In a high octane, super speed sport like Formula 1 racing, the potential for atrocious accidents with heavy consequences is ultra-high. That is why safety is increased from season to season. However, throughout its long history, there have been many crashes, injuries, and even deaths during the races.
The pit stop lane is also one of the most dangerous parts of the track. Teams of dozens of car experts have mere seconds to change everything necessary on the car, refuel it, and get it ready for the next part of the race. There is absolutely no space for mistakes, and everything has to be perfect. One misstep, and the race, championship, and even lives can be in danger.
Following are some of the biggest and scariest pit stop lane incidents in the history of F1 racing. It is the best reminder of how hard it is to work in the teams of people responsible for the maintenance of these beast machines.
10. Heikki Kovalainen and Kimi Raikkonen, Brazil, 2009
In this situation, Kovalainen was in a rush to leave his pit stop lane, and punched the throttle while his fuel pipe was still attached to the car. The pipe was torn apart, with the highly flammable fuel splashing everywhere around him.
Then came Raikkonen, who drove behind him in the lane, as they were both on their way back to the race. The fuel got in touch with his heated car, causing a short burst of fire in front of his car. A scary moment, for everyone involved. The both drivers had to stop.
9. Eddie Irvine, Ferrari, Europe, 1999
This was one of the biggest mishaps of Ferrari’s pit lane team. The rear right tire was missing altogether from the team who waited for the driver. When they signaled Irvine to go, the tire was still missing.
By the time they attached it, he had already stayed for an entire 48 seconds in the lane, which ruined his race and title hopes. He was two points short of the title at the end of the season.
8. Robert Kubica and Adrian Sutil, Hungary, 2010
While Sutil was in his pit stop, Kubica was also set to go into his, which was right in front.
When Sutil started going back into the lane, Kubica went straight into his path, crashing into him on his way to his crew. Both drivers had to forfeit from the race.
7. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Singapore, 2008
Massa rushed back into the race with the fuel line still attached to his car. One of the crew members went flying a couple of meters as he tried to rip it away from the car.
When Massa realized what had happened, he pulled over to have the problem resolved. He was leading the race, at that point, but came in dead last in the end.
6. Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, Canada, 2008
While Raikkonen was waiting for the red light at the exit of the pit stop lane, Hamilton crashed into the rear of this car, smashing his own front wing while also destroying Raikkonen’s rear wing.
Rosberg then hit Hamilton in the back for a chain crash, smashing his front wing. The drivers had to pull away from the race.
5. Nigel Mansell, Williams, Portugal, 1991
After his crew supposedly did their part, Mansell started heading back in the race. His rear right wheel however fell off immediately, as the three-wheeled car stopped in the lane.
The team attempted to attach another wheel, but a black flag was raised ending his race there.
4. Eddie Irvine, Jordan, Belgium, 1995
Another accident for him. An unfortunate fuel spill gave him a scary surprise, as his whole car caught fire for a couple of seconds.
His helmet and dashboard were also aflame. The crew quickly extinguished it, and he was okay after the dramatic incident.
3. David Coulthard, Williams, Australia, 1995
While leading the race in the Australian Grand Prix, Coulthard went into the pit. Unfortunately, he crashed his car in the wall on the entry.
The impact was light, but enough to wreck the front left wheel, ending his race.
2. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, China 2007
Hamilton’s hope for a championship in his rookie season were ruined because of this mistake. He went off the track on the entrance to the pit stop, which ended his race. At the end of the season, he was 2 points shy of winning the title.
1. Jos Verstappen, Benetton, Germany, 1984
During a routine pit stop operation, first splashed everywhere when the crew removed the fuel line from the car.
After a couple of seconds, a huge flame broke out that engulfed everything, including the car, Verstappen, and several crewmembers. The camera feed also broke from the heat. Everyone was fine thankfully.