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What are the most shocking moments in F1 history?

After a month of crashes and heartache

The shock of the week was thankfully a mild one. Charles Leclerc crashed during the 18th lap of the French Grand Prix and knocked himself out of the race. As painful as going from a potential win to being unable to finish may be, it is the best possible outcome when a crash occurs.

Nearly every track has its stories and its ghosts – besides those courses too new to have hosted more than a race or two. With as much money that is involved in funding a race team, there are also plenty of stories of corporate greed blinding owners and engineers.

A single misjudged turn or a minor mechanical failure, and the outcome of a race can change in an instant. The fact that there will be upsets and shocks seems like a sure thing in the sport. That doesn’t stop placing a wager on Grand Prix from being a way to add an extra bit of excitement for those watching from home.

Watching the races may get your heart pumping but actually placing the bets shouldn’t be stressful. Finding the right bookmaker can make all the difference. Taking a change on Formula One racing is incredibly popular in Europe and the United Kingdom and is quickly catching on in the United States.

Formula One history is filled with shocking moments, both on the circuit and behind the scenes. This article will look at four of the biggest shocks. They each fall into a different category – tragic death, personal scandal, manufacturer scandal and impressive survival.

Death of Ayrton Senna

Ayrton Senna was one of the most beloved racers in Formula One history. The Brazilian star wasn’t just one of the best drivers Formula One has seen, he was also incredibly generous and devoted to helping the children of his home country.

He was heavily involved in attempting to reform the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association because of his safety concerns and his desire to protect his fellow drivers - the morning before he died, he had actually begun the process of reinstating the GPDA.

The San Marino Grand Prix in 1994 had already begun with a tragedy. During the Saturday qualifying session, Roland Ratzenberger was killed when the front wing of his car broke and he was sent flying into a concrete retaining wall.

A crash at the start of the race sent debris flying into the stands and injured eight bystanders. The safety car set too slow a pace, which caused the cars’ tires to cool down too much, contributing to the final crash.

After a tight corner on Lap 7, Senna’s car went off the course and crashed into a retaining wall. Senna died at the scene due to the massive head and neck trauma he sustained, as well as the severing of his temporal artery.

His death was a tragedy and highlighted the risks the drivers take every time they get into a car. The loss of Senna and Ratzenberger provided the impetus that Formula One needed to mandate new safety measures.

Max Mosley’s fall from power

Max Mosley was the son of British fascist Oswald Mosley. In the 1960s, he had helped his father with his campaigns and considered a career in politics before Formula One racing caught his attention. By the 1970s, Mosley had managed to fully distance himself from his father’s dark legacy.

Mosley had a fairly short career as a driver, but he made his mark when he helped to found March Engineering. Mosley played an essential role early on in securing the sponsorships and partner deals that allowed the company to thrive in its early years. It was a short-lived but exciting venture.

The remainder of Mosley’s career was spent working for the organizations behind racing. He spent most of the 1990s-2000s as president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile. It was during his fourth term, in 2008, that his career ended dramatically.

In March 2008, the tabloid News of the World released footage that appeared to show Mosley engaged in a Nazi-themed orgy. While it was eventually proved that it was merely a military-themed orgy, these were not the sort of allegations it was easy to come back from. He finished out his term but left under a cloud.

Crashgate

Sport fixing has always been an issue in professional sports. Most people associate it with boxers being paid to throw a fight or basketball players encouraged to shave a few points off to help beat the spread. Crashgate is Formula One’s biggest sport fixing moment.

During the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr crashed into the wall during the 14th lap. Debris was scattered across the track, leading to a safety car having to come out. Renault driver Fernando Alonso went on to win the race.

No one thought much of it, as crashes are commonplace in motorsports. Until, that is, Renault made the decision to release Piquet right before the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix. Piquet responded by announcing that he had been ordered to crash to make it possible for Alonso to win.

Renault briefly attempted to deny the charges but eventually was forced to concede that they had fixed the race. The managing director, Flavio Briatore, and executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds, were both moved along from the team and Renault was given a two-year ban.

It was a shocking moment and forced the Formula One world and their fans to re-examine themselves. The untouchable, elevated image that the manufacturers and drivers projected was seriously tarnished by the actions of one team.

Halo proves its value

The Halo was introduced as a mandatory safety feature in 2018. Drivers were initially resistant since it obstructed their view, and fans disliked how it altered the look of the cars. The Halo gets its name from its shape – it is a titanium hoop that is positioned above the driver’s helmet.

All doubts and complaints about the Halo were silenced at the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2020. Coming out of Turn 2 during the first lap, Romain Grosjean misjudged a move and ended up flying through the barrier. The crash broke his car in two and it immediately burst into flames.

A tragedy was expected; the car had torn through the barrier and been ripped apart even before the fire started. Everyone was amazed when Grosjean climbed out of the wreckage. He ended up suffering only minor burns.

We would call Grosjean’s survival miraculous – except for the fact that it was the direct result of technological advances and years of research into making the cars safer. Calling it a miracle captures the emotion we all felt seeing him walk away from that flaming car but disregards the work that saved him.

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