F1 Deaths

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    Its kind of a hard topic to talk about, but I was wondering if anyone could help me with learning a little bit about these horific incidents. If you saw the accidents, what emotions came over you? And how did you see the accident? Obviously wikipedia helps, but it only fills the factual part, and the emotional part of the incident. I hope you dont find me insensitive, but I’ve (luckily) never witnessed a death live. Thanks guys.



    I haven’t seen any F1 drivers die live (only 2 died since after I was born), but I saw the Henry Surtees crash in Brands Hatch where he died last year.

    It was a great rain race, until Jack Clarke crashed, with his tyre returning to the track and hitting Surtees’ head. He went straight on at the next turn, which I thought was because of broken front wing (at that moment I had no idea it hit him in the head). Then he just kept pushing the throttle and it was that moment I realised he’s probably unconscious. I knew it was very bad and that his career just might be over, but I didn’t think of him dying.

    I got the information few hours after the race and I was very shocked and surprised, and of course very very sad by the loss of such a young racer (around 18 I think), and very talented as well – he scored his first F2 podium just a day before.

    Here’s a great article about it by Martin Brundle, who was there with John Surtees (as both their sons were racing in F2). http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/formula_1/article6727505.ece



    The only driver death I’ve seen live was Sennas and I don’t really remember how I felt tbh, I was pretty young. Must have had some impact though since I remember the day at all!

    I’ve watched a few fatal accidents on youtube though and they’re pretty horrifying


    Keith Collantine

    There have been a few cases where I’ve seen a crash happen live and it’s occurred to me that the driver might have been killed. Ernesto Viso’s GP2 crash at Magny Cours three years ago and Katherine Legge’s at Road America in Champ Car the year before are the two that spring to mind.

    And, well, it’s a horrible feeling – you’re watching something terrible unfold before you and you’d like it to stop, but just getting up and turning off the TV isn’t going to fix it, you have to keep watching.

    Of course if you’re actually at the circuit it’s even worse. At Oulton Park a few years ago my brother and I were watching a British GT race when the red flags came out and we saw a rising plume of smoke above part of the track that was out of sight. It turned out a car had cleared the barrier and burst into flames. The driver survived, but he jumped out of the cockpit on fire and had to roll around on the ground.

    It’s the unusual-looking ones that worry you: Viso’s because he cleared the crash barrier, Legge’s for the sheer violence of it. Crashes like that have a sinister quality to them – I felt the same watching the huge crash at Monza in 2000 where, of course, a marshal was killed.

    The only positive thing is that it keeps getting less and less frequent. Hopefully it will continue to.



    Well, I was 6 when Senna died but was a Schumacher fan after his good start to the season, I watched every race with my father. I remember him being very emotional with the outcome of that weekend (I remember it strangely) and he describes it as the worst race weekend ever. I never understood why this had such an impact on everyone since I was so young but sifting through the many many tapes of recorded races I pulled out Imola 1994, I was 11 then and once I watched it I realised the significance of that sad weekend at Imola, 2 deaths, 1 near miss in Barrichello, it was very sad. The depression that hit Murray Walker was terrible and at that point he was confirmed as having serious head injuries, not dead, Jonathan Palmer tried to concentrate on racing but it didn’t have any affect.

    I mean to top it off was watching Alboreto’s wheel fly in the air then watching the shot of the Ferrari mechanic on the floor just made you think stop the race.

    I guess watching a death live or recorded is pretty horrific, especially when you hold a very special place for motorsport. I’ll never forget these experiences and quite frankly I am glad I was around to witness it as I can fully appreciate the consequences of that frightful weekend and how far Formula 1 has come in terms of safety, although moments such as Massa at Hungary and Schumacher at Abu Dhabi makes your heart stop for a second.



    I have never seen a racecar crash, in a way where I was worried for the drivers life more than 5 seconds. When you see a crash like Liuzzi/Schumacher, you think about the dangers of motor racing. Also seeing Webber in Valencia, I got worried because the car didnt seem to take the impact, which means all the force goes through the driver. Luckily nothing happened.

    I have though seen a drunken man drive his car over the side of the road fly through a row of trees and rolling his car 6 or 7 times. The thoughts that went through my mind when I saw it, was not: “I have just seen someone die”. Your brain instantly overclocks itself, and you take more descisions in those 30 seconds from pulling over until you are at his car, than you do in a whole day of trivial pursuit. I am lucky enough to have received a lot of training in first aid, so I knew exactly what to do. The only problem is that I didnt know what to do when the ambulance arrived and I had been questioned. I never learned that, and that was where I began to think about what happened. At the time the paramedics could not tell whether he was going to survive, so it was hard to go home and sleep.

    That experience I will never forget, and I can still see the car roll, for what seemed an eternity. Luckily the man survived with bruises and some broken vertabraes, he has since thanked me and my dad for our effort, but I still sometimes think about that accident and feel sick.



    well i was watching the 2001 daytona 500 live when Dale Earnhardt died. For those unfamiliar, he was like the ayrton senna of nascar, he was maybe the most talented nascar driver of all time and definitely the most popular. I was only 10 at the time and maybe just a bit above a casual nascar fan. I wasn’t too shaken though. My mom told me he died doing what he loved and that’s about as good a way to go as you can ask for. That’s been my attitude about motorsports deaths since, i just hope that the people who did die racing truly did love it.

    These days, I’ll readily criticize nascar for plenty of reasons, but I’ll always remember that race for the sheer drama of that day, there was a lot of other factors besides the death that made that day memorable, if anyone wants to hear more, i’ll think a bit and tell some more



    I was at the Clipsal 500 on the Adelaide Street Circuit when Ashley Cooper, competing in one of the support races, was involved in an accident and later died in hospital. He hit the outside wall in the kink at the end of the main straight at about 220km/h. I was at the opposite end of the circuit and didnt see a replay of the accident for several hours, but I was listening to the circuit commentary and I remember how they were saying that it was a relatively minor accident at first, before realising that it was more serious as removing him from the car took longer than usual.

    The following day when he was still in a coma, there was a minutes silence for him, with some of the commentators becoming emotional as they knew he had no chance of surviving. His life support was turned off the following day, 2 days after the accident. It really hit me just how dangerous motorsport is. It had been my first ever event that I had been to and someone was killed.

    Ive felt the same kind of feelings a few time since watching on TV like when Massa was hit by the spring in Hungary last year or more recently like at the start of this years Bathurst 1000 when Fabian Coulthard had a massive crash, or last weekend at Sandown when both the Saturday and Sunday races were Red flagged due to high speed accidents. Luckily none of these were fatal and the drivers walked away from them.

    All I can say I hope I dont have to experience anything like that again.

    For those that are interested, these are the accidents I was refering to:

    Coulthards at Bathurst: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1akGw5JGqQ&feature=related

    Tanders on the Saturday at Sandown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0V-n9GXfbfg

    Davison/Caruso Crash on the Sunday at Sandown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMP5fOuQ12A



    The only F1 death I have witnessed live on tv was Senna’s, and as a fan of his I have to admit that my first thought was “great that’s 3 DNF’s in a row, why don’t you just hand the championship to Schumacher!”. But that quickly changed whem the TV director cut to the helicopter shot of the wreckage and you saw his head move, just once, and then remain still for what seemed like an age. From that moment on I knew that this was serious. But as a kid my first thought wasn’t “he’s dead” because as a kid you think your hero’s are indestructable.

    The only other notable motorsport deaths I saw live where Daijiro Kato and Shoya Tomizawa in MotoGP, and being a bit older and wiser (barely!) I was immdeiately aware of what had happened, and was sick to the stomach particularly with Tomizawa’s incident because they kept on showing the replys over and over again. The TV director should have had more sense.

    Like Keith said, I’m glad I’ve only seen 3 deaths in 20 years of watching motorsport. Sure the tracks are a bit dull now, but at least we aren’t having to say good byte to talented drivers and riders 3 or 4 times a season.



    The only time I’ve come close was Schumacher’s crash in 1999. It felt like ages before anything in the way of removing him or the car happened. I wasn’t too concerned but the commentators keep saying things like “this is just like Senna [with the protective sheets screening the view]” and at that time Senna was just a name to me but I knew he had died in a race and it was only then I was worried. But then he waved to the crowd and cameras on the stretcher and the worst was over.

    I didn’t feel too worried at Massa’s accident because we didn’t know the cause for a while. I thought he’d just crashed and was being still so as not to aggravate any injury.

    It’s a testament to the cars that when I saw Kubica crash I knew he’d be all right and the same with Webber this year.



    It is such a sobering thing to think about these deaths. Although it does bring home what has happened in the past, we can see that things are definately improving in safety every year. Next year we are going to have more wheel tethers which seems to be the most dangerous aspect of open wheel racing at the moment.

    I was watching the 1996 Monza race the other day, and they had tyre stacks at the chicanes, and lots of drivers crashed into them, damaging other cars following them with stray tyres. Crazy!

    I’m glad to see the FIA are doing something about this issue.

    I remember seeing Senna’s death when I was 7, I just remember my Dad couldn’t watch the rest of the race he just seemed to know something dreadful had gone wrong here. I can just remember seeing the helicopter flying above the track and not knowing what to make of what I’d just seen.



    I saw Senna’s crash live in 1994, when i was 6. At the beginning, I thought it was a quite innocent accident, but then I started worrying when i understood he made no movement at all. At the time, I wasn’t an F1 avid follower (i was only a little child), but Senna was a sort of hero because my older cousins supported him and I had a Sega Master System game where he was the strongest rival. I felt very sad that day, and my father still remembers that when we heard he died, i said “he’ll always be the best”.

    In 2001 I also saw live the nearly fatal accident of Zanardi on television. If you see the images, you can’t believe he’s still alive. It’s like you’re in a car on the railroad and a TGV strikes you when it’s at top speed.



    One of the best things to have happened in the sport is the improvement in safety and the survival of drivers after crashes that few would have climbed out of previously.

    I have watched since 1970 and have sadly seen too many die not only if F1 but F1 drivers in other events.

    The first one I remember was Rindt at Monza in 1970. I remember watching the footage and thinking (even at an early age) that they could not show someone die on TV and how the race still went ahead.

    The death of Cevert was the first one to really get to me, I had really liked him as a driver and he was the team mate of my favourite driver at the time. I remember not wanting to go to school on the Monday and nobody really understanding why I was so upset by it.

    When Tom Price died at the South African GP it was by far the worst I have seen. He hit a fire marshal who disintegrated on impact and the extinguisher he was holding hit Price on the head with both of them being killed in an instant.

    I was at Imola when both Senna and Ratzenberger died although I had left on the Saturday night and thankfully was not there on the Sunday. I was working alongside Jordan at the time and after the accident with Rubens on the Friday everyone was very quiet not knowing if (or how he would be if) he was going to survive. The death of Ratzenberger on the Saturday was my first being at the circuit and I was relieved (in a way) to be leaving the GP that night.

    Unfortunately there have been too many who gave there lives for our sport and we must all appreciate and not forget them or become complacent.

    It would be interesting to hear from some of the older members of their memories.


    Ned Flanders

    I think more ought to be said for the marshal fatalities, particularly the two most recents incidents at Monza 2000 and Melbourne 2001. We keep hearing that there have not been any fatalities in F1 since 1994… what, don’t marshals count? They’re human beings too. In my opinion, they are even more tragic than seeing a driver die: family men volunteering to do something, whose deaths are forgotten relatively quickly.

    And fortunately I’ve never seen a driver die live, but I did get a huge fright when Robert Kubica crashed at Montreal 2007. It was such a horrific crash that for a few minutes I was convinced he was dead


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