Formula 1 officially began in 1950, with the first race for the World Championships at Silverstone. From then until today it is 26 drivers died while driving a Formula 1 car. Most of these deaths occurred at the sport’s beginings, and the death toll has been declining every decade thanks to improved security measures and technological developments.
Although safety is at a much higher level today, there is still a risk of injuries and even death to drivers. Formula One cars are up to 300 km/ h, which means that even the slightest mistakes can be fatal. We looked at what were the most tragic deaths in the history of Formula One.
- Cameron Earl (1952)
The first death in the Formula One car was Cameron Earl. Earl has worked as a consultant at English Racing Automobiles for years ook a test drive to Warwickshire for the team. His car R 12 B rolled over, broke his skull and later died at the hospital.
- Chet Miller (1953)
The next Formula One death was American race car driver Chet Miller. He died months after Earl when he was in training for the Indy 500 race. During his long Indy career, Miller earned the nickname “Dean of the Speedway. He had previously promised his wife that this was his last season … and it really was.
- Roland Ratzenberger (1990)
Roland Ratzenberger was the first victim of a black weekend in Imola. In his honor, Aytron Senna intended to unleash the Austrian flag on his victory, but he himself fell victim to the San Marino route. Roland damaged the front wings of the car in qualifying, but decided to continue driving. Due to the high speed, the wings broke off and came under the car and Ratzenberger lost control of the race car. He flew into the wall at speed 100 km / h and you broke your skull. His death was eclipsed the very next day by the tragic accident of a Brazilian champion.
- Bill Vukovich (1953)
The same year as Alborghetti, another Formula One driver, American of Serbian roots, Bill Vukovich, died. In his time, he was considered one of the greatest drivers of motorsport, as he has been for years 1950 and 1954 won the famous race for 500 miles of Indianapolis. He also made history as the record holder in the most laps in races – leading. He died during a three-car crash in Indianapolis. His car flew in and collided with the front of the car and burned.
- Luigi Musso (1955)
Musso was known in the racing world as someone who likes to take risks, which ultimately cost him his life. He was very competitive and fought with his teammates many times. His biggest rival was Mike Hawthorn. Musso rode for the Ferrari team as one of three drivers when colliding at the French Grand Prix. Due to financial distress, he was prepared to do everything possible to achieve the best possible result. In every way, he tried to overtake Hawthorne, driving into a ditch and overturning. He died the same day of a head injury while his rival won the race and also became world champion this season.
- Peter Collins (1958)
The same year as Musso, his teammate Peter Collins passed away. In fact, he had a similar accident – he was driven into a ditch, and his car was blown into the air and he hit his head on a tree. He suffered severe head injuries and died shortly after the accident. Collins and Muss’s death contributed to Hawthorn’s decision to stop racing, but he died in a car accident months later.
- Eugenio Castellotti (1954)
Italian driver Eugenio Castelotti started racing in early 50’s. At the Belgium Grand Prix 1955 is 13 – celebrated the year as the youngest driver to took pole position. He died after he flight, during testing of Ferrari car for the season 1954 in Modena. He was swept away by the collision 62 meters away from the car and was dead on the spot due to a broken skull.
- Tom Pryce (1977)
Tom Pryce is the only Welsh driver in history to win a Formula One race. An accident occurred when Renzo Zorzi stopped on the track in South Africa due to a malfunction and the firefighters rushed to him to would help him out of the car. Hans Joachim noticed them in time and managed to avoid them, and Pryce, who was driving behind him, hit one of them. The fire extinguisher hit Pryce directly in the head and immediately killed him, and his car continued to drive and stopped only after the collision.
- Gilles Villeneuve (1982 )
Gilles Villeneuve was one of the most popular Formula 1 drivers. He started his career years 1977 at McLaren, and continued to Ferrari, where his life ended. He died during qualifying for the Belgium Grand Prix of the Year 1982. The tragic accident was due to a collision with the rear end of a Jochen Mass car that was retreating so Gilles could overtake him. His car flew in the air, and Villeneuve was thrown into the railing with his helmeted seat and broke his neck.
- Piers Courage (1970 )
Piers Courage might have taken over the Courage family brewery, but instead decided to pursue his dreams. He started racing in Formula One 1958 and in his short career he drove for more teams, including Lotus, McLaren and Brabham, but failed to win the highest podium in the race. He lost his life in an unusual accident at the Netherlands Grand Prix. The bumpy track caused the front suspension of the car to loosen, causing it to travel straight at a bend at high speed. At that, the tire came off and hit him in the head with such power that he died instantly.
- Wolfgang Von Trips (1957 )
Wolfgang was the third Formula One driver to die in the season 1957. He was preceded in death by the crash of Shane Summers (training at Brands Hatch) and Giulio Cabianca (testing in Modena). Von Trips took the overall standings and needed an only third place in the Monza race to win the title. While trying to overtake Jim Clark in Lotus, he ran into it and flew with his Ferrari. As he was not fastened with a seat belt, he was thrown out of the car and the car flew into the audience. In addition to Von Trips, fifteen others died from injuries sustained by a car. This is the highest recorded casualty in Formula One racing.
- Ronnie Peterson (1978 )
The Swedish driver known by the nickname “SuperSwede” has been racing in Formula One in 70’s and in 1970 when his life ended too soon. Peterson already had training problems in Monza, so he had to drive a Lotus spare car . There was a mass collision in which Riccardo Patrese hit James Hunt , and Hunt ran into Ronnie. Black Lotus flew into a guardrail and burned, Hunt, Regazzoni and Depailler immediately came to the rescue and pulled him alive. He was conscious, had severely injured legs, but did not appear to be in any danger of life. The next morning, he died in hospital from an embolism. Beatle George Harrison bowed to him with a song “Faster” .
- 3. Jules Bianchi (2015)
The last death of a Formula One driver happened in 2015, 12 years after Ayrton Senna died (until the last casualty of Formula 1). Jules Bianchi pinned himself at the Japan Grand Prix a year earlier when he collided with a Marussia team car into a tractor crane, standing on the outside of a bend. The wet lane caused him to lose control of his race car and drive off the track at high speed. He fell unconscious and remained in a vegetative state until he lost the battle.
2. Mario Alborghetti (1955)
Mario Alborghetti was an inexperienced driver, but as a wealthy he financed the construction of the car. He died right at his Pau race debut, considered one of the most challenging track. The crash was reported to have caused the Alborghetti to press on gas instead of hitting the brake, hitting straw bales, injuring more spectators. He suffered severe injuries to his chest and head as his helmet tore through the impact. His death was only announced when Jean Behra became the winner of the race.
- Ayrton Senna (1994)
Ayrton Senna became three time world champion of Formula 1 with Mclaren, before he changed Woking to Williams in 1994 . He is considered one of the best drivers of all time, although his career ended too soon and tragically. As for Ratzenberger, it was a fatal race for him in Imola. He is still circulating around his accident speculation, it is not known why he drove off the track with a car and collided with a concrete wall. The cause of death was similar to that of many drivers before – a broken skull. Two tragic deaths in one weekend contributed to to improve safety measures to prevent such accidents.