutes of Alliot accidents. Further credit for not being a selfish crasher and usually taking an innocent party with him (more often than not, the person he was being lapped by.)

Michael Andretti
In 13 short races Andretti made sure his McLaren explored the infield wherever possible.

Ricardo Zonta
He was not nicknamed ‘Pebbles’ because he liked the seaside.

Takuma Sato
Admittedly he’s only young, but 2002 was enlivened by the sight of his yellow Jordan exiting stage right.

Taki Inoue
An ephemeral genius, who in little more than a year in Formula One created two of the most celebrated accidents. ?????ǣI’m trying to improve,?????? he told journalists. Inspirational.

And the winner is??????
Andrea De Cesaris. Who else could it be? The Czar of crashes, the sultan of shunts, who twice broke the record for most accidents in a single season. Inexplicably backed to the hilt by the Marlboro money men, De Cesaris started over 200 Grands Prix and never won a single one. But he crashed, banged and walloped his way into our hearts. Particular mention must go to his effort at Pheonix in 1989, when he shunted team-mate Alex Caffi – who was lapping him – out of a potential podium place.

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