F1's Innovations: 6 Crazy Crashes Where Drivers Have Survived Unscathed

F1 has gone from a sport in the 1970s where several drivers a season may die to a modern sport where walking away from death-defying crashes is the norm...
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F1 has gone from a sport in the 1970s where several drivers a season may die to a modern sport where walking away from death-defying crashes is the norm...

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F1 is a sport notorious for its high octane thrills, spills and the luxurious lifestyle associated with its handsomely rewarded drivers. However, the picture wasn't always quite so rosy.

In 1970, three drivers unfortunately lost their lives in crashes in just a singular year; however, with the advent of modern technology F1 has grown to become immeasurably safer for drivers and the Allianz video above explains some of the cutting-edge measures which ensure this is the case, especially the Monocoque carbon-fibre system.

Because of the continuing development of life-saving technology such as that seen in the video, F1's safety record has drastically improved without losing any of the drama which is central to the sport.

Here are six high speed crashes where, if it weren't for F1's continuing commitment to safety, the drivers may not have been quite so fortunate.

1. Ralf Schumacher, Australian Grand Prix, 2002.

'Now is when we truly find out how they are going to deal with 2002' - well, Ralf Schumacher dealt with it by smashing into the back of pole-sitter Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari at the first corner, causing a succession of cars to be eliminated from the Grand Prix. And yet, despite the intense speed of the crash, Schumacher received no injuries and was able to calmly exit his car and leave the scene. Inevitably, Barrichello wasn't particularly understanding of his German competitor's mistake, however.

2. Patrick Tambay, Monaco Grand Prix, 1986.

Despite the violent flipping of his car in a barrel roll which brought him head on into the crash barriers, Frenchman Tambay managed to escape within seconds from his crumpled car; something which would have been unimaginable to F1 drivers a generation or two earlier.

3. David Coulthard, Belgian Grand Prix, 1998.

On an extremely wet day at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, David Coulthard lost control of his McLaren to instigate what was then regarded as 'the biggest F1 crash to date'; thirteen drivers were involved in a calamitous pile up and, when the race was restarted an hour later, another crash between Mika Hakkinen and Johnny Herbert occurred at the first corner. Despite the perilous nature of the crash, all the drivers involved managed to escape with nothing more sinister than a few scrapes and bruises.

4. Luciano Burti, Hockenheim Grand Prix, 2001.

This crash was a result of a disastrous start for Michael Schumacher, whose Ferrari ran into immediate gearbox problems from the start which caused the German to slow down; Burti, who was unable to slow down in sufficient time, collided with the back of Schumacher before flying dramatically into the air and colliding with an Arrows car to create carnage at the first corner. Despite a vast array of debris littering the track, both Schumacher and Burti were able to escape with minimal injuries. Burti's safety was ensured by the modern F1 cockpit, forged from carbon fibre and able to protect the driver under the most dangerous circumstances.

5. Riccardo Patrese, Portuguese Grand Prix, 1992.

As he tried to pass Gerhard Berger on the pit straight, Patrese's Williams shot up into the air before slamming into the pit wall, skidding down the majority of the straight. The cockpit sides, which were by 1992 much higher than in previous decades, helped to ensure Patrese didn't suffer serious injury - although, even now, the FIA are considering additional legislation in this area to further increase driver safety.

6. Gerhard Berger, Portuguese Grand Prix, 1993.

This was the type of freak accident that no team or driver can prepare for; after Berger's suspension faltered, lowering the car and impairing the Austrian's ability to maintain the balance of the car, Berger pelted out of the pit lane at high speed but miraculously missed a high speed collision with other drivers. At Imola in 1989, Berger suffered what could have been a similarly lethal accident when his Ferrari set alight. Modern fireproof suits had been invented by this point and, despite them being a relative novelty, the suit was crucial in nullifying the damage the fire did to Berger (modern suits ensure a driver can withstand temperatures of 840° Celsius for 11 seconds).

For more information on the Allianz ‘Drive Safely 2013′ campaign, which features Mercedes’ drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, click here.