- This is Welshman Tom Pryce during the 1977 South African GP. His Shadow teammate had stopped his car on the side of the track and a small fire flared up in the engine. Two marshals, including 19-yo first-timer Frederik Jansen van Vuuren, ran across the track carrying fire extinguishers, but the blind crest kept oncoming cars, still racing at speed, from seeing them.
The first marshal made it safely. Hans Stuck had to swerve his March to avoid van Vuuren but Pryce never had a chance. Pryce’s Shadow hit the young man head-on at around 167 mph (270 kph), essentially shredding his body. The 40-pound (22 kg) fire extinguisher van Vuuren was carrying hit Pryce in the head, killing him instantly.
The photo above is Pryce’s Shadow carrying the lifeless driver as it continued uncontrolled until it hit the Ligier of Jacques Lafitte and sent them both off-track into the wire barriers. The Frenchman fortunately was unhurt.
2. In 1991, a crewman from a South African team climbs on top of the car and starts singing and chanting gibberish. Before the other crew members could grab him, he passed out and fell off. EMT’s rushed to help him but quickly pronounced him dead.
The autopsy revealed he had ingested a lethal combination of cocaine and Benadryl, causing his heart to stop. To make things worse, his drug abuse incident caused the driver to finish the race in last place.
3. This, according to me is one of the saddest F1 photos. I understand one can put the pictures of one’s favourite F1 drivers losing (Filipe Massa on the Podium at Interlagos 2008 comes to mind)
I also intentionally would like to refrain from including Senna’s or any other driver’s last race pics. The pics are hard more than sad.
This is Indianapolis 2005 where only six cars started. All the Michelin runners went straight into the pits at the end of the formation lap. It left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth and took a decade for F1 to make a mark in the USA again.
4. How about a GIF…
You’re George Russell, backed by Mercedes F1 and Toto Wolff. You’ve competed and won all junior categories and pegged to be the next big thing. Mercedes have even claimed you as the future of the team! Sounds like a dream come true!
So how does your entry into Formula One look?
No seats available, so you humbly beg Williams to take you on a 3 year loan from Mercedes for an engine discount. During this time, Williams is the slowest car on the grid, out of money, lacking vision and innovation, leadership, and SECONDS behind the rest of the field. Your competitive compatriots you came up with are now driving at Red Bull Racing and Ferrari while you battle for 19th place on the grid.
Rumors are constantly swirling around your future as the replacement for Lewis Hamilton who keeps signing new deals and winning championships. His teammate Bottas keeps getting one year deals as you struggle to do anything but beat your pay driver teammates while your friends are winning races and fighting for podiums whom you beat in junior categories.
Have I properly set up the picture of Russell’s life at Williams?
Now, it’s 2020 and Lewis Hamilton receives a positive COVID test and has to miss a race weekend. In normal cases, the reserve driver would step up, Stoffel VanDoorne. A dream opportunity was brewing and us fans began to salivate when Russell got the call up by Toto to step in. This was George’s opportunity to finally prove to the world that he was the driver we all thought (AND STILL THINK!) he is.
George stepped into the car built for a much shorter Lewis Hamilton and immediately nipped at the heels of Bottas. He missed pole by a hair from Bottas in qualifying. He passed Bottas with ease at the start and led most of the race.
This was it! George was going to finally win a GP and prove to the world stage that he was a champion in the making!
In his final pitstop, the stop was botched by putting the wrong tires on his car. He loses position, but Hustle Russell powers past Bottas again!
While powering up the field in Hamilton like aggression from P5 to P2, he was called in to the pits yet again for a tire puncture to miss the deserved win and podium.
The last minute of this video will give you all the emotion of the image above you need.
George gave us a glimpse of what 2022 will look like as he’s been given the drive at Mercedes in place of Bottas.
5. Filipe Massa losing the F1 championship to L. Hamilton on the last turn of the last lap of the last race of 2008.
6. Felipe Massa’s family was celebrating. Why shouldn’t they? Their son/brother had crossed the line as winner of the Brazilian Grand Prix, and if nothing else had happened, he’d be the 2008 F1 World Champion. What better way than to win it in your home race, right?
Alas, something happened. Timo Glock ran off the road and Lewis Hamilton got the point he needed to end up champion instead.
This was the result…
7. Formula 1 has had plenty of tragic moments over 70 years. I personally think this is the saddest photo I remember seeing:
This is a photo of F1 driver David Purley who pulled over to help a competitor and friend Roger Willamson, who was killed when his car hit a barrier and burst into flames. Williamson was trapped inside his car because it flipped over. He was conscious and burned to death when spilled fuel caught fire. Purley tried to get the circuit marshals to respond and braved the flames trying to right the car to extricate Willson, to no avail. In this photo Purley has just watched his friend burn to death and been unable to save him.
Here is a photo of the car after the fire was eventually extinguished:
This may have been the worst of all F1 accidents ever given how long the driver remained alive during the fire.
8. Not a photo, but film footage (courtesy of YouTube) of the death of Roger Williamson at the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix
The driver who stops his car and tries to rescue his friend is David Purley (who was later awarded the George medal).
At this time, trackside marshals were still not given fireproof clothing which is why they could not help Purley, and why Purley repeatedly tried to get other drivers to stop.
The whole thing is simply awful to watch, especially since (as Purley later said) he could hear Williamson screaming in agony, trapped under the car.
Williamson thankfully died of asphyxiation, since his nomex suit would have otherwise prolonged his suffering even more.
9. I watched Bandini’s crash at Monaco live as it happened, on ABC TV. As sad as this photo looks, it gets worse.
Just after this photo was taken as they were lifting him out of the car, the car exploded again, and they dropped his body on the pavement and everyone ran, leaving his burning body laying there.
ABC then showed the crash, and the people lifting his body and dropping it over and over for what seemed like a half-hour.
I’ve seen a lot of crashes, some of them live, I saw both John Surtees (I thought Surtees was dead for sure, and I was only 50′ away) and Jim Hall crash at Mosport in Canada, I saw my first fatality when I was a kid at a dirt track race for Midgets on a quarter-mile track, but this is the one that I’ll never forget!
And look at the lack of safety equipment worn by the corner workers? This photo was taken in the middle of the rescue attempt, not after it was over.
10. 1 May 1994… Ayrton Senna.. Imola circuit..
Update.. just noticed that this has been already included in a previous answer.
11. This is from the 1955 Le Man (not Formula 1), when 84 civilians were killed.
The engine block hurled through the crowd.
12. 1978 Monza, multiple car crash killing Ronnie Peterson.
13. 1982 Belgium GP, Gilles Villeneuve, father of Jacques Villeneuve, crashed driving a Ferrari.
14. 1994 Argentina GP Ayrton Senna killed by a, loosened part crashing his helmet.
Last but not least, I watched a movie back in 1980 with the title, Pole Position, there is a sequence of a Marshall being knocked by a GP car at high speed while crossing the track. He was sent flying in midair and while he was spinning, all his clothes exploded into pieces and he dropped to the ground dying naked.
15. Latest reports suggest that the incidents involving Rubens Barichello, Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix were caused by the remote controlled cutting of the steering column and brake cables.
The catastrophic events would’ve been meant for FIA to redesign circuits, reduce car speed and introduce the HANS device in order to allow access in Formula 1 to a new generation of pilots. It’s further suggested that Ayrton Senna’s injuries weren’t actually fatal and that he was killed just after the crash by the medical staff. Also, that race stewards allowed for two Williams mechanics to remove black boxes from the car wreck.
The Italian prosecutors just didn’t think big enough. Down-bellow, there’s a steering column snap at 0:47 (Barichello) 0:15 (Ratzenberger) and 0:59 (Senna)