While Kubica’s 2007 crash is probably the most stunning crash of the modern ‘safer’ F1 era, I don’t think it’s the best somebody has walked away from in the 60-odd years of F1.
Back in the the 70s F1 was a lot more dangerous, and even as late as the 1976 it was quite plausible For a driver’s first major crash to be his last.
The 1976 German GP was on the green hell Nordshlefe track at the Nürburgring. Austrian Niki Lauda was leading the championship in his Ferrari, and early on he took a left hander but lost grip and control instantly veered right and snaked before sliding 180 degrees as the car slammed into the crash barrier.
Lauda’s Ferrari, now facing backwards on contact with the barrier, disintegrated down it’s left hand side, and the fuel tank burst open, causing the fuel which poured out of the ruptured tank to ignite.
Furthermore, another car taking the left hand corner at race speed smashed into Lauda’s now flame engulfed Ferrari, and punted it down the track. Lauda’s helmet failed in this crash so for him to survive to high speed impacts, and a fireball is unbelievable especially with a faulty helmet – add to this the fact it occurred in a period of time when safety was not paramount, and it is a miracle he survived, let alone took the championship to the last race and lost out by a single point to James Hunt.
The emotional side to this story and crash helps it to be the best crash of all time, the way the drivers helped him out of the car, and helped wave the other cars to slow down, add to the drama. And his decision to pit in the final race when the weather got too bad, even though it cost him the 1976 title, showed a human side to an F1 driver that people didn’t expect.
A huge fireball.
Poor overall safety in that period of time.
Google “Niki Lauda near fatal crash video” and watch the first video. He should not have survived that, not in the 70s, never mind near winning the title!!