Today’s machines are amazingly safe. It’s a testament to the level of security engineered into the cars. But the drivers are still putting their lives at risk each time they get behind the wheel and push the boundaries for that extra second.
Fernando Alonso’s crash in Melbourne was not an isolated incident: these four other Formula One World Champions have survived gut-wrenching collisions on their journey to achieving ultimate success.
FERNANDO ALONSO IN MELBOURNE, 2016
The Spanish Formula One World Champion of 2005 and 2006 was lucky to walk away from a crash at the Australian Grand Prix. Hitting the wall and then a gravel trap, Alonso’s McLaren rolled through the air with everyone fearing the worst. Alonso remained unscathed, but he knows he is lucky: “I am aware that today I spent some of the luck remaining in life. I want to thank McLaren and the FIA for the safety of this car. I am alive thanks to the job of the last 10-15 years in Formula One.”
SEBASTIAN VETTEL IN SPA, 2006
The four-time World Champion suffered a crash on the infamous Eau Rouge corner when he was in Formula Three. It ruined his title hopes and almost lost him a finger when a piece of wreckage hit him. Today the finger celebration by Vettel has become a trademark for him in Formula One and with good reason.
LEWIS HAMILTON IN BAHRAIN, 2008
Hamilton lost control on the curbs and slid into the protective tyres during the second practice session in Bahrain. In the race after the crash Hamilton ended up in only thirteenth place, but there was no stopping him. By the end of the season he had won his first of three world titles to date.
KIMI RAIKKONEN IN HOCKENHEIM, 2003
“The Ice Man” had a good start at the German Grand Prix. Seconds later he suffered a horrific crash. Ralf Schumacher was found guilty of causing the accident and may look back on it as the moment he lost the World Championship after he was penalised 10 grid positions.
JENSON BUTTON IN MONACO, 2003
A 185mph crash during practice at the French Grand Prix kept Button in hospital overnight, but he insisted he was fit enough for the race. His B.A.R. team however denied him permission to start on race day. A sensible decision after a traumatising crash that saw him hit two barriers and a tyre wall at the fastest part of the Monaco street circuit.